BARBER & OSGERBY

British duo Barber & Osgerby – aka Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby – has bagged awards for their sleekly simple, contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories. Consummate designers, they're as capable of creating a stunning chair or innovative shower control as masterminding a radical installation for London's V&A Museum or hotel or fashion store interiors via their architectural practice Universal Design Studio. We caught up with Jay for the lowdown...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
Beauty through simplicity.

What’s it like working together? And what qualities do you each bring to the table?
Our design process is like a long conversation, sometimes there are just the two of us, but mostly in our busy studio there are several who participate. Ideas go back and forth between us all and soon the sketching starts and then the model-making. We are extremely lucky that we work so well together, and that we have such an amazing team with us. We obviously have our own characteristics, likes and dislikes, but we think that the combined design output of two, is greater and smarter that the sum of the two halves!

ABOVE: Edward Barber (left) and Jay Osgerby of Barber & Osgerby
ABOVE RIGHT: 'Hotaru' paper lanterns manufactured by Ozeki
BELOW FROM TOP: Barber & Osgerby's Nordic winter-inspired 'Triptych' installation for 2016's Stockholm Furniture Fair, where they were Guests of Honour; it featured their recent furniture and lighting designs, including the 'Pilot' chair for Knoll, 2015, in tactile cowhide

You’ve designed furniture, lighting, tableware, installations, a coin and even the London Olympic torch! Is there any new territory you’d like to tackle?
We’d like to design a bridge, the perfect combination of form and function, engineering and sculpture. 

Where do you get inspiration?
We get inspiration from many sources – art, sculpture, museums – but mostly through travel. When we travel we find the local flea markets, where we can discover the relics of a culture and understand how different countries and societies have created objects to do the same job but in different ways. 

BELOW FROM TOP: 'Olio' tableware for Royal Doulton, 2015, in glazed and unglazed ceramic, wood and stainless steel. 'Tobi-Ishi' occasional table for B&B Italia, 2012, in smoke-blue lacquer, white Carrara and black Marquina marble

Who are your design heroes, or which era, building or interior do you find inspiring?
There are too many to mention… and we’re always finding new ones.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
The return of craft, and people rediscovering how important it is for all of us to make something. We are tired of the commoditisation of all objects. We see the return of an appreciation of the small producers and the craft that goes into making. 

BELOW FROM TOP: Past designs for Vitra and Knoll, including the 'Tip Ton' chair for Vitra, 2011, and the 'Pilot' chair for Knoll, 2015

Which recent projects are you excited about?
We are always most excited about the projects that we are working on at the moment – and most of them are secret, of course. We are looking forward to launching our new tiles for Italian brand Mutina in Milan this April. The range is called ‘Puzzle’, and it’s a huge collection of abstract, colourful ceramic tiles. 

What else will you be launching at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair or beyond?
New work for Swiss brand Vitra and US firm Knoll, currently under wraps; many other new things are on the horizon. 

ABOVE FROM TOP: 'Collector Cabinets' for Glas Italia, 2015; 'Axor One' shower control for Axor, 2015

Where’s on your travel wish list and why?
I am writing this from Singapore, and in one hour I have a 13-hour flight home – so my travel wish list is to stay in London!

What’s your social media of choice and why?
I prefer to avoid social media, and if I could I would throw away my phone…
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