English design possesses peculiarities that make it unique, always transgressive and in continuous evolution, a legacy to the desire to explore beyond the usual “think out the box”.
What is its best quality? The ability manifested by its main actors, to transform raw materials using technology, science and creativity with a single purpose, that is to surprise and excite by creating new aesthetic expressions.
It is worth considering how the cultural influences from around the world, deriving from the UK being an Empire, have found a home on the Big Island, creating a cosmopolitan style that coexists with the Victorian tradition.
Edward Barber e Jay Osgerby
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby founded their studio in 1996 after graduating in architecture from the Royal College of Art in London.
Known for their studies on colour, with the limited edition Iris tables, Barber and Osgerby have developed a new direction, using the colour palette as a starting point for their work.
2010 saw the creation of an experimental installation for Sony at the Milan International Furniture Fair through a series of conceptual objects exploiting the new audio technologies of the Japanese brand, in order to optimise electronics in contemporary home interiors.
Another research, this time on school furniture and how the dynamic movement of a chair can help concentration, led to the development of the Tip Ton chair, which can be tilted forward, launched with Vitra in 2011. The same year, Barber and Osgerby were nominated to design the London 2012 Olympic torch.
The talent of the couple did not go unnoticed to Giulio Cappellini, for whom they made 2 tables: the Loop desk, in curved birch wood, and the Mini Bottle coffee table in handmade ceramic.
Their work is exhibited in permanent collections around the world, including the V&A Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The London Design Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
He spent his first four years in North Africa – Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Suez – to later move to Huddersfield (in the north of England). This transition was a real cultural shock. At school there was a large art department. That’s where he says he took refuge.
“Ceramics provided my first encounter with the transformation from nature to design, without me realising it. Somewhere in that couple of years playing with clay, I had the idea that materials can be transformed into something more precious. It’s still what I do.”
After several collaborations with Cappellini, for which he designed such remarkable products as the Pylon Chair, the Bird and the S-Chair, the most recent chapter in Tom Dixon’s history in the world of design began in 2002, when he left his work to create his own brand, a platform for a series of adventures within product and interior design explorations. The Wingback chair perfectly defines his “British” language, linking the Victorian tradition with contemporary aesthetics. Tom knows how to surprise and excite, and the idea behind Melt is a winner. These are lighting fixtures with a glossy polycarbonate diffuser with an organic shape that recalls blown glass lamps. Once turned on, the light alters its appearance making it transparent.
After 15 years, Tom Dixon is a globally recognised force in the field of interior design and boasts hubs in New York, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Los Angeles and Tokyo. The 600 products in his collection range from lighting and furniture, tableware and fragrances. Distributed in 65 countries, they can be immediately recognised for their sculptural qualities and their work on materiality.
Ross lovegrove is a visionary designer attentive to the stimuli of changes in the physicality of our world, with a three-dimensional reading.
Inspired by the logic and beauty of nature, its design has a particular sensitivity for technology, material science and intelligent organic forms, creating what many industrial leaders see as the new aesthetic expression for the 21st century. There is always a deeply human and resourceful approach in his designs, which project innovative optimism and vitality into everything he represents, from cameras to trains, aviation and architecture.
Born in 1958 in Cardiff – Wales, he graduated from Manchester Polytechnic with first class industrial design in 1980. He then gained a Master in Design from the Royal College of Art in London in 1983.
For Artemide he has designed several lighting bodies with strong organic features, such as Chlorophilia and Mercury.
Winner of numerous international awards, his work has been widely published and exhibited, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in NY, Axis Center in Japan, Pompidou Center, and the Design Museum in London, whereby in 1993 he was in charge with the first permanent collection.
Born in London in 1959, he studied at the Kingston Polytecnic, the Royal college of Art in London and the Hochschule der bildenden Künste in Berlin. Among the main exponents of British design, he was the supporter of a new simplicity in the conception of objects, characterised by pure essentiality.
Due to the dryness of its language, his work has been associated with the experiences of minimal art of the sixties and seventies. The designs of the Ply Chair are emblematic, in thin wooden elements with a square section, designed in 1988 for Vitra, and those of the system of containers Universal System for Cappellini in 1989, in which the design of the hole that acts as a handle represents the only decorative license in an overall squared volume.
In 1992 he wrote the book “World without words” and he also designed the installations of important exhibitions such as Documenta 8 by Kassel (1987), Design Werkstadt in Berlin (1988). For his projects he has received numerous awards and recognitions including Bundespreis für Produktdesign (1992), Compasso d’oro (1996), Design Plus (1996) and Prix d’Excellence (1996).
In 1986 he opened the Office for Design studio in London, while in 1989 he founded the design studio Utilism International, which does not have a permanent site. In 1992, with James Irvine, he organized the Object Project for Cappellini, an exhibition on the interaction between design and cinema. Consultant to the public transport company of Hanover, in 1997 he designed the new tram for Expo 2000, awarded with the IF transportation prize and with the Ecology Award.
For Alias he designed the Atlas Stool and the Tagliatelle seat, a citation and evolution of the famous Spaghetti by Giandomenico Belotti.
Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd
Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd founded Pearson-Lloyd in 1997 and have since completed a multitude of projects. In their studio they created a research-based “investigative” work approach in order to combine creations, efficiency and user needs in relation to ergonomics in a balanced way. They have been awarded with the Gold DBA Design Effectiveness and the honour of Royal Designers of Industry, just to cite a few.
“The interaction between people, product and place – and how the product or system can influence our behaviour – is the basis of our practice”.
“We believe that design must satisfy the shared experience as much as that of the individual. We try to identify and respond to the changing patterns of behaviour in our contemporary life ”
In 2011 they designed the Eleven padded seating system for Alias, followed by the tables (2012) and the high back version, with a high back (2015) as a natural complement. Their work with the Bergamo-based company linked to the workplace has been brought to completion with the elegant Slim family seats, characterised by their soft and thin lines.
They live and work in London.