How Nona Living uses the FormBox to prototype new custom molds for Jesmonite homewares designs

This week we’re sharing the story of a Jesmonite homewares business owner who uses the FormBox to create and prototype new designs for her online shop. Meet Fiona Coupe, owner of Nona Living.

Fiona studied textiles at university and has always had a keen interest in being creative and using different materials. After her studies, she worked with a wedding dress designer, creating embellishments by hand to help add those finishing touches to the dresses. She then worked for Anthropologie, which pulled together all of Fiona’s passions as she was able to use her textile knowledge and love of working with new materials to create both window and interior displays for their stores.

Fiona in her studio

Now Fiona owns two businesses - her retail window display, interior installations and event decor business which she has been doing on a self-employed basis for 2 years and Nona Living which she started in January 2021.

Working in the prop industry, Fiona has experience with working with lots of different tools to help with her workflow - she was not a stranger to the mold-making process when she started Nona Living. Fiona had actually known about the Mayku FormBox for a few years but hadn’t quite been in the right place to invest in one whenever she saw a video, social media post or news article featuring the machine.

“I've looked at it for years and I've always thought this so many times, or I've been like, ‘oh, if I had a FormBox, I could do this. I could do that.”

— - Fiona Coupe, Prop Maker and Jesmonite homewares designer
Flower coater by Nona Living

When she decided she was going to launch Nona Living, she knew she was finally going to get her hands on the machine to help her innovate and improve her workflow.

Fiona works with Jesmonite, a material that has soared in popularity amongst the homewares industry after starting out mainly as a material for architecture and large scale set-design. Creating her own molds is an important part of Fiona’s vision for Nona Living and is one of the main reasons why the FormBox is a vital tool in her creative process. There are lots of Jesmonite homewares brands out there now and lots of them use the same molds so being able to create something others aren’t doing is so important to Fiona.

“So many people are making the exact same shapes and things on Instagram and like, that was a big reason why I wanted to get the FormBox. I wanted all my homeware pieces to be totally unique to Nona Living and showcase my love for shape and texture.”

— - Fiona Coupe, Prop Maker and Jesmonite homewares designer

Fiona’s house is full of different materials and textiles from previous prop-making jobs and so she has lots of potential vacuum forming templates at her disposal. Once she has a feel of what kinds of design she likes, she makes master templates out of laser cut wood or found objects that had been vacuum formed and filled with plaster, ready to create stock.

Unlike with her window displays or interior installations which start with Fiona sketching out her initial ideas, the design process for Nona Living products is a lot more tactile. As the results of any mold making experiments are ready in minutes and each thermoforming sheet costs as little as £1 (you even get a pack of free sheets and casting maternal in the starter pack), Fiona can experiment and prototype without wasting expensive resources.

“I find it absolutely amazing for the prototyping stage. You can just put all sorts of things together and see what happens without spending loads of money and time on Silicone.”

— - Fiona Coupe, Prop Maker and Jesmonite homewares designer
Flower coaster close up

Fiona plays around with found objects and laser cut wood to make her vacuum forming templates, tweaking where necessary until she has the perfect custom-made mold. Once she has made a mold that she is happy with, she can reuse it (and recreate it using her master template) casting Jesmonite as much as she likes - in fact, she’s done just that with her flower coaster and bubble planter molds!

While she has changed over some more intricate designs, like her candle holder, from a vacuum-formed mold to a silicone mold as this has been easier for her to make larger batches of the products, the FormBox remains an integral part of her custom mold creation process.

Every time she has a new idea she simply whips out her FormBox, instantly finding out if her design translates into a feasible mold. What’s more, even if Fiona does decide to switch the molds over to a silicone one, the vacuum formed FormBox is still reusable up until the point the new mold arrives, meaning there is no halt in production.

“It's really great to get that initial prototyping stage going. And it's really fast so you can just try things and see what happens, which is what I love about it.”

— - Fiona Coupe, Prop Maker and Jesmonite homewares designer
Plant pots by Nona Living

Off-the-shelf molds are too obvious, they’re used by 1000s of creators with very little variation in style. The initial thought is to test out custom silicone mold making, but the information out there is overwhelming and the process is messy, expensive and long. Even if you do an experiment in silicone, you'll have to wait up to 48 hours before you know if it's even worked, meaning your experiment may have left you with an expensive, unusable ‘mold’.

With the Mayku FormBox, creating a custom mold takes minutes and it's instantly ready to cast into as long as your template follows the rules of vacuum forming. A single mold costs as little as £1, so if you have to experiment a few times before you’re happy with the design, you're already making a huge saving in time and materials. Mayku’s Clear Sheets and Form Sheets are made of recycled plastic, are recyclable and can make reusable molds for a variety of casting materials.

The Mayku FormBox is easy to use, smaller than a microwave and simple to store and move - it's an ideal tool for working from home or in space-precious studio spaces! Set-up is straightforward and the starter pack comes with 40 sheets, 3 starter templates and 1kg of casting material, meaning you can be ready to make in less than 15 minutes with zero mess.

Want to learn more? You can follow @TeamMayku on social media, join our Facebook Group, the Mayku Community or request to Speak to a Specialist at any time to find out how you could use a FormBox for your next project.

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