More and more designers are flashing hyphenate designations as badges of their ability to move through various creative fields. Arik Levy easily comes to mind with his outdoor sculpture pieces that double as indoor furniture. Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, and many more have made solid contributions in the functional sphere of furniture design without losing one bit of their stature as artists.
If the game was previously played according to the rules of specialization, today it is hinged on one’s ability to perform and deliver in diverse capacities and on multiple platforms.
At major design expositions, artists have been presenting solutions for everyday design challenges; the same can be observed in art shows where designers have shown works that explore materials to articulate new thoughts. Changrai Ferrari by Thai designer Anon Pairot, a detailed life-size model of a sports car woven in rattan, was a crowd-drawer at a recently concluded major art fair.
The practice is far from new—from Da Vinci to Salvador Dali to Charles and Ray Eames, creatives have never put labels on their talents. No one measures Alexander Calder’s output by his mobiles alone, when his furniture pieces are also part of his artistry. And although Fortuny is best remembered for his fabrics, people eagerly collect his artworks.
The border that separates art and design is not coming down anytime soon—or for that matter the one that comes between science and art. But one thing that looks set to last is the constant criss-crossing of disciplines.
Here is Maison&Objet Asia’s line-up for top cross-pollinators in the time to come.
What: Design Collective
Who: Kelly, Ketty & Alex
Stoked by: Cultures, east and west chemistry, childhood dream of being archaeologists
MO: Bring more classic and traditional objects into modern day life via beautiful and poetic solutions, discover new soul in old living objects
The creative balance of form and function is always present in every KIMU-designed product, but their completion is found in its everyday use.
What: Embroidery design studio based in Bangkok
Backstory: Launched in 2014 but built on family’s embroidery business with 30 years’ experience
MO: Combine industrial embroidery, art, and craftsmanship to create new experiences through experimental design
By seeking to integrate and express emotional attachment into their products, ease recreates ordinary yet meaningful objects that reflect everyday life. Their focus on function is always in tandem with a commitment to the art of storytelling. Ease applies traditional embroidery techniques to a myriad objects outside apparel.
True Calling: Trans-cultural designer
Background: Principal and creative director at Estudio Ruiz Design Consultancy
MO: Explore commonplace and familiar to bring about new meaning and interpretation; extensive background in craft design and production
Cred: Exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC). Sold at Habitat, Takashimaya, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, among other boutiques and galleries worldwide
Blips: Named one of Avant Guardians of 2010 by New York-based Surface Magazine. Bronze Award, A’ Design Awards (Italy, 2013). Outstanding Asia Talent, Bangkok International Gift Fair (Thailand, 2014).
Using his expertise as industrial designer, Ruiz easily moves across barriers to create products for different categories.
Origin: Shing – Singapore/UK;Josh – Chicago
What: Singapore-based multi-disciplinary and architecture design practice
Who: Ong Ker-Shing, director; Joshua Comaroff, design consultant
Backstory: Met 20 years ago at Harvard GSD, working and writing together since. Following birth of their two children, developed an interest in designing preschools, kindergartens, playgrounds, as well as events and cultural spaces for younger audiences
Recent Projects: Buildings and landscape with a focus in residential and educational projects
Believe in: Design as key factor in enhancing the development of creative and analytical thought from an early age
Recently Published: Horror In Architecture (ORO Editions), a tongue-in-cheek survey of perverse and dream-like buildings
For his doctorate thesis Comaroff wrote about haunted landscapes and urban memory in Singapore. Wheelwright Fellow Shing, meanwhile, moved to Shanghai to research the Art Deco housing of the French Concession. www.lekker.sg
LAB DE STU
Founded by Dale Hardiman, Andre Hnatojko, and Adam Lynch in 2011, the three-member LAB DE STU works on various projects and platforms across Australia. The award-winning design collective is behind representing and commissioning body 1-OK CLUB, furniture and everyday object manufacturer Dowel Jones, and A OFFICIAL, a contemporary computer-free manufacturing house and design brand. Although formed as a vehicle for the designers to promote their individual works and practices, LAB DE STU has metamorphosed a collective and uniform banner.
Hardiman exploration of the localisation of production is manifested in his chosen materials and overall practice. Lynch focuses on the simplification of objects down to their bare essentials; Hnatojko connects business with design, attempting to cross-contaminate different design industry models to experiment with the perceived value of furniture and lighting. www.labdestu.com.au
Origin: Kanagawa, Japan
MO: Explore the art and design aspects of lighting
Route: Apparel Design, Bunka Fashion College, joined Issey Miyake Inc., planner/designer at HaaT, established lighting brand Chihiro Tanaka
Exhibited: At nearly all major trade expositions including 100% Design, Salone del Mobile Milano, ICFF, New York International Gift Fair, Ambiente
Cred: BankART Artist in Residence 2015 at BankART Studio NYK, Yokohama
Although highly functional, Tanaka’s light installations cross over to art exhibitions. Another image of one his works acts the opener for this story. www.chihirotanaka.jp
Text by Marc Almagro
This story was originally published in Form magazine, Singapore