We talk to the de­sign­ers as new book ‘Barber Osgerby, Projects’ hits shelves and cof­fee ta­bles

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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)

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