10 Radical Designers At Collectible Fair 2023 Who Think Outside The Box For A Better Future

The Collectible fair marks an annual display of forward-thinking makers – the Curated section being the platform for emerging and mid-career studios where groundbreaking experimentation in terms of materiality, technique, and aesthetic opens a glimpse into the future of design. For this year’s 6th rendition, Paris-based artist and designer Leo Orta curated this stage for radical experimentation – the curatorial statement being “What is your story?”. By encouraging the participants to imagine, or rather reimagine, the role of design in a world defined by a dooming climate and economic crisis, the final show was marked by a radical and powerful display of collective creativity and an emphasis on sustainability.

We have selected 10 independent designers and studios whose work demonstrates a new wave of design solutions for a sustainable future.

Studio Basse Stittgen, “Tree of Culture”

Situated in the intersection of design, art, and material research, the German studio by Basse Stittgen found their impetus in the story of lignin, one of the most abundant organic polymers; however, mostly a byproduct of burning thermal water. To eliminate this negative waste and ultimately find a purpose for lignin, the studio created “Tree of Culture”. Taking the beginning of the story of lignin – a tree – as inspiration, this lamp shelf is supposed to evoke feelings of appreciation and mindfulness for nature and unexplored materials. Its rough texture is reminiscent of the year rings of a tree trunk. In conjunction with the lamp’s natural, organic shape, it tells the story of lignin through an artistic yet functional design object.

Coline Le Quenven, “Reliques of the Plasticene”

Drawing inspiration from Roman and Victorian ornaments, Coline Le Quenven offers her audience a critical reinterpretation of plastic waste. After her discovery of plastiglomerates, a new type of rock that forms through plastic debris melting onto natural materials, Quenven began her journey of transforming local plastic waste into delicate, decorative elements – the “Reliques of the Plasticene” collection. Pieces, such as her “Just Bone” mirror, represent an almost literal reflection of contemporary society utilising digitalised animal bones and repurposing a car mirror. A bronze casting of the “Three Graces” by French sculptor Germain Pilon influenced the collection’s jug, and the usage of digital technologies in the production provides a juxtaposition between the past and present – the common threat throughout Quenven’s oeuvre.

Maria Tsilogianni, “Idiotic agent #1”

Stepping into the universe of Greek designer Maria Tsilogianni resembles entering a portal to a whimsical, slightly surrealist dimension, where every object is animate and interactive. This fascinating spectacle of technical skill and creative genius is exemplified in her “Idiotic Agent” series. The creation process behind these one-of-a-kind artefacts consists of an unexpected collaboration between artisans and selected workers from large-scale production who expressed excitement to work on Tsilogianni’s projects, comprising their profits. Each “Idiotic Agent” with its language incomprehensible to humans is a product made from recycled plastic and local marble – speaking for design that beyond its functionality, questions our understanding of “intelligence” and the “human machine”.

Sangmin Oh, “Knitted Light”, Debut at Collectible Fair

When observing the objects that make up Sangmin Oh’s series “Knitted Light”, its shapes and colours remind one of the once great coral reefs – a species endangered due to anthropogenic climate change. Playing with light and shapes by mixing textile materials through knitting, the Netherlands-based designer showcases the mystical and ethereal beauty of glowing coral reefs. And just like the reefs, the knitted objects lose their colour depending on the lighting. This is made possible by monofilament, a recyclable fishing line, which has a reflective property, and the support of the TextielMuseum in the Netherlands.

Gemma Barr, “Gemiverse III”

Through an unexpected mix of materials and manipulating geometric shapes, the Scottish designer Gemma Barr visualises her ideas about alien materials, giving them an artistic spin. Her collection “Gemiverse” utilizes materials ranging from self-grown crystal to steel and resin – often recycled – in an effort to experiment with shapes, forms, and colours. The final products, evident in the “Gemiverse III” table, reference geological transformations, given Barr’s reference to geometric nets. These nets are often found as diagrams of space theory and in her pieces, they are translated to a metal structure on which the objects are built and grown.

EDXXKAT, “Alien.2”

In a similar vein to Barr’s “Gemiverse”, the Italy-based studio EDXXKAT aims to explore unfamiliar, alien objects and beings in their “Alien.2” chair. The work is centred around the idea of playing with materiality and how a single material can transform a piece. By using wax and manipulating its different phases, EDXXKAT allows the object to go into metamorphosis. The edges of the pink chair become malleable and soft, thereby, turning a perfectly rigid object into a creature that lives in a liminal, alien space between rigidity and flexibility.

Henrik Ødegaard, “Untitled (chair)”

Expressive shapes and a sprinkle of fun meet in the “Untitled” chair of Norwegian designer and architect Henrik Ødegaard. Throughout his oeuvre, the artist mostly employs wood and explores its possibilities in terms of shape and form. Part of realizing these unexpected curves and composition of elements involves directly tracing his sketches onto the wood. With every project, his intention is also to create a sustainable workflow by saving leftovers to collect and assemble new pieces, such as the “Untitled” chair.

Christoph Wimmer-Ruelland, “Shaping residue”

What guides the Vienna-based designer Christoph Wimmer-Ruelland is taking familiar structures outside their context and re-evaluating their function, responding to contemporary needs and dominant influences. In “Shaping residue”, his target is industrial residue from the metal industry, as the name suggests. The complexity lies within the shaping process: to intervene in an existing structure and adapt it into a design object. As a result, Wimmer-Ruelland is proposing innovative ways to utilize and rethink industrial waste as a design material.

Dilara Kan Hon, “Ova Pink Cabinet”

The “Ova” collection by the Turkish designer Dilara Kan Hon, from Studio YellowDot, is a celebration of life through appreciating the vitality of nature. Bold colours and textural patterns are inspired by nature’s treasures. In the case of the “Ova” cabinet, Kan Hon found inspiration in the clusters of bright pink eggs by the apple snail. This unique reference is coupled with the designer’s rediscovery of her own culture during the pandemic. Each pink ball is handmade from a one-of-the-kind fabric called ‘Kutnu’, characteristic of the designer’s hometown Gaziantep, Turkey. Covered in this unique fabrication technique tracing back to the times of the Ottoman Empire, the “Ova” cabinet also reveals a secret compartment inside – a shelving system made from oak.

Ori Orisun Merhav, “Made by insects”

Material research and humans’ relationship with nature are at the heart of Ori Orisun Merhav’s practice. A recent graduate from the Design Academy Eindhoven, the designer is continuing her explorations from an ecological perspective with the aim to innovate for a better future. Her resulting pieces are often centred around the ideas of interactivity and sharing knowledge with the public. In “Made by insects”, she focuses on lac polymer and its potential for design. The shapes of each object are inspired by the cacoons formed by insects. Through the transparent covering of each object, Merhave is able to play with light. Placed together on the top of a table, these light elements create an intriguing almost mystical experience.

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