Mirror Designer and Glass Artist, Phillip Reflects on his Career Trajectory

Better known for its canal barges and unusual marshland birds, nevertheless there’s been a quiet – but powerful – interior design movement occurring in Norfolk. And it began in Phillip Orr’s studio. The mirror glass designer has been producing stunning wall art and décor for the past 10 years, but it’s in the past year or two in particular that his art has really begun to take off and get noticed.

And it’s not only in Norfolk or even the UK that he’s now a recognised designer: he’s also a familiar face abroad. Only last week, for instance, three specialist Art Deco mirrors he’d designed were shipped off to Australia while the dazzlingly colourful entrance to a Serbian Hospital (opened by that country’s Princess Catherine, no less) also boasts Phillip’s handiwork.

“That particular commission came from a woman who was doing charity work in Bosnia,” he said. “I’d supplied stained glass windows for her local church here in the UK and she’d remembered me. Her son, an artist himself, sketched a rough design and it all took off from there.”

Mirror Mania (the name of Philip’s company) specialises in Art Deco mirrors. It’s a style period he’s always loved and been fascinated by.

“Judging by the interest I receive in my mirrors I’m not the only one who loves all those geometric shapes, bold colours and shiny chrome touches either,” he said. “Art Deco is a huge part of our business.

“It’s such a classic, recognisable style which can be bold and daring but also frivolous at the same time. Personally I’m particularly inspired by the work of American interior designer and architect Frank Lloyd-Wright.”

Phillip came to handcrafted mirror design almost by accident. A former naval communications technician and Falklands veteran who then worked in city finance, he moved to Norfolk to escape the rat race and needed a way to earn a living.

He’d learned the art of mirror making and coloured glass staining from his father as a boy. “My dad wanted some stained glass on his front door but couldn’t find anyone to make it locally so he went to the library, got out a book, and learned to make it himself. Before the end of the year he had another four commissions from neighbours,” said Philip. “In Norfolk, going back to something I knew – and more importantly enjoyed doing – just made sense.”

And he wasn’t wrong to do so. Phillip’s first ever sale in mirror art was a small Art Deco mirror he advertised on eBay for £250. It sold immediately. After that there was no going back. Today his wall art and mirrors sell for an average of £300 to £400 and up to £1,500 for a colourful, High Society wall art piece.

In Norfolk he doesn’t just have a large workshop with employees but also a showroom where visitors are welcome to browse. All the walls in this impressive Aladdin’s Cave are black in order to show the mirrors to best effect.

There are now over a thousand of Phillip’s mirrored glass designs out in the world, and another 300 sitting in scrapbooks waiting to be pursued.His best designs are done by freehand, after a glass of wine at the end of a long day, and when he’s 100 per cent relaxed.

“I’ve tried getting inspiration from art galleries but it’s difficult not to sub-consciously plagiarize under those circumstances so instead I usually start with a particular shape and go from there,” he said. “I’ll start on paper and end up using CAD software on the computer.”

Phillip’s creations don’t just contain handcrafted coloured glass which is cut freehand, but also lead (“where the real skill lies”) and which can be produced in pewter, black, gold and silver.

Each customised mirror can be coloured to match the accent colour in a client’s particular room.
“It’s a real pleasure to make something that produces delight on a customer’s face,” he said. “How many people can say that about their job right now?”

To see and find out more about Phillip’s art and the type of mirrors and wall art he produces, browse the website or visit Mirror Mania’s showroom where Phillip will be more than happy to meet with you.

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