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

MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES

Cypriot-born, London-based designer Michael Anastassiades is known for his pared back aesthetic and sculptural, one-of-a-kind lighting. A former Royal College of Art and Imperial College graduate, his perfectly poised designs use simple geometric shapes that complement both contemporary interiors and elegant homes

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How would you describe your work and philosophy?
‘Reduced’ is how I would sum it up. I don’t like to use the word 'minimal' because I feel that is misunderstood in terms of design. What I’m looking for is simplicity. I like to remove excess information from the visual language of the object to distill it to a point where actually, what I decide to give it, is the bare minimum. I believe this is really important in communicating the idea behind an object.

Tell us about your new products for Italian lighting firm Flos. 
The ideas were different for each one. In the case of 'Captain Flint', it was about trying to make a light that works in a doorway. On the one hand, it can be a reading light next to a sofa, but by simply changing the direction you have an uplighter for a more ambient atmosphere, or you can even direct the spot against a wall or specific object. On a practical level, it is a light that works in all sorts of scenarios. The inspiration plays on the idea of balance. The cone balances on its tip, on a stick, which is an extension of the collection of the 'IC' light.

ABOVE: Michael Anastassiades with his 'String Light Cone Head' pendant lights for Flos, inspired by electricity pylon power lines
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: 'Captain Flint' can be rotated through 360 degrees. It comes in two finishes – brushed brass with a white Carrara marble base and anthracite with a black Marquinia marble base

What is your starting point?
In the case of my latest collection for Flos, I addressed the notion of balance. There is a sense of anxiety, almost. How is it possible? How can a cone balance on a stick? The practicalities of a design are subconscious. They are always there and you have to solve them at the end of the day.

What draws you to lighting?
Lighting for me is fascinating because it is special. It is not the same as any other product design. It has to work in two different scenarios: when it is on and when it is off, and this duality is very challenging. When it is off, you view it as an object and the space it occupies but suddenly, when the bulb is switched on, then it exists in an entirely different way. The way it interacts with other objects, in terms of casting shadows changes everything. Of course, light is a very beautiful and very poetic medium and that is what attracted me to it in the first place.

BELOW: Also for Flos, Anastassiades' spherical 'Extra' table lamp plays with balance, and comes in bronze, graphite and silver finishes; The 'Copycat' light is composed of two connecting spheres. The large illuminated globe is contrasted by a smaller one in polished aluminium, electroplated 24 carat gold, black nickel or copper

Which of your lighting designs are your favourites?
I live with very few objects in my home and so the things that I choose are carefully selected. In terms of my own designs, I like living with them but it tends to work on a rotational basis because I don’t have space for all of them. There are different reasons why I like something. Sometimes it is sentimental in the sense that it could be one of my early pieces of work. Sometimes it could be a reminder of an experience that I’ve had.

ABOVE: Another balancing act is pulled off by the 'IC' standard and table lamps in chrome and brushed brass

Beyond lighting, is there any new design territory you would like to tackle?
I am already working on furniture. I have a partnership with US brand Herman Miller that allows me to explore that world, however, lighting is really my passion, my preference. The collaboration with Flos is important. We started in 2011 and the first product launch was in 2013.

Who are your design heroes?
I have many. I wouldn’t say they were heroes. It’s too much load to bear, I think, to be a hero. For me, I like different designers in the same way that I like a lot of artists' work. I am more inspired by art than I am by design.

Photo by HIT1912/iStock / Getty Images

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Unfortunately, I only go to places where work takes me. There is very little time to explore other parts. Cyprus and Greece are special destinations when it comes to choosing places to rest but they don’t excite me like Tokyo, for example, which I find fascinating. I’ve been many times but I always like to go back.

What’s your social media of choice?
I am quite distant from it. I do use Facebook, and Instagram I find interesting, but all these things consume you in a way that I don’t really like. I like to get inspiration from observation instead. They are good tools to keep in touch with people but that is the best use I can think of for them.
michaelanastassiades.com  studiomichaelanastassiades.com

Pictures: Frank Huelsboemer, Giuseppe Brancato, Getty Images

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

RUSSELL PINCH Pinch

British duo Russell and Oona Pinch of Clapham furniture makers Pinch are mostly known for their slender, light-as-air wooden pieces. At the London Design Festival 2015, their monolithic 'Nim' coffee table at Shoreditch's Rochelle School was quite the head-turner. We talk to Russell about how this radical new direction came about...

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

What was the idea behind the 'Nim' table?
With 'Nim' we wanted to mark the milestone of 11 years in business with an exciting creative project – a gift to ourselves. Instead of a party we decided to invest in a piece we would not ordinarily do, one that required a substantial set-up and explored new materials and tone.

What was it inspired by?
Mood. That particular feeling when things are super-charged and energetic but still appear calm and collected and smooth on the outside. It’s an exploration of texture and form, referencing lava strata, stone and weather. The table captures all the movement, power, potential and beauty of the natural world expressed as a new man-made object. 

ABOVE: Russell and Oona Pinch
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW:  The fabulously tactile 'Nim' table makes a virtue of its concrete-like solidity and the contrast between its smooth polished surface and almost-singed, textured base. Airbrushed in inky hues, the table is made from hand-finished Jesmonite, a gypsum/resin composite normally used in building projects, 'floating' on a raised foot

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What is your favourite thing about it?
The transformation from a rough eroded textured side, flowing into a perfectly formed and smooth recessed top. 

How does it reflect your style?
It is serene but feels strong at the same time. In the majority of our work we seek to pare back and back until only the absolutely necessary remains. In this case, we wanted to celebrate and enjoy the mass of the piece, so it’s the opposite of our normal mode, but is still recognisable as our style due to its mood.

What was the reason behind the choice of material?
Our concept led us to use Jesmonite, which has excellent casting properties and can replicate very fine details. Jesmonite is also lighter than stone or concrete, and less invasive to both user and the environment.

What do you consider when working on a new design?
We often set our design briefs by thinking about what we need in our real/imaginary home, alongside how the whole range hangs together. We want it to feel inviting and elegant, but also with a creative aspect and resonance – and always offering a relationship to the materials. Just as our 'Twig' seats and 'Anders' lights brought another tone and perspective to our pieces, with the 'Nim' table we wanted to add a new dimension to our collection. The contrast in material and shape drives its personality.  

ABOVE: The elegant 'Leta' chaise longue is part of Pinch's new look AW15 collection

What part of the process do you like the most?
Experimentation and model making. It’s more like a sculpture workshop at this stage of the process, where we are turning pieces, whittling objects, playing with form, materiality and colour. It’s really like playing but don’t tell anyone.

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
A farmer or an economist (I know, don’t ask!).

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ABOVE: The bold 'Twig' bench and seating/side table cubes made from coppiced hazel have become a contemporary design classic

Who or what is exciting you in design right now?
More experimentation. We have opened the floodgates with 'Nim'. Right now, we have more ideas than time and money to bring things to life, but maybe that’s the right way round.  

Your biggest must-have in a home is… A great kitchen with appliances that allow for open flame cooking and good ventilation. Cooking and eating and all they entwine is life for me. It’s the beating heart of my home.

What are you due to work on next?
Another coffee table of equal impact, a new desk and we are just talking about working with a wonderful ceramics company.

What’s your social media of choice?
Ha – topical point, nothing until very recently. I think most of my old college friends must think I’ve died as I’m not personally on Facebook, however, Pinch has just starting on Instagram. How does anyone achieve anything though if you’re doing that all day? 
pinchdesign.com

The 'Nim' table by Pinch, £4,350. Limited edition of 50 numbered pieces


Photographs: James Merrell  jamesmerrell.co.uk 
Portrait: Francesco Guidicini  tumblr.com/tagged/francesco-guidicini