Levete describes her choices as "Something old, something gold, a piece of nature, something by me, and a potato peeler." For the London Design Festival, her practice AL_A, will be creating Timber Wave, a sculptural spiral of oil-treated American red oak for the V&A's Grand Entrance.
Roman glass bottle
Victoria and Albert Museum
I spend a lot of time at the V&A these days, so have chosen a piece from its collection. Roman glassware has a simplicity that is a lesson to us all. This small bottle is both sublime and practical — the way light falls on the iridescent surface gives it a magical quality and you can sense the hand that made it. Objects like these were affordable then to people of modest means. Even now, you can buy a piece of Roman history for relatively little.
credit © Victoria And Albert Museum
Japanese cherry blossom
In Kew Gardens there are many extraordinary trees, but this Japanese cherry blossom is a perfect essay in poise and balance. It's nature at its best: poetic and with a cantilever that is near impossible to achieve, but is what we constantly strive for.
Established & Sons
The black marble table I designed for Established & Sons is one of my favourite pieces. CNC-cut from a single slab then worked by hand, it fuses the digital with the handmade, a recurring preoccupation in our work. The material is pushed to its structural limits and because of the associations of marble, the form speaks of antiquity as well as modernity.
Designed by a Swiss soldier more than 60 years ago, this potato peeler is a completely reductive piece of engineering, not a single extraneous detail and beautiful because of that. It's cheap – more than 60 million have been sold – and it makes peeling potatoes, a task I loathe, almost pleasurable.
credit REX Zena Peeler
G Lorenzi in Milan has been going since 1929, a family business selling sharp instruments from around the world. These grape scissors cut at an angle so as not to damage the stem — a very satisfying action. I love the contrast of
a piece of design for a very particular purpose with the slightly baroque, gold-plated finish, embossed with grapes.