Designers of the future 05.09.13

Written by 

Icon-123-future-designers-1 copy copy

The W Hotels Designers of the Future award hails its recipients – this year, Bethan Laura Wood, Seung-Yong Song, and Jon Stam – as the new wave of talent defining the future of design. A professional jury assesses each designer on their ability to engage with innovative processes and a sensibility for the cultural context in which they create.

This year, the programme evolved to offer the three winners a residency abroad, the aim of which was to immerse the designers in other communities so they could create design work inspired by those cultures. The three projects, created for W Hotels undergoing construction or renovation, were recently shown at Design Miami/Basel.

Wood, the London-based designer whose psychedelic, hyper-patterned aesthetic is an extension of her idiosyncratic style, went to Mexico. Here, she engaged with local traditions of pattern, colour and texture, finally producing a series of lighting made from brightly coloured glass, designed to drive guests in Mexico City's W Hotel to use the stairs. "I really love creating work through residencies, to get totally immersed in a different culture or area I find super inspiring," Wood says. "I definitely feel like there is a lot more for me to draw from the residency for future works."

Icon 123 Future designers 2

Stam travelled to Verbier, a small Swiss village renowned for skiing, which is also home to many seasonal travellers and expats. "Hearing these people talk about the village of Verbier and what it means to them – the yearly visit as a ritual or the planting of new roots – became more powerful than my own direct experience," the Dutch designer says. In response, he designed Claude Glass, a black mirror framing a digital image of the Verbier landscape that changes each minute, showing the changing conditions through the four seasons. Spin the mirror clockwise and the images speed up, travelling increasingly faster through the days and seasons; spin the object in reverse and the sequence plays backwards.

"Having anyone take the time to really dig into your work, and recognise and respect your approach is an honour," Stam says. "Having this international professional jury do so is something I still cannot put into words."


Korean designer Yong visited Bangkok, where he was fascinated and inspired by the vibrant streets of the Thai capital, particularly the street vendors' carts. "The streets of Bangkok have their own character," Yong says. "The street carts were stores to sell different goods [and] they transformed into mini bars, restaurants, and ice-cream parlours. People shopped, cooked and ate there on the street. They have become Bangkok's symbolic image to me." Drawing on this image, Yong created a contemporary interpretation of the carts, designed to be used in interior spaces. Each cart in the collection has its own form, but the components are interchangeable, allowing the objects to perform a variety of functions.

Speaking to the three designers, it is clear that the W Hotels Designers of the Future award has selected emerging practices that are set on an intriguing course. Stam says: "I like the title of the award so much because I know that my best work is yet to come."



Sergio del Amo



Mandi Keighran

quotes story

Having anyone take the time to really dig into your work, and recognise and respect your approach is an honour. Having this international professional jury do so is something I still cannot put into words

Leave a comment

Click to show