BETHAN LAURA WOOD

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It’s an understatement to say Bethan Laura Wood likes colour. Looking every inch a modern-day Frida Kahlo, the bright young British designer is wowing the global creative scene – and that’s not just down to her eye-popping clothes. Her work, from furniture and glass to ceramics, lighting, textiles and fashion, is bold, vibrant and wonderfully expressive. This week sees Wood curating Broadgate's Makers Mini Market, where East London designers will showcase cross-disciplinary wares. Expect the unexpected...

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about this week's pop-up Makers Mini Market in London.
I was invited to curate the Makers Mini Market and wanted to see how it could be interesting or different from just another type of makers market. I really liked the idea of bringing together a mix of creative people from East London whose work I follow on Instagram and that crosses over different disciplines. 

What can we expect?
There’s dyed marble from Silo Studio, Fashion East newcomer Harry Evans will be showing smaller accessories, and illustrator and sculptor Saelia Aparicio will be showcasing her pickle jars filled with balloons. There are seven designers in total, each with their own shed and creative world. One shed, devoted to workshops and talks, has my pattern all over it and I will be in and around the market.

ABOVE: Bethan Laura Wood in her studio with a bag from the forthcoming 'Toothpaste' collection for luxury Italian accessories brand Valextra. Wood designed witty handles and clasps for the SS18 range
BELOW: Two worlds collide as colourful patterned sheds nestle among the vast corporate structures of Broadgate for Makers Mini Market

ABOVE: Bethan Laura Wood (centre) with her band of East London creatives from Makers Mini Market. From left: Tino Seubert, Beth PostleAttua Aparicio Torinos of Silo Studio, Ryan Coleman Connolly, Kim Thomé, Saelia Aparicio, Harry Evans; Evans invites you in to see his take on menswear and accessories

You've designed for Nilufar Gallery, Bitossi CeramicheKvadrat, Abet Laminati and Hermès, among others. What are you most known for?
My style is very colourful with lots of layers and texture. My work often focuses on materiality and exploring that through design. I also do a lot of locality-based work and make direct references from places when I have the opportunity to travel. For example, I’ve completed a range of designs based on Mexico City: the colours, patterns and architecture there all resonate with me.

Where's next on your travel wish list?
I went to Japan a year ago and absolutely loved it, so I would really love to go back and work with artisans there. I’m also a big lover of kimonos. I would like to spend time seeing how the fabrics are woven and explore how the shapes could be taken in a furniture direction, while honouring their proportions.

BELOW: Wood's spectacular blown glass lights at Peter Pilotto's 'Townhouse Takeover' during September's London Design Festival 2017

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Your floor lamps for Peter Pilotto were a hit at September's London Design Festival and your work appeared in three of our top LDF17 FizzPicks. What was your highlight?
I love the opportunity to collaborate with others on a project like the Peter Pilotto Townhouse Takeover. Much like the Makers Mini Market, I enjoy everyone working together to create something special. 

How does working in fashion and interiors compare?
In the fashion industry, the speed is crazy fast, whereas furniture production has a much longer lead time. For me, I really enjoy the crossover. I’ve just collaborated on a line of handles and clasps for Valextra in Italy, for a limited-edition range of their bags called the 'Toothpaste' collection. It was great to have access to their production and find a way to incorporate my skills too.

ABOVE: Classics with a twist... Milan brand Valextra's 'Toothpaste' collection of iconic 'Iside' (left) and 'Passepartout' (right) handbags updates the original designs' sleek lines with Wood's cartoon-like, graphic handles and clasps. A new 'It' bag duo is born

Left to your own devices, what’s your interior style?
There’s a lot of stuff in my house! It’s not minimal. A lot of my work is inspired by colours, patterns and things that I find at flea markets, so my home is pretty much filled with stuff like that. All of these things go on to inspire a project.

Is there an era or style that you’re drawn to? 
I have a love of 60s Pop furniture and Memphis. I like the joy and excitement in all of their colours. I also live in an amazing Art Deco building in the middle of Hackney. I love it. The signature colour of the architecture is dusky blue with mint-green staircases and pastel-pink doors. I knew it was the place for me.

What qualities do you most like in a room? 
I find lots of objects comforting. A minimal, blank white space may be the dream for some but it is the opposite for me. I love to enter people’s spaces or worlds where there are so many things to look at and explore. I like things busy.

Growing up, what was the dream?
I’ve always been a collector. When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed to paint my walls. I never got my ideas for interior decor past my parents, so I’d change things up with objects instead. 

What part of the design process do you enjoy most?
I love dreaming up concepts and realising the difficult bit of turning ideas and sketches into something amazing. I like model making, so that always makes me happy when I can get off the computer and start building something in 3D. Also, when I go into a workshop and start talking, touching materials, seeing what’s working and what’s not, that's really enjoyable for me.

Who are your design heroes?
My tutors at the RCA, Jurgen Bey (above left) and Martino Gamper (left), have been really influential on my work but there are many, many, many others.

What are you most proud of?
Usually, it’s the last thing I’ve done. I like to keep challenging myself. I have a soft spot for my laminate marquetry. It’s a language and a technique that I love playing with so that’s one of my favourite pieces.

What’s your social media of choice?
I’m aware that I must take part in social media (*sighs*). I’m not really a writer, so I use Instagram the most. It’s fun to see what other people are posting and photographing. 
bethanlaurawood.com  
broadgate.co.uk/makers-mini-market-east-london-where-to-shop
#BroadgateDESIGN

Makers Mini Market, curated by Bethan Laura Wood, runs from 4 to 7 October 2017 at Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, London EC2 (11am–6pm, free admission)

RICHARD WOODS

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Richard Woods is the British artist and designer behind the big, cartoony, painted wood grain furniture for HAY and Established & Sons, and the forest-themed 'Tree Trunk' ceramics at Wrong for Hay. His latest installation, for the current Folkestone Triennial, consists of a series of six mini bungalows dotted around the landscape in unusual locations. Here he talks to DesignFizz about architecture, furniture and his love for wood.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

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Growing up, did you always have an affinity for making things?
Fishing was a big thing in my childhood. My dad was always preparing to go fishing and I remember being into making the fishing floats. They were shaped using sandpaper out of balsa wood and then painted on the top with bright colours. The bottoms were always painted with Rustins black satin paint.

What did you study?
I studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. I have always been a ‘maker’ and hands-on. Looking back at what I made as a student, it was always large. It always involved lots of wood and lots of paint, so maybe nothing much has changed since then!

How would you describe your style?
I think my work is always a cartoon. This allows it to sit physically within the real world while appearing to be visually separate from it. The works are sometimes interactive (floors, furniture). Sometimes they are ‘don’t touch!’ (sculptures and paintings). Whether you can pick them up or they are just for looking at, I think they play equally with our notions of taste and class – and hopefully have a sense of humour.

ABOVE: The new 'Wrongwoods' collection for Established & Sons, 2017
BELOW: 'Tree Trunk' vases for Wrong for HAY, 2015

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ABOVE: 'Bench Press' seating for Established & Sons, 2009

What unites your projects?
After studying sculpture at the Slade, I worked as a carpenter and general builder for about seven years. That was during the early 90s and the whole world seemed to be laying laminate flooring (and I seemed to be laying most of it!). My work is a fusion of what I experienced at college and then the work I did to earn money when I left. I would laminate floors during the day and then found myself printing my own versions of wood patterns in the studio at night.

What materials intrigue you?
Wood.

What’s your art/design ethos?
I’m interested in the spaces where art, design and architecture meet. There used to be an unthinking mantra that art and design somehow needed to be separated out. This was enthusiastically adopted by commercial galleries because it’s a handy way of keeping art more expensive. It’s a dogma that’s been harmful to visual arts, so if I have an ethos of any type, it would be to keep these worlds close and not separate them.

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ABOVE: Woods' mini 'Holiday Home' bungalows are dotted around the coastal town of Folkestone for the fourth Folkestone Triennial, a wry comment on second home ownership and the UK's housing crisis

What inspired you to take part in the Folkestone Triennial?
I visited the site and became excited by an idea that I felt would resonate locally and nationally. (Click here to see our post on the Folkestone Triennial).

What do you reckon is the solution to holiday homes and their effect on villages?
Build more wooden houses that are heated with wood-burning stoves.

Any other recent projects?
I am making a new public artwork commissioned by Birmingham's Eastside Projects and Banbury Council. The work involves hundreds of replica houses, copied from a nearby housing estate. Our tiny model houses will be attached to a canopy of trees in a small wood near the estate. The idea was to give the houses the best back gardens that a house could ever possibly have.

ABOVE: New designs created with Sebastian Wrong for Established & Sons' 'Wrongwoods' collection include the vibrant 'Palm Springs' dining table (top), in a sunny five-colour palette inspired by the Californian city, and a low level monochrome/grey sideboard and dining table

What’s next?
We have been working on some new tables with UK designer Sebastian Wrong. Our collaboration, which has been developing for 10 years now, is called ‘Wrongwoods’. Previewed at 2017's recent London Design Festival, they're the first new products we've made with Established & Sons for five years, so it will be really interesting to see what the world makes of them.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
dRMM's wooden pier in Hastings is great. It’s a beautiful big open space – good for running around. I love that they’ve managed to avoid all the usual, miserable retail opportunities and it makes you aware of the fantastic expanse of open sea.

Where or how do you find inspiration?
Walking in woods or listening to live music. We live near Epping Forest, so I can get out and hug a tree pretty regularly, and I try to see some live music at least every couple of weeks. It’s one of the luxuries of living in London. Last week we were lucky enough to catch Deerhoof, which was truly inspirational.

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Who are your design heroes?
This week it's artist Franz West and architect Kazumasa Yamashita. I'm also inspired by musicians Jonathan Richman and Richard Dawson.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Anywhere with a big forest. There's a plan to take my kids over to Scandinavia pretty soon. I think we’ll find some big forests there.

ABOVE: The iconic 'Face House' in Kyoto by Japanese architect Kazumasa Yamashita

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram. I’m more keen on pictures than words. 
richardwoodsstudio.com

The Folkestone Triennial is on now until 5 November 2017. The new 'Wrongwoods' collection is available to order from selected stores. Visit establishedandsons.com for local stockists

Pictures: Peer Lindgreen, Thierry Bal

FREDRIKSON STALLARD

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London duo Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, aka Fredrikson Stallard, operates at the outer limits of design. The Fizz catches up with the men in black as they prepare to unveil a new furniture collection in Milan

BY DEE IVA

 

How did Fredrikson Stallard start?
It was a very organic process that began when we met at Central Saint Martins in 1995. Patrik studied product design and Ian studied ceramic design. After university Ian set up his own ceramic studio, designing, making and selling his works. Patrik was working as an architect and designer for a small architectural firm connected with the late Zaha Hadid’s practice. We started to design pieces together, such as the log tables 'Table#1' and 'Table#2' (above right) and 'Ming#1' vases (right), that set the foundation for Fredrikson Stallard. We first showed our work together at 100% Design in London in 2003 and officially launched as Fredrikson Stallard with our solo show 'Gloves for an Armless Venus' at Tribeca Grand in New York in May 2005.

As a Swedish/British duo what do each of you bring to Fredrikson Stallard?
We both share the same ideologies about the avenue of design that we have carved out for ourselves. The more we work together the more everything becomes interlinked and it would be impossible to say that one or the other has a certain speciality. Ian is generally more diplomatic while Patrik is more uncompromising and together this works well.

ABOVE: Swede Patrik Fredrikson (left) and Brit talent Ian Stallard (right)
BELOW: Let there be blood. 'The Lovers' urethane rug, 2005

How would you describe your style?
Abstract Expressionistic, process-driven high design with integrity.

You’ve been associated with the ‘Design Art’ scene of the Noughties. Many have fallen by the wayside while you have blossomed. What is the key to your success?
We are truly passionate about we do – it is a strong desire we need to fulfil rather than a job – and also we never follow trends but do what we believe in. A lot of galleries and designers jumped on the so-called 'Design Art' bandwagon purely because they thought they could make money, and all of them were wiped away by the recession. We have delivered outstanding works that museums all over the globe collect to mark an important time and place and, as with any historically important art, it is paramount that it's not driven by financial gains. We have an amazing team who are just as dedicated to the arts as ourselves. We believe it's this calling that has been paramount to our success. Of course, there are financial interests in what we do, but this must never be the driving force.

ABOVE: 'Silver Crush Side Table', 2012
BELOW: 'Barbarians' by Hofesh Shechter, touring now

Who inspires you?
Life! It’s more a question of what than who. Anything from fashion to fine art shows to contemporary dance performances, and from the remote Swedish wilderness to East London's club scene. We thrive on contrasts, to live in constant energetic flux. Often people probably don't understand the creative value we put on placing ourselves into extreme alternating positions, from crazy dark debauched nights to complete serenity in our house on a cliff in the Greek archipelago. This creates an incredible emotional tension that feeds our creativity.

In terms of specific people, one that springs to mind at the moment is the choreographer Hofesh Shechter. We love the rawness of his work and the way it balances on the ridge between beauty and dark chaos.

Tell us about your new 'Gravity' collection
The 'Gravity' collection expresses traces of process, traces of a chaotic and dynamic transience captured in a moment of stillness: a record of a continuous flux that has been frozen in time. The pieces are studies of the relationship between natural and synthetic, geometric and organic, analogue and digital, sculptural and industrial, one-off and multiple.

It is a collection of functional objects where the context, process and sculptural aesthetics are paramount, as with fine art sculpture. The pieces are a symbiosis between us physically, our vision, the material and the process.

BELOW: The translucent ice-cool 'Gravity' tables, 2015, recently shown at London's David Gill Gallery; Fredrikson Stallard's new 'Camouflage' outdoor furniture for Driade, 2016


You’re launching a new furniture collection this April in Milan. Tell us more...
It’s outdoor furniture for Italian brand Driade, which we are very excited about. We feel that we have created something new. Modernism killed so many human nuances such as the importance of sculptural aesthetics that make our lives richer. With outdoor furniture the design criteria was always to be able to fold, stack and store it until the weather allowed us to spend time outside again. This collection offers not just an alternative but also a new solution, with duality that will allow the furniture to be left outside all year and enrich our environment as sculptural objects. Like a fallen tree or a flat rock, that become natural seating and tables in warmer weather but have an equally beautiful life in winter, the 'Camouflage' collection changes emphasis with the seasons. Just imagine the pieces in a snow-laden garden landscape – they would look fabulous when the snow lands on them outlining the cut-out camouflage pattern.

ABOVE: The unearthly 'Species' sofa collection, 2015, resembles an alien landscape

Which of your pieces are you proudest of?
We have a strong relationship with all the pieces we have created, so it's like trying to choose your favourite child! Probably the work we have been proudest of recently would be the incredible 'Gravity' tables and also the 'Species' sofas, especially as one has just been acquired by SFMOMA, the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opening this May.

Is there one product you admire and wish you had designed?
We are generally more admirers of the fine arts, but one product that maybe comes to mind is the 'Taraxacum' light by Achille Castiglioni for Flos, originally designed in 1960 and revisited in 1988.

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram.
fredriksonstallard.com

 

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…
barberosgerby.com

THEO WILLIAMS Another Brand

Acclaimed UK designer Theo Williams – formerly creative director of Habitat and head of design for John Lewis Home – has collaborated with manufacturer Qualita to launch his own furniture company Another Brand, the home of beautiful, no-nonsense pieces where quality is king

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How did you get into the industry?
I started in graphics at Manchester University before switching to industrial design. There was a competition to design a radio, which I won. I used to live with a bunch of DJs so I took the idea of a wheel that spun through the stations from them. The next thing I was in Milan, needling people and designing products for studios such as Marco Zanuso, Prada and Alessi.

Describe your style in three words
Simple, honest, rational. I hate the phrase ‘form and function’ but it’s true. There should always be a reason for something being there. When I’m coming up with a new design, I start with a list of functions that the product must have before moving on to its finish and colour. That is what gives an object its design edge and transforms it into the thing of the moment. The shape doesn’t.

How did Another Brand come about?
After all these years working with lots of designers and big brands, I wanted to work directly with the manufacturer. We play to our strengths. They hold the stock and take care of distribution, while I come up with the designs. By partnering up with Qualita, we have created a new business for them and an opportunity for us. The idea is to work with a variety of manufacturers to create a cohesive collection of products.

ABOVE: Theo in his studio in Queen's Park, London
ABOVE RIGHT: The 'Tavolini Primo' tables are designed to tuck in together, each at varying heights and widths. Available in assorted colourways, the 'Primo' circular tables have a painted solid oak top and base and a natural oak leg, and are sold flat-packed in a kraft box
BELOW: The 'Tavolini Strada' set of three rectangular tables nests together in varying heights, lengths and widths and comes in five finishes, Light Grey, Petrol Blue, Yellow, Flame Red and Latte Oak

What was the idea behind the new Tavolini designs, launched at London Design Festival 2015?
The premise was to have something that you can pick up and walk away with in a lovely box – an impulse buy; the prices also reflect this. All the tables are different. There are oak, glass, metal and fabric tops… We’re a one-stop-shop for small tables.

How are the products made?
When it comes to designing for Another Brand, we consider the manufacturer’s capabilities. It all works backwards from what they can or cannot do. 

What’s coming up next? 
There’s going to be more Tavolini and we’re moving into upholstery and lighting. Theo Williams Studio has also been commissioned to co-design a capsule of accessories for McLaren Honda Formula 1 team in 2016 until further notice.

ABOVE FROM TOP: The circular 'Tavolini Primo' side table trios have a small footprint but are big on impact; In clear or smoked glass with oak legs, the 'Tavolini Ponte' coffee table has retro Italian styling
BELOW: Another Brand's earlier 'Cubo' range by Williams includes tables, storage and seating for dining/living rooms, office, bedroom or hall. Finishes, colours and sizes can be modified to suit you (we love this graphic blue). Qualita produces the furniture in London and Lithuania

What are your influences?
I quite like a grid. I’m drawn to things that are graphic-led and well thought out. I love proportions, posters and packaging books – things like that. A lot of my influences are from Italy. There was a certain formula to working there but it was liberating and instinctive. Also, back in the day there were no computers, so everything was drawn by hand. 

You spent 15 years working in Milan and two years in Amsterdam before moving back to London. How do the cities compare?
Milan was the exception to the rule. Everything was possible back then. The creative energy was enormous. For my first job as design director at NAVA Design, I didn’t speak any Italian and they just said: ‘Invent, think, create and see what we can do.’ They trusted designers to make things better. I remember aesthetics, taste and style being relative. It wasn’t judged on seasons or trends just good ideas and solutions. It was the attention to detail and perfection the Italians taught me; they were simply perfectionists at design, printing and production. I remember them fondly. They were my second family.

In Amsterdam I began working with a corporate structure for a couple of years, which was creatively driven but without the instinctive nature of Italy. Nobody really owned anything. It was inspiring for the first year but I missed the spontaneity and instinctive nature of the Italians.

London for me seems to have all of the above and more. After 17 years away from the UK I can feel an undercurrent entrepreneurial spirit, which I think defines British creativity, with a bit of wit thrown in. There’s a natural impulse where people are just getting on with it and this creates an organic point of view and personality. There is a tradition in the UK where designers are interested in the processes, but we have moved away from traditional manufacturing towards innovative creative solutions. Reacting to the market is one thing but the depth and choice of the colleges and mixed nationalities studying here creates this entrepreneurial spirit; if only they had more opportunity to make and not just design. A few more workshops and manufacturers would be useful. The ideas are plentiful. It’s the making of them that’s hard.

BELOW: We love the slender forms and bright weaves of Theo’s 'Tavolini Lago' occasional tables, which feature an innovative fabric top. Usually used for outdoor parasols, the Sunbrella material is red wine-proof...

Who are your design heroes?
Achille Castiglioni, James Irvine (who was a good friend of mine), Jasper Morrison, Marco Zanuso and companies such as Alessi. When you look at that Philippe Starck lemon squeezer, it’s ridiculous. It’s everything they don’t teach you at school. 

Where’s on your travel wish list?
I’ve got to go to Shanghai but I’m not sure that’s on my wish list as such. I’m taking my son to New York in April, which is exciting. I promised him we would do the Shard, the Eiffel Tower and next it’s the Empire State Building. 

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
A storyteller. I have piles of short stories that I have written, all based on my childhood. All of the stories are true.

ABOVE LEFT: Philippe Starck's iconic 'Juicy Salif' lemon squeezer for Alessi c 1990
BELOW: All of Another Brand's flat-pack 'Tavolini' tables come beautifully packaged in a set of three

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
I’ve always wanted to build a brand from the bottom up, which is what I’m doing now. 

What’s your social media of choice?
I like Instagram the best. I don’t do selfies on the beach but, instead, use it for things I see and love.
anotherbrand.co.uk; theowilliams.com