Do Give Up the Day Job – Adam Azmy

‘I suddenly got this crazy idea to make moons’

Space has been a running theme throughout Adam Azmy’s life so it is no surprise that an encounter with the moon spied through a telescope one night led to him making his very own. But more about that later. He has incorporated elements of NASA design and lunar landscapes into his meticulously constructed designs. When you see his drinks cabinet which takes inspiration from the chevrons on the Lunar Rover’s titanium tyres or the record cabinet which has doors that unfurl like the solar arrays of a satellite, you may think he has been crafting professionally after years of study. But Adam is one of many of our studio members who is self-taught after he found himself on a different path, and changed careers.

Born in Egypt to an English mother and Egyptian father, the family moved to Somerset and then settled in Brighton. As a teenager Azmy was a keen filmmaker and was often making things, usually items that he wanted but couldn’t afford, like his own steadicam from a baby carrier backpack and a sprung arm! The young inventor went on to study Film Production at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth and began a career in visual effects. After an internship at VFX company Framestore, he stayed on and so began his career as a compositor working on films like the award-winning Gravity and Harry Potter as well as season two of Netflix’s The Crown at the company One of Us.

After seven years in the industry, Adam became ill with depression and found that his working environment was taking its toll and his focus needed to change. Time away from the screen led him to return to his teenage hobby of making, starting with pieces of furniture for his home. He found working with his hands helped clear his head. As his living room took the brunt of his handiwork it was then he was introduced to Blackhorse Workshop by his graphic designer sister.

‘Blackhorse was the major thing, I did the induction for that about three years ago and didn’t do anything for about a year, I did a bunch of inductions in one go, it took me a while to build up the confidence to come’ explains Adam, he felt initially overwhelmed by the large machines and being surrounded by more experienced people. ‘I suppose it comes from the film environment but I like to have a fair amount of prep done in my head so I had to build myself up to doing that.’

Eventually he started using the workshop regularly on a Saturday and found he looked forward to his time here, extending to two days a week. He began working on a complex design for a coffee table from American white oak with ‘crazy angles’.

It was after a year or so of working on personal projects that the Moon project began. One evening spent gazing through the telescope at the moon with his partner, Adam wondered aloud what it would be like to touch it. And from there how could he make one? How do you make a wooden sphere?

And so the problem-solver and inventor in Azmy was awoken as he worked on creating his own lathe to make a wooden sphere: “It’s a plywood lathe, powered by a sewing machine motor, with a router on an arm that arcs around the centre of the spinning piece. I also use this to make the craters once I have the sphere, by tacking on a colour coded map I made of the moon’s surface using data from NASA.”

And who wouldn’t want their own moon? Friends began requesting commissions. Keeping one hand in VFX, he was fortunate that his current company have kept him on a retainer which enabled him to develop the design business while having a degree of security. ‘When I moved to the retainer job I suddenly had a lot of free time again that I could make stuff both for myself and other little commissions.’

Adam has moved into a shared studio where he has created a perfect space to work in. Finding this balance means that Adam can continue to develop new ideas. This year he featured at New Designers: One Year In, a showcase of emerging talent in design where he featured pieces in a collection called Space Between Space. Maybe also a metaphor for finding space to create and work from the noise of depression and his recent diagnosis of adult ADHD. He even found time to make a short film called ‘Murmurs of a Macrocosm’ which uses audio from actual recordings from Apollo space missions which earned him £300 in prize money which he promptly spent on a Festool sander.

So finally, what does Adam think is the best thing about Blackhorse Workshop?
‘Everything, I couldn’t do any of this stuff without the space, the people, and having my own little studio space here’