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Designer Feature: Black Badger Advanced Composites

March 25th, 2009 Comments off

Finally it’s time for the feature on James Thompson and his Black Badger operation. We did a shoot to show some of the pieces he has made. Product-shots you can find on his homepage, BlackBadger.se. James put together a little presentation on himself and his work. Happy reading!

//Peter Lindberg – Editor

I am a 32 year old industrial design student orignally from Vancouver, Canada. I am currently studying in the design masters program at HDK (Högskolan För Design och Konstahantverk) design school here in Göteborg.

In addition to my studies, I own and run a small design company called Black Badger Advanced Composites (www.blackbadger.se) where I work as a composite materials specialist. The majority of my recent work has been in jewlery design, specifically using unconventional materials.

Titanium, carbon fiber, and kevlar-style composites are my specialty. Using industrial, even military, materials in modern jewlery design allows me to create highly innovative, unconventional forms, that would not be possible with other materials. Quite frankly, gold and silver has been done to death. However when working with these industrial materials, it is the design that makes them special. Once we abandon our traditional notions of what is beautiful, countless options arise.

I work primarily with fiber-reinforced composites, so that is everything from carbon fiber like you would find in a advanced aircraft, to Lance Armstrong’s bicycle frame. This amazing material has allowed me to create rings that are barely a single gram in weight, yet are amazingly sturdy.

G10 is my other material of choice. That is a composite based on more of a kevlar-style material, like would be found in bulletproof vests and missile components. Since it can be impregnated with color, it is impossible to scratch. The color 100% penetrates the material. This G10 composite is used primarily in aerospace / military applications, meaning that it is meant to withstand far greater abuse than you could imagine!

I use a playful, almosy childlike esthetic in my work. This creates a wonderful dialogue, as the ring looks like something that would be a prize in a gumball machine, yet is on-par with titanium in its strength. It’s amazingly liberating as a designer!

Most of the carbon fiber I feature in my rings is made from salvage from the motorsports and aerospace industry. This is an intentional effort to lower the carbon footprint (pardon the pun) of the production. It also adds to the appeal of the product if the ring you are wearing is made from a piece of a satellite or F1 race car.

I have also designed and produced a series of rings in pink-tinted G10 composite that I sold to raise money for the Rosa Bandet campaign here in Sweden.

James Thompson
Industrial designer and owner
Black Badger Advanced Composites

Photographs by Peter Lindberg, make-up by Martina Gustafsson, models Herman E and Anette