The Pencil According to the Maverick Olympic Torch Makers
“The pencil is the ultimate tool for the transfer of ideas from mind to paper,” says Edward Barber, one half of the acclaimed design duo Barber Osgerby. The creators of the fêted 2012 Olympic Torch and founders of Universal Design Studio—the design and architecture practice behind the newly-opened Ace Hotel in London—continue our On Design series by lauding the humble pencil. “With the pencil, you’re never 100% committed to what you’re drawing,” explains Osgerby of today's functional subject. “You can change it, erase it, color in with it.” Known for their roguish designs such as the Tip Ton chair for Vitra, the pair met at London’s Royal College of Art in 1996 and set up their eponymous design studio. They have since been commissioned by furniture-makers Flos and B&B Italia and fashion houses Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton, and were asked to design the chairs for Oxford’s Bodleian Library expansion, only the third chair to be commissioned for the institution since 1602.
The Blow Torch According to the Venerated London Designer
“I first picked one up when I needed to repair a vintage motorcycle,” explains Tom Dixon of his virgin encounter with a blow torch, in the second installment of our On Design series that invites designers to ruminate on an item of particular significance to them. “That’s when I discovered I loved welding as much as I loved motorbikes.” The one-time nightclub impresario and self-taught fabricator’s first industrial design experiments were with pieces of discarded scrap metal that he found as a student, before London’s Victoria and Albert Museum purchased his S Chair for their permanent collection in 1992, with the Museum of Modern Art in New York following suit soon after. Dixon has worked with modern design pioneers Artek, and has fostered an eponymous brand renowned for creating metal light fixtures, which have become emblems of modern British design. “Design as a term is thrown about so casually,” says Dixon, “but in the end all designers have one common goal, which is trying to improve the way we live.”
The Danish Architect Provokes BIG Questions During the Venice Biennale Architectura 2012
Young starchitect Bjarke Ingels talks manifestation, midwifery and shamanism while riding down the Venice canals in this short by Kelly Loudenberg. Known for his impressive architectural endeavors like a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy power plant in Copenhagen that will be outfitted with an outdoor ski slope for use during Nordic winters, and the 8 House apartment complex just outside the Danish capital that allows residents to bike all the way up to their top floor apartments, Ingels is a vocal advocate for “hedonistic sustainability” and was recently profiled in The New Yorker. “Find a job you love and you won’t have to work another day in your life again,” advises the young creative. “If you let your desire guide you, if you take decisions with your heart and with a smile on your face, they are probably wiser decisions in the long run.” In Venice as a contributor to the Danish pavilion exploring future visions of Greenland, Ingels together with his firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) proposed Air + Port, a mixed-use air and sea hub on the island of Angisunnguaq. Now based in New York, Ingels is currently working on his first American project, a residential building in Hell’s Kitchen called W57 that will occupy an entire block and add a distinct, sloped pyramid-shaped silhouette to the Manhattan skyline. Here the dynamic Dane considers alternate career paths, architectural envy, and kittens.
Your firm is called BIG—list a few things that always are better big?
Ideas, checks, balloons, brown eyes.
And a few that should always be small?
Carbon footprint, energy bills––well, any bill––kittens. Sometimes the most interesting is when you can combine both. Just ask Biggie Smalls.
Biking up a building to reach your apartment; skiing down a trash processing plant...what sporting activity is next to be included in one of your designs?
We started construction on a 588-meter-tall tower in Tianjin, China, that would be pretty amazing for base-jumping in a squirrel suit.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been?
Biggest source of architectural envy (i.e. monument you wish you’d built)?
The Sydney Opera House by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.
We hear you've got a thing for fast cars. If you designed your own car, what would it feature?
A Tesla with four seats and a convertible roof would be a pretty sweet deal—and automated driving when the traffic is too dense and static for human enjoyment.
Favorite music to work to?
The Knife, Giana Factory, The William Blakes.
Best place for a late-night bite after leaving the office?
[Arty TriBeCa barroom] Smith and Mills, NYC.
You’re adding a building to the New York skyline at the age of 38. What's one thing you want to do before you're 40?
Well, we just broke ground, and with a little luck I’ll actually finish it!
Three things the city of tomorrow should prioritize?
Biodiversity, cultural diversity and architectural diversity.