99 Mary Street Private Viewing, photograph by Hayley Clare Lightfoot for Sheffield Design Week

Sheffield Design Week – ‘Oh Sweet City’ Review

What do you get when you cross a honey bee with Tinsley Towers?

Sheffield Unchained contributor Rebekah Whitlam, 29, studied History of Art & Cultural studies at Leeds University. Now based in Sheffield, Rebekah is a Textile Artist who helps people with learning disabilities to fulfill their creative skills. Rebekah reviews the ‘Oh Sweet City’ private viewing at 99 Mary Street during Sheffield Design Week.

Atop a stack of pallets, between a beehive, and a film reel of Sheffield steel workers, sit two white, clay pots. Sleek, quiet, elegant. It doesn’t take long to figure out what is going on at the ‘Oh Sweet City’ private viewing at 99 Mary Street on Monday evening.

In celebration of Sheffield Design Week, Sheffield designers, DED teamed up with the Sheffield Honey Company to create a limited edition honey pot inspired by Sheffield’s iconic, yet now lost, Tinsley Towers to house a new ‘urban honey’.

At first glance the ‘worker bee’ concept linking the industrious bee and Sheffield’s industrial lineage may be a little cliché adding to the ‘Steel City’ tagline. Did this little honey pot have anything else to say?

Tinsley Honey Pots by DED & Sheffield Honey Company, photograph by Hayley Clare Lightfoot for Sheffield Design Week

Tinsley Honey Pots by DED & Sheffield Honey Company, photograph by Hayley Clare Lightfoot for Sheffield Design Week

Uniform on the surface its white, clean, simple lines silhouette the cooling towers iconic shape. However, the design side steps from being overtly industrial or mass produced. These light and delicately hand-crafted clay pots, made by Penny Withers Ceramics, are reminiscent of Edmund de Waal’s work. Each has its own idiosyncrasies, no two are the same. It is here that the pots strike a chord.

I am told that once crafted the design specifications for the cork lids no longer fitted. Falling straight to the bottom of the pot, the lids were no longer fit for purpose, and it was back to the workshop.

Look up the factory scene from, Modern Times, and it is that Charlie Chaplin sneeze I love which brings the whole thing to life. Peek under the blanket of a well oiled machine and the quirks and oddities eventually reveal themselves. As did, Jez Daughtry, beekeeper and owner of the Sheffield Honey Company.

Whilst explaining to me the complexities of the beehive he tells me that he turned to beekeeping after becoming disillusioned working in I.T. and with the world at large. Sheffield Honey Company was born four years ago from not wanting to fit the mould. Since then they have sought out the greener “sweet spots” amongst the steel of Sheffield’s industrial landscape.

Jez Daughtry of Sheffield Honey Company at 'Oh Sweet City' event at 99 Mary Street, photograph by Hayley Clare Lightfoot for Sheffield Design Week

Jez Daughtry of Sheffield Honey Company at ‘Oh Sweet City’ event at 99 Mary Street, photograph by Hayley Clare Lightfoot for Sheffield Design Week

With each lid now made-to-measure, the perfect imperfections of the Tinsley Tower honey pots reveal the human behind the machine. And the honey tastes great too!

You can read more about the ‘Oh Sweet City’ event at 99 Mary Street and Sheffield Design Week at: www.sheffieldunchained.co.uk/oh-sweet-city-independents-celebrate-sheffield-design-week