Behind the Scenes of Bespoke Mount Making with Dauphin

We recently sat down with Alex Abbott from Approved Service Provider Dauphin, the renowned makers of some of the most exquisite mounts and acrylic fabrications in the world. In this interview, we explore the artistry and innovation that goes into creating bespoke mounts, as well as the fascinating commissions the company has undertaken.

Dauphin specializes in creating bespoke mounts for various collections. Could you walk us through the process of collaborating with clients to create mounts that meet their requirements and enhance the their objects?

We always say “start with what is best for the object then work backwards”. It’s far better to make the stand suit the object rather than the space. Ideally we visit to see the artefact and site in person, otherwise the artefact comes to us. We provide rough sketches and photos of relevant examples of our work. We also provide photos, videos and visits throughout the construction process so that together we can discuss ideas and make tweaks where needed. The level of collaboration is different for every piece. My job is to explain what’s suitable or not and why, then you or we together can decide what is best. The responsibility is then back to me to achieve this in the most discreet but safe manner. Sometimes the client tells us exactly what they want, and sometimes it’s the opposite, where a client hasn’t even purchased the piece yet!

Every project brings its own unique challenges. Could you share an example of a particularly interesting or complex commission that Dauphin has undertaken?

We are lucky to have an increasing amount of international work, and currently we are working on a residential project in Saudi Arabia. All the client’s pieces are scattered across the world. It’s been a joy to visit all over and assess these pieces, working with the artists and dealers, but trying to imagine how they will all look when under one roof has been a challenge. Here, the mocking up stage is key. Using 3D software can help us visualise the objects in the house, but sometimes it’s still best to go full Blue Peter and cut up a few cardboard boxes and get the spray mount out.

What are some of the key factors that Dauphin considers when designing and producing mounts to ensure they complement and protect the displayed items effectively?

The first thing a client tends to say to us is, “We want it to be invisible! But it also has to be really really secure!”. These are usually opposites: really secure means using thicker material or griping in multiple areas, and making it invisible means I have to get my wand out. So there’s always compromise. My approach is simple: if you give the eye what it expects to see, the mount disappears. I.e. if your item is heavy, it’s okay to have a chunky metal rod. The eye sees that it’s a heavy piece so expects to see it supported. If you try to use too many smaller supports, the mount becomes a distraction. Plus, if you’re too clever, people spend more time looking at the mount than the item. We want to show the item off, not how good at metal work we are!

Innovation and craftsmanship are important aspects of Dauphin’s work. Are there techniques, materials, or technologies that your team uses to create unique mounts?

In terms of the construction process, craftsmanship is key. Nothing we do is mass production. Every item is different, so there’s no tool that can help this process other than the skills and experience of the staff. A lot of new techniques actually come from collaborations with clients –  they want something, and rather than say no, we look at how we can achieve it. Then, it becomes something we can offer again in the future. An example of that which has now become a staple in our finishes is a technique to bronze and give a metal finish to bases and plinths. This evolved from a project on a super yacht where we needed to keep things light weight. We found this product originally designed for the aeronautics industry and it gives stunning results.

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