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)

AMANDA LEVETE

Acclaimed UK architect Amanda Levete – head of AL_A studio, and formerly of Future Systems – has created this year's MPavilion for Melbourne. A futuristic take on a forest canopy, the temporary pavilion forms a welcoming glade for all-comers, hosting a programme of 300 spring/summer events. Inspired by 2015's theme 'Architecture of Wellbeing', it's the second in a series of four pavilions bringing cutting-edge architecture to the city, a dreamy space for a sun-kissed season. 

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What inspired your MPavilion?
One of the things about the Melbourne climate is ‘four seasons in one day’, and we responded to that with our MPavilion. For me the very nature of a pavilion is that of a bandstand. I took this literally, forgetting all about walls and designing something that creates a magical quality of life. We wanted to create a sensation of a tree canopy and play with sunlight, wind and rain. We used the canopy to filter out the harshest summer sun and aimed to add the noise of wind as it passes through.

How do you hope people will use and enjoy it?
Rooting the pavilion in its parkland setting, I want to create the sensation of a forest canopy in the heart of the city that gives shelter to a programme of events. Wouldn’t it be lovely if, as dusk is falling, there are kids lounging on beanbags while an actor reads them a bedtime story? Then they'll be taken home, falling asleep, in their buggies. That sort of communal storytelling is very powerful. It’s a slightly dreamy experience.

What can temporary pavilions bring to a city, and to an architect?
The brief for MPavilion 2015 is a great opportunity to design a structure that responds to its climate and landscape. I’m interested in exploiting the temporary nature of the pavilion form to produce a design that speaks in response to the weather. What really drew me to the pavilion commission is the opportunity to do things that you could never do with a building.

What were the material or technical challenges involved?
I wanted to use a material that is translucent, incredibly lightweight and seemingly very fragile. The construction industry is a fairly slow-moving beast, but Australia has some of the finest boat builders in the world. We worked with a yacht fabricator to employ their boundary-pushing technology, to create something that looks fragile but is actually really strong. The 43 translucent resin petals are reinforced with carbon fibre strands that span up to five metres and are only three millimetres thick. Supported on slender, four-metre-high carbon fibre columns, the structure is designed to sway in the wind, with lighting and a soundscape that activates at sunset.

What are your next projects?
There’s a new Southampton centre I’m creating for UK cancer care charity Maggie’s and our expansion of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, is due to open in 2017. The Exhibition Road Building (above) will have a new entrance, a 1,500-square-metre gallery for temporary exhibitions and a courtyard all made out of porcelain.

What’s your design philosophy?
Architecture shouldn’t be about playing by the rules. It should be about challenging the brief you’re given, about breaking boundaries. Here is an artistic discipline that involves things like functionality, building codes and planning logistics; it combines everything I love. AL_A is more driven by conceptual thinking than formalism, so it’s less easy to identify an architectural style in what we do now. What binds all our projects together is a very rigorous, but intuitive, way of thinking.

Where do you get inspiration?
I love the fact that architecture is an artistic discipline with very real constraints. Size has never mattered to me. You could do something incredible in a piece of furniture. A temporary experience is almost more difficult than a permanent one. I’ve always functioned best when there’s something to push against. Whatever project I’m working on, I immerse myself in each new world. That might mean researching the culture or reading up on relevant literature. You come out of every project changed. You just learn so much.

What’s currently exciting you in design, architecture or style?
Australia is an exciting place for architecture because of the expansive landscape and what that allows for private houses. That genre has really exploded. I love the varying characteristics of different areas – for example in Melbourne, inner-north Fitzroy (first three images, above) as compared to St Kilda (above) with its proximity to the sea.

Which design era, building or interior has influenced you the most?
The Centre Pompidou in Paris (above, by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano) is one of my favourite buildings because conceptually it’s so groundbreaking. The Pompidou changed forever the way we look at museums by being fabulous and yet taking away the pomp. It also totally regenerated the area. Like the Sydney Opera House, it became a national icon recognised around the world. The value of it is incalculable. 
mpavilion.org

MPavilion is at Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, opposite NGV International, from 5 October 2015 to 7 February 2016. Entry is free with a café kiosk run by Three Thousand Thieves. For more on Amanda Levete's 25XDesign project check back with the Fizz this Wednesday 7 October.

Photo credits: Amanda Levete portrait copyright Peter Guenzel; MPavilion by John Gollings; V&A copyright AL_A; Sydney Opera House at Dawn courtesy of Sydney Opera House Trust; Centre Pompidou, Fitzroy and St Kilda by Sophie Davies.