THE BRIT READ BARBER & OSGERBY
We talk to the designers as new book ‘Barber Osgerby, Projects’ hits shelves and coffee tables
Why was now the time for a new book? ‘We wanted to see all of our pieces in one place, a definitive publication that catalogues our work from the beginning,’ says Osgerby. ’Most of our best work’s happened since our last book six years ago, and it’s approaching the 20th anniversary of our first product, so it was about time.’
Tell us about Barber Osgerby, Projects… ‘The front part of the book is very visual, and is punctuated by six essays in which we talk about our most significant projects, such as the Olympic torch, the “Tip Ton” chair for Vitra and our “In The Making” exhibition at the Design Museum,’ says Barber. ‘We realised that there are three themes that our work can be grouped into – Frameworks, which goes from the “Double Space” installation we did at the V& A to our “Piton” stool for Knoll; Volumes, which includes sculpted forms; and Folded Structures, which is a lot of our early work,’ adds Osgerby. ‘We weren’t aware of these categories, so it was funny when everything fell into them.’
Where do you find inspiration? ‘We try not to pay too much attention to contemporary design,’ says Barber. ‘We went to a vintage kitchen suppliers in LA recently and there were these contraptions that were made for juicing, grinding, and making mayonnaise. No design, just basic cast aluminium to do the job – that always looks better.’ What’s your favourite part of the design process? ‘When you have an idea,’ say the duo in unison. ‘You can spend days or even weeks on something and you know it’s not right, then suddenly one day you get it,’ adds Barber. ‘It’s like with the ”Tip Ton“chair, when we realised that we could have a rocking chair but with two bits instead of the curve. The best moment is when you realise you’ve got it.’ Is there a standout moment from your career so far? ‘We did an installation at the Eames house in Los Angeles, on the lawn and inside in the Eames’s actual old studio,’ says Barber. ‘As a designer, Charles and Ray Eames and their whole world is incredibly important, and the fact that we were invited to do that installation there… you look back and think, ”Wow, that was actually really good“.’
What’s next for Barber & Osgerby? ‘Loads of new things,’ says Osgerby. ‘The ”Bellhop“lighting range we unveiled at Milan with Flos is ready to go on sale in the new year, and we’re doing more work with Galerie Kreo [a Parisian gallery that displays and sells limited edition contemporary designs]. We must have 30 projects on the go.’ ‘The list is at 58,’ corrects Barber.
Above Cover of new book Barber Osgerby, Projects
Right Inside the design duo’s busy studio in Shoreditch, east London ‘Barber Osgerby, Projects’ is on sale 4 September (Phaidon, £59.95)