Known as The Wish List, this initiative challenges some of the country’s brightest up-and-coming designers to create compelling designs from American hardwoods.The 10 pieces will then be exhibited at the V&A during the 2014 London Design Festival (13th-21st September).
As part of the sponsorship, Lathams has supplied a consignment of white oak, walnut, tulipwood and cherry to the designers who have been mentored during this project by illustrious names in architecture and design including Paul Smith, Norman Foster, Amanda Levete, John Pawson, Alison Brooks, Zaha Hadid, Alex de Rijke, Richard and Ab Rogers, and Allen Jones.
Terence Conran, co-founder of Benchmark where all the designs are being produced, instigated the project when he wrote to his friends and asked, “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?”
Under the mentorship of these ‘greats’, the emerging designers recently spent a week making the desired items for The Wish List at Benchmark’s Berkshire workshop.
Such an open brief guaranteed an extraordinary spread of design – the challenge being to produce each project in a single material, American hardwood – in celebration of the versatility of timber and the enormous variety that can be achieved with one material.
Furthermore, the diversity of products demonstrates Benchmark’s depth of understanding of wood and skilled craftsmanship.
Chris Sutton, MD of James Latham, comments: “This is an excellent initiative and one which we are delighted to support.The wealth of design talent in this country is incredible and when it is given a platform such as this, plus the backing of such great names in architecture and design, as well as AHEC and Benchmark, it has all the ingredients to be a big success and we are really excited to be involved.”
During the making week, Sebastian Cox designed a workspace for Terence Conran, Norie Matsumoto created the perfect pencil sharpener for Norman Foster whilst Win Assakul designed an extendable fruit or cheese bowl for Amanda Levete.
The sisters that form Studio Areti have produced three items for John Pawson, a triangle shelf, slanted door and a hook. Felix de Pass designed kitchen stools for Alison Brooks whilst Gareth Neal tackled tableware for Zaha Hadid. Fashion icon Paul Smith has asked Nathalie de Leval for a garden shed, whilst Barnby & Day set to the task of producing a dining table for Alex de Rijke. Richard Rogers with Ab Rogers requested a ladder from Xenia Moseley and Lola Lely made a chaise-longue for Allen Jones.
During the manufacturing process, the teams recorded all material inputs and energy consumption, allowing them to assess the environmental impact for each object.