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

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

CHRISTINA SCHMIDT Skandium

In the Eighties and Nineties Scandinavian furniture meant flat packs to most people in the UK but in 1998 a new destination store dedicated to modern and classic Scandi design arrived in London. The Fizz goes behind the scenes with Christina Schmidt, co-founder of Skandium, to see what floats her boat...

BY DEE IVA

How did Skandium come about?
The seed idea sparked when my partner Magnus Englund and I found a cooking pot in a provincial department store in Finland. It was the pot, we thought, what a ’looker’... so simple, like a child would draw a pot, yet perfect in proportion and execution. We learned that it was designed by typographer Björn Dahlström for a new kitchen range by Finnish company Iittala called Iittala Tools. Iitala had begun the journey of reinventing themselves for a contemporary market.

We thought the concept was smashing as all the objects were simple but divinely perfect, in a way the reinvention of modernism, celebrating timeless beauty. So we thought let’s put together Alvar Aalto from 1924 with these pieces because style never goes out of fashion. It is not about being fashionable. If it is beautiful and relevant, it is a long-term investment in the quality of your life. With this in mind, we headed to the little island of Hästö in the Finnish archipelago and sat by the water’s edge, contemplating what we should call this idea and how to go about it. That was summer 1998.

ABOVE: Christina Schmidt, co-founder and creative director of Skandium
ABOVE RIGHT: Casserole with lid by Björn Dahlström for Iittala, 1998
BELOW: Hästö island, where the idea for Skandium was born

Do you have a favourite classic Scandinavian design piece?
I do not have a favourite as such as there are so many superb pieces and the design chosen will have to work well in the space you are living in. But If I had to choose, I would always pick the 'PH Artichoke' pendant in copper, by Poul Henningsen, the 'Trolley 900' with basket by Alvar Aalto (great as a side table), a cooking pot by Björn Dahlström and the 'Lempi' glasses by Matti Klenell which serve water, wine and milk equally well.

ABOVE LEFT: 'PH Artichoke' pendant light by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen, from £4,900
ABOVE: 'Trolley 900' by Alvar Aalto for Artek, £2,365
BELOW: 'Lempi' tumblers by Matti Klenell for Iittala, from £12.50

Describe your personal interiors style
I am not so fussed about ‘retro’ as such. I do like great design and love new ideas, no matter what time they are from. I love the craftsmanship and thought behind the classic pieces of Scandinavian design, hence my passion for it, but when executing a project I like to mix styles from different periods, to keep it simple and harmonious and throw in a bit of the unexpected.

You were once a fashion and lifestyle photographer, who did you shoot for?
That was 20 years ago! I worked for the local fashion magazines and advertising agencies in Stockholm. Among others I did a shoot with Izabella Scorupco (right) who had long dark hair at the time. We used an ice blonde bob wig on her for the campaign and she later cut her hair and changed its colour. Izabella went on to play Bond girl Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye. I had a brilliant assistant at the time, Elisabeth Toll, whom I am proud to say is now a stunning fashion photographer with international assignments. It all has to start somewhere.

Do you still take pictures and has this shaped or influenced your work at Skandium?
I always think and act from a visual point, it is innate. I do not take pictures for Skandium as there is simply not the time for it since the content of what we do is so very wide. My focus today is interior design which is my passion. For this I take pictures for Skandium to go online and for my Instagram account.

BELOW: 'At Ease' sofa by Daniel Schofield, £2,700. Exclusive to Skandium

What's next for Skandium?
There are so many companies out there and many offer the same or similar products as we have done for the last 16 years, so for us it is to enhance the focus on concept living and tighter editing on what we believe makes the Scandinavian aspect alluring. We don’t show everything just because it is on the market. For this year's London Design Festival we will showcase a new Skandium collection including a range of furniture by Swedish architect Jonas Lindvall and a Stig Lindberg retrospective with Swedish manufacturer Röstrand including our own range of bowls bearing Lindberg's distinctive illustrations from the children's book 'Daniel Tip Your Toe'.

ABOVE RIGHT: 'Stig Lindberg Bowls', £12.50 each. Exclusive to Skandium
BELOW: The first Skandium store touched down in Wigmore Street, London, in 1998

Who or what is currently exciting you in design?
I am actually more impressed with good craftsmanship and production than design as such. Without good craftsmanship there is never good design and in the ‘old’ days the craftsman was innately also the designer. I love seeing a mix of materials in an object where the combination enhances the experience, not just ‘entertains’. I will always love simple execution in both shape and material, such as the Collective Tools 'Serving Spoon' by Antonio Citterio for Iittala.

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
The 'Trolley 900' with basket by Alvar Aalto for Artek, as it is functional, stylish and very charming – the dream combination!

What's your social media of choice?
My personal one is Instagram without a doubt, I loooooove it!
skandium.com

Izabella Scorupco by Mark Mainz/ Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

André Fu AFSO

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Hong Kong designer André Fu has become synonymous with subtly luxe hotel interiors (you'll never want to leave The Upper House in Hong Kong or Singapore's The Fullerton Bay Hotel). His studio AFSO has created bold, sensuous spaces for art galleries, restaurants and Lane Crawford’s Shoe Library, as well as actress Michelle Yeoh's home. Maison&Objet Asia chose Fu as its 2016 Designer of the Year.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

How would you describe your design style?
My style has been described as ‘Modern Asian’, yet I would say my design pursuit is driven by modernist, tactile and sensuous aesthetics. 

What’s the secret to creating a gorgeous hotel or hospitality space?
I typically begin a project by travelling to a location and absorbing its dynamics and colours. Another key aspect is to engage in in-depth discussions with the hotelier or owner. I then study the flow of the project and conjure up a series of images that formulates the holistic experience desired.

ABOVE RIGHT: New eau de toilette Fargesia, formulated with perfumer Julian Bedel, takes its cue from bamboo, Sichuan pepper and the emotion of the spaces Fu designs
BELOW:  Fu's interiors for The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore, radiate modern glamour; Tactile materials and sculptural forms create subtle wow factor at Hong Kong's The Upper House

You have a love affair with luxurious but minimal materials, from sensual surfaces to sculpture. What’s your preferred palette?
I love timber for its warmth and versatility. I also use a significant amount of stone in my designs for its tactile quality.

How do you feel about being made Designer of the Year?
Maison&Objet is an important celebration of modern artisanship and the title is a tremendous recognition. I’m participating in two talks – one discussion on my personal career and design philosophy, and my new lifestyle brand AndreFuLiving.com. Another session will focus on the relationship between the hotelier and design architect. I also have a pop-up exhibition showcasing my work, including my hand sketches and large-scale prints for my new perfume. Fargesia is an eau de toilette for the body – the nose is very pure, fresh and crisp. It consists of bamboo, citrus and ginger.

BELOW: The new André Fu Living collection includes a 2015 Assouline book on Fu's work and his calming rugs for Tai Ping

What will your new brand André Fu Living include?
My understanding of the latest evolution in the world of hospitality design is that it gradually demands more profound human sensitivity. As such, I wanted to move into the broader world of lifestyle with the establishment of André Fu Living (AFL). My vision is very much in the spirit of a select shop – an edit of artisanal objects that’s about a journey of discovery, exploration and ultimately collaborations in every sense.

ABOVE: AFSO's zen 'Urban Landscape' installation for fashion brand COS on a Hong Kong pier took inspiration from Asian cities and nature

Where or how do you get inspiration?
My exposure to both the East and West makes me appreciate the fact that lifestyle is not something that can be imposed – it’s derived from culture and all things pure.

Who are your design heroes?
Mies van der Rohe – or the modernist era that explores the purity of lines and forms. It is also an era of significant design evolution that responds to new ways of living.

BELOW: Fu's sleek new 'Skyliner' bathroom fixtures for US brand Cooper & Graham previews at Maison&Objet Asia, including a wall-mounted shower arm with shower rose and thermostatic shower mixer

What’s currently exciting you in design?
The ‘Skyliner’ series, a new collection of bathroom fixtures I have created in collaboration with US brand Cooper & Graham. It is a celebration of the ‘twentieth century modern’ – a collection that is a paradigm of contemporary Asian architecture made of sculptural blocks that juxtapose and interlock. We are previewing key pieces from the collection at Maison&Objet Singapore, from a range of mixer taps to towel rails in a special oil-rubbed bronze finish.

Where’s on your travel wish list? 
Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist architecture.

ABOVE: Hong Kong's mash-up of global influences inspires Fu. We love the city's buzzy PMQ design centre set in the old Police Married Quarters

What’s the Hong Kong design scene like, and do you get inspiration from your hometown?
Hong Kong certainly is a juxtaposition between the East and the West – perhaps this unique setting has allowed the city to have a greater awareness of design in the past few years. My upbringing partially in Asia and also in Europe has allowed me to experience two distinct cultures first-hand and observe lifestyles empowered by history and heritage.

What’s next for you work wise?
We are working with a renowned glass company on a collection to be presented at Salone del Mobile in Milan this April.

What’s your social media of choice?
Kinfolk for upcoming trends and palettes.
afso.net

André Fu is Designer of the Year at Maison&Objet Asia (8-11 March 2016) at Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, where he will launch new brand André Fu Living.

BRODIE NEILL Made in Ratio

Born in Australia, Brodie Neill's designs have proved a global hit. His eponymous London-based label crafts limited editions and public commissions, while his brand Made in Ratio produces eye-catching furniture and lighting. A furniture design graduate from Tasmania, he has created work for Italian firms Kundalini and Riva 1920, as well as one-off projects for Austrian crystal company Swarovski and British fashion guru Alexander McQueen.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What inspired you to start Made in Ratio?
I set up Made in Ratio in 2013 to create a more accessible furniture collection to sit alongside the limited edition and commission pieces produced by my studio, but one that still maintained my trademark high quality of form, originality and innovation. 

What’s the brand’s design vision?
To bring thoughtful and progressive ideas to life that are in perfect proportion: of form and function, time-honoured and new materials, traditional hand craftsmanship and boundary-pushing digital process. 

ABOVE: Brodie Neill with his sculptural 2015 'Wishbone' seats, three-way organic benches commissioned by Hobart's Brooke Street Pier
ABOVE RIGHT: The stackable 'Alpha' chair with A-shaped back

ABOVE: The head-turning 'Supernova' table and 'Alpha' chair helped put Neill's London-based brand Made in Ratio on the map, combining traditional craftsmanship with digital technology

Your ‘Supernova’ table and ‘Alpha’ chair have helped make your name. Tell us more.
Both ‘Supernova’ and ‘Alpha’ are the result of organic engineering, inspired by nature and refined through technology. The ‘Supernova’ trestle is formed by pouring 100 per cent recycled molten aluminium into a sand casted mould. We combined an ancient manufacturing process with environmental sustainability to produce a modern product with a long lifespan. A toughened glass top rests on the star-shaped trestles, which can be positioned in various multiples and orientations to create a dining table, desk or coffee table.

Our ‘Alpha’ chair is inspired by whale vertebrae that wash up on the shores of Tasmania’s coast. The name is derived from the A-shaped structure of the back legs and backrest, which give the chair its strength. ‘Alpha’ is formed from six components individually CNC-shaped and assembled into the single seamless form using traditional and contemporary woodworking techniques.

What projects do you have coming up?
2016 kicked off with Made in Ratio presenting our collection at January's Maison&Objet design fair in Paris, including reiterations of some of our most recognised pieces. We are planning events at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan and the London Design Festival. In Australia, I was delighted to be shortlisted for the recent Rigg Design Prize exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. Made in Ratio also has exciting projects coming up in 2016 through its commercial partner Living Edge design store in Australia. In Hobart, we have designed the ‘Wishbone’ sculptural seating for the Brooke Street Pier, which is now open to the public.

BELOW: Made in Ratio's 2013 'Cowrie Rocker' rocking lounger takes its cue from the concave curves of seashells. The sweeping all-in-one structure is formed from plywood with a veneer of natural ash, ebonised ash, walnut or oak.

photo: brooke holm

photo: brooke holm

Do you still work independently as Brodie Neill on design-art and limited edition commissions? Or does Made in Ratio dominate your time?
The two studios work hand-in-hand and our research and experimentation for projects in one studio informs our work in the other. I established Made in Ratio as a small, self-produced collection to complement my complete creative output. Currently, under the Brodie Neill arm, we are working on private commissions in Asia and the USA, new furniture products for Italian brand Riva 1920, and ‘Portal’, an eight-metre sculpture for Brooke Street Pier on the waterfront of Tasmania's capital Hobart, a landmark meeting point that will be installed mid-2016.

Where do you get inspiration?
The beauty and complexity found in nature continues to be my biggest source of inspiration; over millennia, through evolution, nature has already resolved many of the design challenges we face today. This inspiration manifests itself in the overall form as well as the details in my designs.

ABOVE: Moulded from a single piece of Corian, Made in Ratio's 2014 'Pleat' indoor/outdoor bench effortlessly overlaps at each end to create an elegant silhouette

How do the UK and Australian design scenes differ?
With the help of modern communication, the two countries are now closer than ever before and through recent projects, I’ve been lucky to be part of both. London is nearer to other established design capitals such as Milan, Paris and Stockholm as well as burgeoning design scenes in cities including Berlin, Lodz and Ljubljana, which all influence the vibrancy of the creative scene and diversity of work across Europe. 

In Australia it’s great to see local design getting the chance to shine, thanks to some fantastic recent projects, with more currently underway all over the country. Through Made in Ratio’s partnership with Living Edge we are fortunate to be part of these exciting schemes.

Globally, we’re seeing a shift away from the bigger brands of Europe and North America – these guys still control the market share don’t get me wrong! – but we’re seeing a scope for smaller operations as alternatives and this suits locally designed and produced pieces in Australia and throughout the world. 

What’s currently exciting you in design, architecture or art?
I find it inspiring to see materials being used in original ways and innovation in processes where new life is breathed into forgotten crafts through the aid of digital design. It’s also at the crossroads of previously defined design fields that the real magic happens, where science meets art, nature meets technology and the old meets the new. Preconceived design disciplines are discarded allowing contemporary creatives to roam free across uncharted territory.

ABOVE: The 'Supernova' table in a fresh incarnation, supported by a trio of trestles in spaceage shapes and tempting turquoise

Which design era has influenced you the most?
The pioneering period of the 1950s and 60s has been particularly influential in my designs. It was a very potent time of experimenting with new materials and technologies. The era also saw an emergence of playfulness in designers and their sculptural ideas for the home.

Where’s on your travel wishlist?
I have just returned from the IMM Cologne design show and Paris. Over the next few months, I have some trips planned in Europe to meet the craftspeople we work with and visit factories. I am also keen to build on our success in the Far East and will be travelling to China and Japan towards the middle of the year and then Australia. 

What’s your social media of choice?
Design is inherently a visual industry so Instagram and Twitter lend themselves really well as platforms where we can tell stories through images and also seek inspiration and keep in touch with wider industry trends. Follow us on @madeinratio and @brodieneill.
madeinratio.com   brodieneill.com