Alexena Cayless is a furniture designer living and working in southeast London. A trained sculptor and furniture designer, Alexena’s work explores the close relationship between art and design. Her work is influenced by memory and the relationship between people and objects.
Alexena’s background is far from conventional, brought up on a Leicestershire farm, she was introduced to art at an early age by her father, also a trained furniture designer. After graduating from a Fine Art degree Alexena became interested in pursuing a career within the social sector, working in art therapy and then as a paramedic. In 2003 Alexena returned to university to study design. Her work is informed by her experiences of working with people, of gathering stories and wanting to retell narratives through objects.
The ‘fly tip collection’ was developed from Alexena’s interest in the idea of ‘upcycling’ where she rescues and reinvents fly tipped furniture. Drawn to discarded pieces, she scoured the streets to retrieve and upcycle once loved items. Each piece is given a new skin that simultaneously documents where they were found through black and white prints on the surface. An ever-evolving collection, each piece is unique.
Alexena’s work is diverse. Her ceramic hip flask and silver chip fork play with ideas regarding the value of objects and reflect her interest in Britishness. Her most recent project the ‘Cheaney Chair’ was inspired by the craftsmanship of the UK’s saddlery and shoemaking industries and aims to celebrate the high quality products and skills in the UK. The Cheaney Chair is the latest addition to Alexena’s ‘fly tip collection’ and is now part of the London Design Museum’s permanent collection.