The eponymous founder and co-director of Sebastian Cox Ltd stands in the midst of his bustling furniture workshop, filled with people making everything from one-off commissions to a complete interior for a high-street retailer, looking up the stern portrait of William Morris that watches over the scene.
Designers and consumers alike have come to expect a lot of control over colour. We even plant flowers in our garden based on the colour we expect them to have. Still, we allow for much greater variation when it comes to plants than when it comes to, let’s say, a sofa; an item we want to be the same colour we saw at the store and to not fade or change over time.
We continue to look at the pioneering designers who are become increasingly interested in creating new organic materials, who are embracing the predictability of changing colour that comes with materials derived directly from our environment.
Forward-thinking designers across all disciplines are seeking to harness the power of nature’s super-efficient circular systems, as we start to realise that working with nature rather than against it provides the best hope for the planet and its inhabitants.
Uniformity is starting to seem weird and boring – and finally, some smart brands are listening...
Three decades years ago, the v-word was associated with anger, politics and extremist views. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift from naked, blood- spattered vegan activists preaching in the streets and shaming those who eat meat – or even one of their own who might dare to admit they love the smell of bacon – to a calmer, more tolerant and relatable cohort of vegans who share their weak moments and support one another through the transition from meat-eater to plant-based eater.
As efforts intensify to move us from our linear models of making and consumption towards more circular, connected and progressive ones, our relationship with the materials we surround ourselves with will change. How we view and design products, not as static objects but as dynamic and evolving systems, is key to this more sustainable future.
Positioned between the duality of her Swiss and Guinean heritage, photographer Namsa Leuba’s work envisions ‘the representation of African identity through the Western imagination.’
Consumers are increasingly buying into the heritage of products as much as the pieces themselves, but we may not always be seeing the whole picture. Moroccan artisan weavers’ collective Anou offers a fresh alternative to traditional cultural clichés – and a challenge to vested market interests.
Nipa Doshi is showing me one of the pages from her most recent sketchbook, where a painstakingly gouache-rendered reproduction of a Picasso painting from this summer’s Tate Modern show is surrounded by pages of handwritten notes. Doshi, co-founder of design studio Doshi Levien, explains that, rather than simply taking a photo, she uses this process as a more active way of learning about colour mixing and composition. This analogue way of working and analysing feels like a largely forgotten skill in today’s fast-paced, digitally dominated world.
We are all familiar with the notion that recycling and upcycling are not only a sustainable way forward but also celebrate the previous life of materials – transforming them into new objects and giving them a new life. And just as repurposing determines the new iterations of materials and products, it also influences their colour – sparking a different way of thinking about colour and incorporating it into design.
Identity is one of the strongest creative inspirations across all fields – in particular fashion, which is perhaps one of the most experimental and rebellious of all. As identity becomes more fluid and hybridised, its influence becomes ever more potent. Today we can layer multiple identities to produce endlessly varied combinations; mash-ups that draw on a limitless mix of nuances affected by the culture, geography and gender of others as well as ourselves.
Despite skin being our largest and most sensitive organ, with touch often referred to as the ‘mother of the senses’, sight has been regarded as our predominant sense since the ancient Greeks. ‘The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears,’ wrote Heraclitus; Plato thought vision was ‘humanity’s greatest gift’; while Aristotle claimed that sight ‘approximates the intellect most closely’.
As city living takes its toll on the mental wellbeing of young urbanites, and more people seek escape from their smartphones, a new wave of craft making experiences offers these consumers the ideal means of moderation.
With so many egregious offences against women coming to light across the film, art and publishing industries, one thing is for certain: women creators are no longer playing nice or staying quiet. In fact, they are rushing to fill the cultural vacuum left by their disgraced male predecessors with powerful work. More than ever, women are taking back their own images, stories and narratives in order to create impactful and nuanced work about women, by women. From top-grossing actresses publicly demanding equal pay to underground digital platforms that let women’s imaginations run wild, women are demanding to be heard and they are using the vehicles of art, design, film and media to do so.