With over 20 countries represented at WantedDesign this year, the event has solidified its standing as a forum for creating dialogue among varied design communities. Exploring the interplay between history and craft, a series of focused national pavilions examined the contemporary status of design in their respective countries. Yet there was no nostalgia in sight. The selected designers mined history and tradition to speak about the present and explore new uses for time-tested techniques and ideas. The end result was a framing of design as a tool for shaping the world through objects that are borne of a specific context and time, but are always evolving. Below are some of the projects that define this innovative regional approach.
Designo Patagonia's Big Bang Baby Hanging Lamp is made up of Honesty plant (Lunnaria annual) seed-heads. Recognized for their translucent silver membranes, here they aggregate to create a diffuse light source. The design studio is committed to highlighting Patagonia's history and rich environment by using the region's material palette throughout their work.
Mexico Design Week
A theme throughout the Territorio Creativo booth, showing at WantedDesign for the second year, was catalyzing Mexican tradition through design. Ad Hoc's Antelmo tables each feature a leg that is carved like a molinillo, a traditional Mexican chocolate whisk. Paul Roco's Greta lighting series rethinks Mexican design with a political lean: the forms are meant to reflect the fragmentation of a hand grenade the instant after it explodes.
Interiors From Spain
Inspired by the complexity of sea life and netting structures, Mayice's asymmetric Ray Table features a hidden storage compartment underneath its' smooth top. The table is made up of three different materials, each crafted by three different artisans: ash wood by a cabinet maker, stainless steel by a blacksmith and cotton by a dressmaker. Mayice has been successfully experimenting with an unprecedented design material: melted gummy bears used as paint. To elevate this technique, the studio teamed up with Spain's oldest glass-making factory, Real Fa´brica de San Ildefonso de La Granja, to create a series of decorative objects that can be placed on the table or hung on a wall. The curved surfaces create evocative color effects that belie their humble beginnings.
Irish Design 2015
Textile designer Claire Anne O'Brien draws from a rich tradition in Ireland, where knitting is a central activity. Using pure wool from the Shetland Islands, the Olann Collection takes patterns and structures found in regional knitted sweaters and willow baskets and explores contemporary interpretations through a play on scale.
Norway — Calm, Cool and Collected
The Brooklyn-based Norwegian duo comprising design studio Everything Elevated employ passivation, a chemical technique using a light coat of a protective material, such as metal oxide, to create a barrier against corrosion. This gives their minimal, steel constructions a subtle patina and a chromatic palette that is unique to each individual piece. StokkeAustad's totemic Ash Bowls are carved out of a single piece of ash wood, their ultra-thin edges contrasting with the solid base on which they rest.
Tokyo Design Week
The show investigated the mixed sources of creativity that form Tokyo's design landscape. Among the whimsically serious pieces on display was Noriko Hashida's Pages Chair which is essentially conceived as a book: the neoprene-like fabric cushions can be turned over like pages to reveal different colors. Additionally, the backrest can be removed, allowing the user to swap out different color palettes. The Step-Up chair, designed by Masuo Fujimura, combines a chair with a stepladder to create a whimsical, multi-functional object that can be used for changing lights, hanging clothes and even as a stately dining chair.