JAY OSGERBY: We’ve both, from a young age, had a keen interest in making – in the 70s and 80s we watched children’s TV shows which encourage creativity and resourcefulness such as making objects out of discarded household objects – I’ve always had a respect for how objects are created. I undertook a year-long foundation course in art and design, then a degree in furniture and industrial design at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication.
EDWARD BARBER: After completing a design degree course at Leeds Polytechnic, I went on to study architecture at the Royal College of Art where Jay and I met. We both decided to venture into furniture but didn’t have the means to. We did have reels of white card which we’d been using for our architecture models so used this develop our ideas for early works – the material lent itself perfectly to laminated and sheet materials so you’ll notice a lot of our first projects are in laminated plywood or formed using aluminium steel.
EB: We don’t have a house style it is more of an approach; one that is stylistic and of brevity, we like to challenge the boundaries between things.
EB: We need to find an idea before we design anything – finding a new archetype or even using a new material can be a starting point. We like problem-solving and either work with the manufacturer to set a brief or set one ourselves.
JO: Everything we do has a different context. When designing, we think about who the fourth generation that has inherited the product might be, not necessarily the consumer.
EB: Good design is useful and long-lasting. We create new archetypes and modes of use for things which is the only way to justify the existence of new products.
sustainability and design
JO: We need to design better and buy better! It’s our job as designers to design something really carefully that won’t break and has minimum impact on the environment. As designers, we have to think about how we can design for a better world and we have our work cut out to only really produce stuff that actually needs to be made.
ethical responsibility for sustainable design
EB: Sustainability is critical to everything we do. It’s a driving force in the industry and those who don’t adapt will ultimately fail.
JO: We carefully consider the manufacturers we work with; each one is chosen for its particular expertise and the quality of its materials and craftsmanship, as well as for its commitment to experimentation and testing. As designers, we need to carefully consider the materials that we’re using and the carbon footprint involved in shipping the items.
recycling and “On & On”
EB: On & On is a chair collection that breaks new ground with a circular way of thinking. It combines longevity of design, durability and the use of recycled materials that can be recycled, hence the name, “On & On”.
JO: Creating more stuff using recycled material isn’t enough. The manufacturers that we work with now not only use recycled materials, but also insist that the products are recyclable and last for a very long time before they fail. We pride ourselves in making furniture that is of highquality and long-lasting; that will stand the test of time and hopefully knocks something out of production that isn’t all of those things. We also continue to work on lots of new projects with great clients.
JO: We work across so many different disciplines so everything we do has a different context and we like to bring many new references and inputs to a project. Our research is in the form of drawing, studying changes in modes of living and challenging the boundaries between things.
JO: We are continuing to develop “The Desk is Dead” concept with Vitra with new iterations to our Soft Work system. We’ve also launched our second collaboration with Hermès, the Hecate and Halo lamps. Inspired by the translucent quality of porcelain and the soft light that diffuses through it these lamps have an unexpected magic when turned on and the entire surface of the shade diffuses a beautiful soft glow.
a piece of advice
JO: The world is rapidly changing. As a designer, you have the privilege and great responsibility to create the solutions the world needs.