Organic. Seasonal. Locavore. These ideas are more familiar all the time. Michael Pollan’s prohibition against unpronounceable ingredients makes a lot of sense but somehow this philosophy hasn’t trickled into another intimate relationship we have with our bodies—skincare and beauty. There are certainly consumers who enjoy a trip to their local farmers market and happily pay extra for their organic free range grass-fed diets yet think nothing of slathering on the drugstore lotions and potions. The industry has recognized the market and done their part to offer “herbal” and “organic” products, but turn over that bottle of natural lotion and there is sure to be a long list of ingredients that would defy Pollan’s rules.

Recent Royal College of Art graduate Lauren Davies thinks things could be otherwise. Her Alchemist’s Dressing Table is a series of tools for the home production of natural cosmetics. From creams and fragrances to kohl eyeliner, this set brings the alchemy of making-up home.

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Made of borosilicate glass, copper, maple and cork, all of the materials chosen bring both functional and symbolic value to an already rich experience. The transparency of glass puts the processes on display and reinforces Davies’ philosophical position. Copper offers conductive properties while referencing Egyptian mirrors and historic perfume stills. Maple handles echo traditional tools and stand as folkloric symbols of creative expression. Ancient cork provides valuable insulation between delicate materials in the face of necessary heat. Globes and circles recall seed propagation and the iconography of alchemy.


Originally a set designer, Davies pursued an MA in Design Products in search of something more precious and longer-lived than found in her previous industry. Alchemy and the bounty of nature became obsessions and guiding influences as she engaged in this speculative investigation of cosmetics and beauty combined.