Twenty next-generation designers from 16 countries presented exciting new objects made of wood at the Design Museum London this week. Created for Discovered, a collaborative platform between Wallpaper Magazine and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the exhibition highlights works created as a reflection of how lockdowns and isolation affected each designer’s life and creative process.
‘Emerging designers from across the globe have experienced personal and professional challenges during the pandemic, and the 20 young practitioners have produced a collective display that is inspiring and which shows the resilience and ingenuity of creative design,’ comments Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of the Design Museum.
That loose brief translates to strikingly different functional and decorative objects made of American red oak, cherry, and hard and soft maple. The artists worked in collaboration with specialist workshops to explore the sustainability of these underused yet widely available wood types, which grow abundantly in American hardwood forests.
Take, for instance, “Lahmu” by Swedish signer Sizar Alexis. “Having lived through the Iraq war in the 1980s, Alexis imagined his home as a bunker, protecting his family and newborn son during the pandemic. Drawing from the similarities between his own childhood experience and his young son’s, his sculptural pieces are defined by stark monolithic forms and stillness, representing the emotional connection to his thoughts in the pandemic. The chunky volumes serve as side tables or stools, and together as a bench or low sideboard, inspired by bunker architecture. Alexis chose two contrasting woods: one half of his piece is in American cherry, for its warmth, and one half is in red oak, its surface burned with a scorching technique.”
Mac Collins of Newcastle, UK used cherry wood for his piece, “Concur.” His work takes a more positive view of the isolation he experienced during the pandemic. “For me, the word has always carried romanticised connotations of contentment, serenity, contemplation and a sense of withdrawal from the rigmarole of socially prescribed routine,” he says. Books took on a new significance for Collins during his time alone, so his piece reflects a desire for comfortable reflection and reading.
Pascal Hien’s striking “Migo 01” pieces made of red oak are multifunctional stools you can sit on in multiple configurations. “You can adapt it in various ways, there is no front or back, no right or wrong.” Each one is made of a single plank of red oak with parts held together by dovetails.
Check out the rest of the exhibition at Wallpaper, or see it in person at Design Museum in London through October 10.