The Story of:

Tiny Brick

by Vicki Leach

One day, I left the house with no other concerns with the world other than to get to my point of destination. When I closed the door and set off, something caught my eye that stood out on the tarmacked pavement. It was a small cube, no bigger than 20mm in length and had a vivid terracotta colour. As I examined it further, I noticed some holes piercing the cube and I immediately racked my brains to make an association. This was in fact a brick. A brick? This size? What? It must be for tiny people, in tiny houses. The sheer size of the thing meant that it was pretty unusable for me in any situation. 

Yet I knew that the brick was symbolic and historical, so it prompted me consider this object further.



I recalled my knowledge of bricks - where they were used, how they were used, what they were made of and I remembered that I actually really like red bricks. In fact many people like red bricks, so much so that original red bricks buildings from the 19th century are highly sought after. We even make 'feature walls' out of them. Why? Well it could be that new buildings rarely feature brick construction any more, which is because of the limitations on how high you can build with them. Their sheer weight would crumble a tall building, leading the way for lighter, cheaper, more robust materials and this means lower production runs of the bricks as a result. This makes them kind of rare and some times listed - giving the brick or even the material a special status and perceived value.



It is easy to take for granted the many items around us. Take for example Vinyl music or the Polaroid Camera. Tell someone we will never produce another Toothbrush and their value will shoot up, regardless of how mundane the object is. But making the connection to a product by inviting nostalgia is an important design tool to ensure the product stays around and becomes sustainable.

Once I brought home a brick that I had found and placed it on my desk and put a handful of pens and pencils in it. This wasn't really that useful as it was heavy and too big to hold my stationary. What if this brick wasn't too tiny or too big, but in fact just big enough to put a pencil in?




Every day, I use one pen - my favourite Parker pen. I usually rummage through my pen pot to find this, slicing my hand along the way on some badly placed scissors. It is common for people to only really use one or two pens on their desk. In fact it might be more useful if their favourite select pens or pencils were given their own unique anchor on the desktop, producing less unnecessary clutter, making them easy to find and reducing the risk of them being lost.

By scaling down the 'core' in the centre of a 3 cored brick by 1:4, this symbolic object is the perfect size to hold your stationary, giving the humble brick new functionality, whilst serving as a nostalgic reference to those that care.


By chance there was a kiln in the building I'm working in so with no prior knowledge of firing clay, I tried to find someone who could offer me some advice. By further coincidence, I just happened upon artist Rodney Harris who makes artwork out of bricks. It's pretty impressive stuff!

Rod told me all about the process and how cored bricks are made, what gives them their markings, vivid hue and where the materials come from. The process was a really interesting one and one that I'll be further investigating.

So whilst the product itself is small and humble and no real feat of innovation, it is really the history, the process and the use that gives this product a unique character and value.