Martino Gamper, Tomás Alonso, Raw-Edges, Soft Baroque — these are just a few of the designers who came from abroad to study at London's Royal College of Art and ended up making a home in the UK. So it's no wonder a dampened mood filled the air at this year's graduate showcase, in the wake of the EU Referendum, with an underlying anxiety of how the political sphere might affect the influx — and future prospects — of applying students. Still, the show was as fruitful as ever at uncovering this year's next big thing designers — click through for six of our favorites!
Most artists and designers start their practices small, then scale up their work as their ambitions, finances, and studio spaces grow. London-based Zuza Mengham has done the opposite: Back in art school, she welded semi-functional steel sculptures so large and unwieldy she sometimes had to destroy them afterwards, while recently she began turning her attention towards resin experiments compact enough to perch on a bookshelf. Both endeavors come from a similar interest in working within the transitional states of materials.
If you visited Sight Unseen OFFSITE last week, you might have noticed one standout booth in particular, dressed as it was in moody shades of blue, showcasing an incredible number of variations on the sculptural, globe-bulbed typology that's recently become so en vogue in the lighting world. In fact, in its striking beauty, the booth was impossible to miss: The lights were the work of London-based sisters Gwendolyn and Guillane Kerschbaumer, two Austrian-born designers who work under the studio name Areti.
Among our 30-something friends, collaging is suddenly all the rage. (Maybe it's the new adult coloring book?) But to our minds, there's another use for old books and papers that consistently produces a far more beautiful result: paper pulp, the key ingredient in CHIAOZZA's charming Lump Nubbins, Silo Studio's PPPPP bowls, and now Ben Branagan's Monuments series, which debuted last night in a window installation at London's Darkroom concept shop. For the exhibition, Branagan, a designer and professor in visual communications, transformed the pulped remains deaccessioned library books into a series of totemic, distinctly non-functional pots and vases.
What happens when restrictive graphic forms are expanded into three-dimensional objects? The kinetic sculptures produced by London-based duo Isabel Gibson and Helen Chesner seem to be one modern-day answer. In their projects, references to historical art and architecture movements are offset by an unabashedly free creative approach that escapes all formal restrictions. Even the final pieces are difficult to categorize: Are they sculptures, products, or props?
Originally from Norway, Amy Hunting and Oscar Narud both completed design education abroad — Hunting at the prestigious Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) in Copenhagen and Narud at the RCA in London — but the design heritage of their home country remains an important theme in their work. "There's obviously this romanticized cliché of Scandinavian style but a lot of young designers are now trying to push back," says Narud when we talk about their aspiration to reinterpret the stereotypical notions of a Nordic aesthetic. "Scandinavian design is redefining itself with our generation. We all struggle with the weight of the heritage, but there's a lot of stuff happening now."
Think of the London-based, Norwegian designer Kim Thomé’s playful approach to design as a Venn diagram of sorts: On the one side is a fondness for color and geometric pattern play, and on the other is an affinity for reflection and creating optical scenarios that can change at the viewer’s discretion. Where the two overlap is a creative region in which the designer thrives.
What really interests Storey is creating immersive environments. “A spatial design work can exist in an image and it’s great for people to experience it that way,” but it’s not the same as being there. The temporariness is an essential part of the experience. Here are 8 of the London set designer's most lasting inspirations.
In terms of sheer distance traversed, if not content, LDF now stands nearly on par with the Milan fair. But these days it’s also becoming equally vital as a destination for open design debate, with a strong manufacturing voice represented and a buffet of ambitious installations on offer. Guide in hand, we hit the mean – but thankfully sunny – streets of London to choose our favorites from this year’s show.
Last week's London Design Festival included plenty of beautiful objects thoughtfully displayed on pedestals or on gallery walls. But possibly even more compelling was the setup at the Ace Hotel's Ready Made Go exhibition, curated by Laura Houseley of Modern Design Review magazine, where visitors could experience a handful of new designs by local up-and-comers actually put to work in their intended habitat.
If illustration doesn't work out for Peter Judson, perhaps he might consider interior design as an alternate career? In the story we published on the London designer today, he revealed that for every day in April of this year, he imagined and drew a different shower stall, complete with tile schemes, hinges, Bacterio-style laminates, and geometric faucets.