Graduates 2012 03.10.12

  • 14 of the UK's most promising student designers

  • Ingrid Hulskamp Central Saint Martins: Daily Poetry

  • Lisa Marie Bengtsson: Bye Bye Laundry

  • Adam Turnbull: Chair (Barbican series)

  • Craig Foster: Kurk

  • Richard Burrow: Foldable Sewing Machine

  • Alexander Mueller: reX Table

  • JJ (Jung Hyun): Albero

  • Kim Thome: Reflection Range

  • Matthew Cox: Self Initiated Project

  • Lola Lely: Potluck Restaurant

  • Jinsun Yoo: Sound Baffle Seat

  • George Braham: Orlo Writing Desk

  • Tom Brittain: Separable Utility Bike

  • Anton Alvarez: The Thread Wrapping Machine

A former hydraulic power station in Wapping, east London was the setting for the 2012 graduate review – Icon’s annual selection of promising design graduates from schools around the UK. The 14 projects were innovative studies in a range of practical and social issues; including a fictitious restaurant, a folding sewing machine, odour-absorbing clothes hangers and a new process for making furniture by wrapping wood with threads.

Now home to the Wapping Project arts centre, run by director Jules Wright, the Victorian power station is still filled with the heavy-duty pumps and machinery of its heyday. Until 1977 the station supplied power by steam and then electricity to parts of south London via the Tower Subway, a tunnel under the Thames that was built in 1869 originally to shuttle passengers underground between the riverbanks.

This month, the Wapping Project is bringing the city a glimpse into the working process of Kris Ruhs – the US artist best known for creating the eclectic Milan design hub 10 Corso Como with publisher Carlo Sozzani. Ruhs, described as a “magpie-maker”, likes to work with discarded materials for his products and spaces. He will occupy the Wapping Project’s Boiler House until 14 October.

This year’s graduates:

Tom Brittain
Jinsun Yoo
Kim Thome
Adam Turnbull
Craig Foster
JJ (Jung Hyun) Lee
Alexander Mueller
Ingrid Hulskamp
George Braham
Lisa Marie Bengtsson
Anton Alvarez
Lola Lely
Richard Burrow
Matthew Cox

Craig Foster
Nottingham Trent
University, BA Furniture
and Product Design
Kurk
Finding that there are more than 30 parts in a standard desk lamp, Craig Foster’s aim was to design a less excessive, intuitive task light that users can repair easily themselves. “Every part of Kurk can be taken apart, recycled and reused,” he says. “And it comes flatpack so you get used to how it goes together.” The lamp’s bulky cork shade and base are contrasted with slender metal uprights and the whole product is assembled without glue or screws. Foster won the New Designer of the Year award at this year’s New Designers event in London.

JJ (Jung Hyun) Lee
Central Saint Martins, BA Product Design
Albero
British department store John Lewis set the brief for this year’s cohort of product design students at Central Saint Martins in London. The challenge was to make a set of dining furniture suitable for the small home. “These days the dining area is disappearing, people are eating in front of the TV instead of at the table,” says JJ Lee, whose solution was to make dining furniture more useful by combining it with storage. Aimed at the young family, Lee’s table, bench and stool all open up to reveal interior storage, reflecting the fact that dining tables aren’t just places for eating.

Adam Turnbull
London Metropolitan University, FdA
Furniture Making
Chair (Barbican series)
Adam Turnbull set his own brief to examine how laminated wood can lend itself to traditional joining techniques. The chair from his Barbican series – he says that brutalist architecture inspires his designs – has a back made in two parts that are bent around solid wood. They are then connected with a mortice and tenon joint and dowel. Simplicity being the essence of his design rationale, Turnbull says: “I’m a designer with a small ‘d’. Once the ergonomics are sorted out, I’m essentially a craftsman – making a fine piece that is beautiful to look at and comfortable to sit on.” A coffee table and stool will complete the series.

Lisa Marie Bengtsson
Kingston University, BA Furniture
and Product Design
Bye Bye Laundry
“It looks like a hanger, but it’s more like a home for half-dirty clothes.” Lisa Marie Bengtsson’s design finds a place for the clothes we have worn once but are not yet ready to wash, saving water by diverting us from putting them straight in the machine. Each hanger has a chamber of ultra-porous activated charcoal – through a filter in the base, the charcoal absorbs odours and helps keep clothes fresh. “I wanted it to be an ornamental object too,” Bengtsson says. “Something you can hang in your room
and show rather than hide away.”

Matthew Cox
Bucks New University,
BA Furniture
Contemporary Design
Self Initiated Project
A jumble of blue elastic cords forms the seat and back of Matthew Cox’s chair – the young designer says that although people have been hesitant to try it out, they have been intrigued by its playful structure. The welded metal frame is powder-coated in yellow with 15.5m of cord wound in between. “Elastic complements your movement and makes for a really comfortable seat. It invites you to interact with it and enjoy it,” Cox says. “Rather than focusing on something that’s only good to look at, I’ve made something to play with and use more.” Cox is now considering making the chair in a child’s version.

Alexander Mueller
London Metropolitan University, FdA
Furniture Making
reX Table
The starting point for Alexander Mueller’s reX table was the Mobius strip – the continuous mathematical shape that MC Escher’s ants marched around in his 1963 woodcut. Mueller says: “The idea was to create a dynamic table. To create movement but with straight lines.” The table’s angular legs and underside support are made to look like one continuous strip of dark wood, topped with a lighter plane of soft ash. At the moment, reX is a dining table but Mueller says there is scope for versions that could work in boardrooms or receptions too.

Richard Burrow
Plymouth University,
BA 3D Design
Foldable Sewing Machine
A short primer project on repair sparked the idea for Richard Burrow’s folding sewing machine. The lightweight design (currently a prototype) folds flat into a shape about the size of an A4 page and encourages people to mend their clothes rather than throw them away. Burrow, who says he is inspired by the less-is-more philosophy of designers
Dieter Rams and Sam Hecht, reduced the sewing machine to its necessary elements and functions with just three types of stitch. “I made lots of test models in cheap plastic to see what the minimum surface area could be,” he says. “And then designed it to be assembled in as few moves as possible.”

Jinsun Yoo
London Metropolitan University,
BA Furniture and Product Design
Sound Baffle Seat
Sound Baffle Seat is Jinsun Yoo’s take on the traditional Windsor chair. Her design stretches the chair’s dimensions to those of a loveseat and gives it a fitted grey fabric back to “make a quiet intimate space inside”. The fabric is recycled PET felt that weaves between the wooden spindles of the chair back and its orange hood is a small homage to the high-back armchair – pulling it up increases the feeling of comfort and security inside. Yoo is working on an outdoor version of the chair, with a waterproof fabric in place of felt.

Tom Brittain
Nottingham Trent University, BSc Product Design
Separable Utility Bike
For most, the Brompton bike is as good as it gets in terms of a compact foldable bike for easy commuting. But Tom Brittain’s product goes one step further; a demountable bike that can fit easily into a bespoke backpack. He says: “The majority of models just fold in half – a quick solution to halve the volume of the bicycle but still quite a bulky object to lift and carry.” Brittain’s bike comes apart into pieces that can be arranged flat in the backpack, “in a way that suits your centre of gravity and can be carried comfortably”. He is currently working to get the design registered before taking it to market.

Kim Thome
Royal College of Art, MA Design Products
Reflection Range
“They live in that realm between art and design,” says Kim Thome about the three unique furniture pieces that make up his project, Reflection Range. “They are undefined objects, and that’s what I like about them.” The table is a stack of two tinted glass planes and three blocks painted with neon shapes. Peering down through the glass creates a mirage of coloured shapes through reflection and transparency that constantly change with the position of the observer. “I use two-way mirror and dark grey glass,” Thome says. “And they made it really interesting to work with overlaying colours … it’s almost like live blending.”

Anton Alvarez
Royal College of Art, MA Design Products
The Thread Wrapping Machine
Anton Alvarez didn’t set out to create a furniture product in his final year, but a whole new craft process. Looking at new methods of joining material, he developed the Thread Wrapping Machine, a tool for binding solid elements with thread at high speed. “It’s an external way of joining that is decorative at the same time,” Alvarez says. “One of the benefits is that you can join different materials in the same way … plastic, wood, metal, anything.” The machine spins glue-coated thread in opposite directions around the objects to be joined and is controlled with a foot pedal.

Lola Lely
Royal College of Art,
MA Design Products
Potluck Restaurant
Lola Lely created Potluck Restaurant as a way to get city-dwellers to interact with each other more. “London can be quite a lonely place if you’re on your own,” she says. “So I came up with a fictitious restaurant for community dining.” Diners sit on portable stools around a centrepiece
of stacking pots that contain surprise courses. Each place has a different spoon suited to a certain dish – encouraging the diners to share utensils in order to get their piece of the meal. “There’s an element of interaction, conversation and a slight bit of confusion too,” says Lely. “And all that makes for a convivial experience.”

George Braham
Leeds Metropolitan University,
BA Product Design
Orlo Writing Desk
George Braham set out to modernise the old-fashioned bureau with his project for a writing desk. As mobile technology means we spend less and less time at our desks, Braham’s aim was to tempt us back to the bureau for better focus and concentration. “The frame is the main point of it really,” he says. “It’s in your peripheral vision but having it there subconsciously anchors you into the space.” The top is solid ash and the frame is trimmed with brass. A strip of LED lights in the top of the frame illuminates the work surface.

 

Image’s

Peter Guenzel

 

Words

Riya Patel

 

 

quotes story

The Victorian power station is still filled with the heavy-duty pumps and machinery of its heyday

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