Touch, reflection and strength. How do our objects help combat isolation in a pandemic world? How can we foster a sense of touch in an increasingly virtual world?
The designers are invited to think freely about their experience of isolation, and to create a piece that represents the functional and emotional connections to our everyday objects. They will also consider the materials’ tactility as a key component of the creative and production processes. Design entrepreneurs Tomoko Azumi, Nathan Yong, Maria Jeglinska and Adam Markowitz will be on hand to mentor the designers throughout the process. Support will also be given by the advisory panel consisting of Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas, AHEC’s European Director David Venables and AHEC’s Regional Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania, Rod Wiles.
Sarah Douglas is Editor-in-Chief at Wallpaper*. She is responsible for the brand’s print magazine, digital platforms, in-house creative agency, interior design service, as well as partnerships and events. During her 13 years at the magazine, she has commissioned a wealth of illustrious artists and designers, including Jean Nouvel, Tom Sachs, Konstantin Grcic, Yayoi Kusama, Elmgreen & Dragset, Wim Crouwel, Thomas Heatherwick, Jenny Holzer and Hussein Chalayan. She has championed next generation talents, such as Bethan Laura Wood, Philippe Malouin, Paul Cocksedge and Craig Green, and created partnerships and collaborations with many prestigious brands. Douglas regularly judges for international design competitions, including the London Design Medal and D&AD.
Since 2000, David Venables has been the European Director for the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). Under his direction, AHEC has become one of the most creative and effective wood promoters in Europe, collaborating with some of the world's top designers and architects on innovative projects. He has also been behind the American hardwood industry’s unique and innovative global environmental strategy, and pioneering work into structural use of hardwood. David holds BSc in Timber Technology and more than thirty years’ experience in the international marketing of hardwood.
Roderick Wiles started to work for the European Director in the AHEC London office in 1999. Now based in Dubai, UAE, he directs AHEC's programmes in Africa, the Middle East, India and Oceania – territories in which he oversaw AHEC’s original expansion. Over the years, Roderick has built up a wealth of knowledge on the global market for wood products and has developed a specialist skill in the international promotion of hardwood products.
Japanese designer Tomoko Azumi is a director of TNA Design Studio, a London-based furniture, product, exhibition and retail interior design consultancy. She graduated with an MA Furniture Design from Royal College of Art in 1995, co-founding design partnership AZUMI, and then opening her solo studio in 2005. Recent works include furniture for the UK Supreme Court as well as pieces for ercol, Röthlisberger and Zilio A&C. She has been teaching design since 2000 at Glasgow School of Art, Royal College of Art, Middlesex University of Art and London Metropolitan University, Vitra Design Museum summer workshops, IUAV and Liechtenstein University.
Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska established her Office for Design & Research in 2012. The Polish designer graduated from ECAL’s industrial design course in 2007 and went on to work for Galerie Kreo in Paris, Konstantin Grcic in Munich and Alexander Taylor in London. She works on a wide range of commissions: industrial design projects, exhibition design, as well as research-based design projects. Her work is inspired by the idea that in today’s world, research can trigger and generate new forms of answers and offers.
Melbourne-based Adam Markowitz is an award-winning designer and maker of furniture & lighting, as well as a practising architect. He has trained in Tasmania and Denmark, and at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, USA. Since 2015 he has operated his independent design studio, markowitzdesign, delivering residential architectural projects, small batch production furniture and custom commissions. Adam has been co-teaching the ExLab experimental making program for the last four years at the University of Melbourne, and is the current Vice President of the Victorian Woodworkers Association.
Nathan Yong graduated from Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic in 1991, with a diploma in Industrial Design. He began his career working as a buyer as well as engaging in product development for various companies in Singapore. Now running his industrial design consultancy practice, he has collaborated with international furniture companies such as Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, Living Divani and Ligne Roset among others. He has twice won the Red Dot Concept Design Award, and was also nominated Designer of the Year at the prestigious Singapore President’s Design Award in 2008.
Berkshire, United Kingdom
A powerhouse of craft, Benchmark is one of the UK's leading furniture-makers. Founded by Terence Conran and Sean Sutcliffe in 1984, the company has a mission to create furniture that contributes to human health and well-being, using natural, sustainable and non-toxic materials. With workshops in Berkshire and Dorset, Benchmark works with many of the world's leading architects and designers on commercial and residential projects. From forest to finished piece, Benchmark is positioned as a leader in sustainable enterprise. Their approach marries forward-thinking design with exemplary levels of craftsmanship and creativity, producing furniture that exudes natural warmth and soul.
Wewood - Portuguese Joinery is a Portuguese brand founded in 2010, as a result of the Research and Development Office of Móveis Carlos Alfredo. The family-owned company has specialised in manufacturing solid wood furniture since 1964. Wewood’s heritage is grounded in more than five decades of production, hand making or hand finishing all of their pieces, away from standardized, large scale production.
Founded in 1969, Fowseng prides itself in thinking differently about manufacturing fine furniture. Underpinned by a culture of open-mindedness and tenacity, they have become renowned for their attention to detail and create furniture for brands including Liberty of London, Ligne Roset and Heals. They focus on taking well-conceived designs and developing them into well-made products. Working only with American timber and employing the latest technology, combined with an understanding of the tools and skills of the traditional craftsman, they produce furniture pieces that made to last, both physically and aesthetically.
With three generations of woodturning and joinery experience under their belt, as well as a workshop employing high-tech machinery, Evostyle has the knowledge, experience and capabilities for a range of projects. The maker of choice for many of Australia’s high end furniture brands, including Cult, they are committed to the environment and use sustainable American Hardwoods in their work. They also believe in preserving craftsmanship in Australia, and are developing training programs to ensure high-end production skills are handed down to future generations.