ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Feature -

Gray’s grace­ful aes­thetic and use of hand-carved mar­ble have given a tra­di­tional piece a mod­ern twist

There is al­ways a story – and spe­cial­ist craft – be­hind Bethan Gray’s work, whether she’s de­sign­ing an om­bré maple cabi­net us­ing mar­quetry tech­niques in­spired by the Nizwa Fort in Oman, or the ‘True Thin­line Studs’ watch for Rado, made to look like wood catch­ing the light. When she was asked by Edi­tions Mi­lano to marry the skill of Ital­ian mak­ers with a Bri­tish tra­di­tion, a mar­ble tea set that cel­e­brates the age-old rit­ual of drink­ing tea seemed like a good choice. ‘I hadn’t de­signed any­thing like it at the time,’ says Gray, who is pleased to be win­ning an ELLE Dec­o­ra­tion Bri­tish De­sign Award, ‘so I did re­search in the V&A’S ceram­ics archive’. Hence the tea set – which en­com­passes a teapot, milk jug, su­gar bowl, cake stand, dessert plate, teacup and saucer – is called ‘ Vic­to­ria’ in a nod to the mu­seum’s name. ‘I’ve al­ways had a love of mar­ble, and when I saw the work of the mas­ter crafts­peo­ple in Tus­cany, I was wowed. I’m al­ways blown away by what some­one can make by hand with such a hard ma­te­rial.’ Each piece of the set has been hand carved from arabescato mar­ble and fea­tures a re­lief so fine as to be al­most translu­cent – the col­lec­tion now also in­cludes light­ing de­signs. Fur­ni­ture col­lab­o­ra­tions in new ma­te­ri­als will be re­vealed next year – some­thing Gray is ex­cited about. ‘I like the process of work­ing with peo­ple who are ex­perts at what they do and de­vel­op­ing an idea – that’s what’s in­ter­est­ing.’ bethangray.com; edi­tion­s­mi­lano.com

De­signed for both in­doors and out, this de­sign duo’s smart mod­u­lar fur­ni­ture is ef­fort­lessly adapt­able

When Ed­ward Bar­ber (above left) and Jay Osgerby were think­ing about de­sign­ing their sec­ond col­lec­tion for Ger­man lux­ury out­door fur­ni­ture brand Dedon, one of the key con­sid­er­a­tions was how the fur­ni­ture could be used in mod­ern homes. ‘In so many trop­i­cal coun­tries, peo­ple have in­door spa­ces and out­door spa­ces – plus that un­de­fined area in be­tween,’ says Bar­ber. ‘We wanted some­thing that could be used in all three. It had to be el­e­gant, so it looks good in­doors, and also light­weight so that peo­ple can carry it ef­fort­lessly out­side.’ Both were achieved in ‘Brea’, a mod­u­lar lounge sys­tem made from a metal tubu­lar frame and ac­ces­sorised with cush­ions that slide over the back and side rests, al­low­ing them to be eas­ily re­moved. ‘There is no Vel­cro, no ties – the idea is that the cush­ions can be taken off in a mat­ter of sec­onds.’ Over the years, the dis­ci­pline-span­ning Bar­ber & Osgerby have de­signed ev­ery­thing from the Lon­don 2012 Olympic torch to the ‘Tab’ lamp for Flos and ar­chi­tec­tural so­fas and lounge chairs for Knoll. More re­cently, they have launched a new of­fice sys­tem for Vi­tra, which, if it catches peo­ple’s imag­i­na­tion, could rev­o­lu­tionise the work­place. ‘In­stead of tra­di­tional chairs and desks, the fu­ture of the of­fice is based on a sofa. It’s an uphol­stered mod­u­lar sys­tem at chair height, which we’ve been work­ing on for a num­ber of years,’ con­cludes Bar­ber. bar­beros­gerby.com; dedon.de

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