Designer Profile: Barber & Osgerby
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby began their careers fresh on the heels of graduation from a Master’s Program in Architecture at London’s Royal College of art. And what a beginning it was: their initial foray into design produced none other than the Loop Table. Originally conceived of as the accompaniment for low seating at a London restaurant, Loop was ushered into production by Isokon+ then commissioned into the Cappellini collection at the Milan furniture fair. Soon after, its lightweight precision bentwood construction and architectural aesthetic drew worldwide acclaim. It’s now part of the permanent exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Also early on and for Isokon+, the Portsmouth Bench is another bit of bentwood engineering that is more subtle yet every bit as compelling as Loop. Commissioned for the 12th Century Portsmouth Cathedral, the Bench achieves the desired aesthetic of quietude and reverence, yet is also unmistakably contemporary. Although made of solid Oak, Portsmouth is very light, enabling easy relocation.
Like Portsmouth, the Tip Ton Chair responds to a pressing need too, this time for dynamic student seating. Originally developed for the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturers and the Tipton Academy, Tip Ton achieved the missive of an ergonomic chair that was financially feasible for schools. Just so, Tip Ton is light and stackable with no moving parts. Its functionality resides in the clever counterbalance feature that lets users tip forward with the slightest weight shift. B&O added the touch of vibrant colors, making it aesthetically versatile and appropriate for venues beyond the hallowed halls of secondary education.
In addition to furniture, Barber & Osgerby have designed lighting for numerous luminaries, including Ozeki, Louis Vuitton, and Flos. The latest for the latter is Bellhop, a portable table lamp with a silhouette like a helpful baggage handler, yes, but it also resembles a whimsical mushroom, like fauna from Alice in Wonderland.
Soft Work contributes to the dialogue about the open office. This soft seating solution responds to a palpable need while blurring the lines between home and work. Vitra characterizes it as an evolution of the desk: “a system where the workstation is focused around a seating landscape… this development combines expertise from home, office and public sectors and offers a versatile platform for both individuals and teams.”
On & On is BarberOsgerby’s first collaboration with Emeco. This is a worthy addition to the company’s iconic seating line, joining the classic Navy as a shining example of a portable, sustainable, stackable, go-anywhere, do-anything chair. On & On is made of 70% recyclable PET, with 20% glass fiber for added strength and 10% non-toxic pigment. The chair’s name speaks to the product’s penchant for re-incarnation—since it’s eco–friendly, it’s easy to recycle and return as new product.
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby are known for their forward-thinking and solution-minded approach. They’ve used their background in architecture to design furniture and products utilizing innovative materials and pared-down forms, collaborating with renowned manufacturers including Vitra, Flos, Cappellini, Magis, B&B Italia, and Isokon+. Their work is in the V&A Museum, The Met, London’s Design Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. See BarberOsgerby to find out more.
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