Nine international designers have been challenged to create a table and seating, which will suit their new ways of working from and living at home, and they will be recording their creative journeys to give us an insight into their approach during these challenging times.
Each designer will be paired with a craftsman at Benchmark‘s workshop in Berkshire, relying solely on digital communication and video conferencing to develop their pieces and bring their visions to life.
“It is pertinent at this moment to explore new ways of working remotely – and of creating at a distance. It’s by no means the first time we’ve developed furniture using digital communication tools, but this will be the first time we’ve developed pieces in a purely digital environment, without visits to our workshops from designers. I’m interested to see what the lockdown period has made designers think about in terms of product development. How does working from home influence the furniture in our home, and its functional requirements?”
— Sean Sutcliffe, founder of Benchmark Furniture
The individual pieces, designed to suit each designer’s home living and working situation, will come together in the Design Museum, London, when it re-opens to the public, celebrating the act of coming back together – reconnecting – after lockdown.
The message of sustainability is at the core of the project and will explore how the designers can champion a beautiful and sustainable material: hardwood. The designers will be using a mix of three underused species- red oak, maple and cherry - which combined account for more than 40% of all standing hardwoods in the American forests.
The American hardwood forests are not planted resource, so what exists in the forest is there because nature intended it. Over-reliance on a narrow selection of wood types ultimately results in supply stress on the forest so in order to design sustainably there is a responsibility to use all of what nature provides and not just those species that are in fashion.
For over 30 years the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has been at the forefront of wood promotion in Europe, successfully building a distinctive and creative brand for U.S. hardwoods. AHEC’s support for creative design projects such as Legacy, The Smile and MultiPly, for the London Design Festival demonstrate the performance potential of these sustainable materials and provide valuable inspiration.
A powerhouse of craft, Benchmark are one of the UK's leading furniture-makers. Founded by Terence Conran and Sean Sutcliffe in 1984, the company has a mission to create furniture that contributes to human health and well-being, using natural, sustainable and non-toxic materials. With workshops in Berkshire and Dorset, Benchmark works with many of the world's leading architects and designers on commercial and residential projects.
The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary architecture and design. Its work encompasses all elements of design, including fashion, product and graphic design. Since it opened its doors in 1989 the museum has displayed everything from an AK-47 to high heels designed by Christian Louboutin. It has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over five million visitors and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams.