Cultured Magazine

Winter 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 197 of 363

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby are engines of creativity. While the East London-based team may be best known for designing the 2012 Olympic torch, this year alone they have also produced a seating system for Knoll, vitrines for Glas Italia and tableware for Royal Doulton. A recently released monograph entitled, "One By One," caps a 19- year period during which their studio has consistently left an imprint on the worlds of architecture, objects and interiors. Adding to their list of awards, this fall the duo won the prestigious London Design Medal at the London Design Festival. During the Festival they launched a collection of lanterns constructed according to an age-old Japanese method of applying mulberry bark paper to bamboo frames. "We're interested in everything Japanese," says Barber, as he acknowledges a fascination that has lasted for a quarter of a century. "From design to culture and especially gardens." In 2012 their interest in the smooth, round ornamental stones found in traditional Japanese gardens inspired them to conceptualize Tobi-Ishi a dining table for B&B Italia. In the original version, a circular surface with a cement finish cantilevers off of two monolithic plinths that stand at a right angle to each other. The sculptural concept is deceptively simple and complex at the same time. "Depending where you're standing, it plays tricks on the eye and changes your perception," Barber explains, "It hides the leg beyond it." The piece proved to be such a successful exercise in proportion and equilibrium that it subsequently spawned several iterations. It is now available in black or white marble as well as several lacquered finishes and colors including red candy and smoke blue. The collection also contains a rectangular version with tapered edges as well as an oak coffee table Tobi-Ishi offers a jolt to the B&B lineup, and to the mainstream perception that Japanese design can only be interpreted in a stereotypically vernacular way. It also encapsulates Barber & Osgerby's overall vision—that heritage and innovation, technology and handicraft are not at all opposed. As Barber recalls, "When we came up with this idea, we felt it would be impossible. Would it even stand?" 196 CULTURED Talking Tobi-Ishi Samantha Tse catches up with Barber & Osgerby to revisit one of the studio's most iconic works for B&B Italia. B&B Italia's Tobi-Ishi table designed by Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber. COURTESY OF B&B ITALIA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cultured Magazine - Winter 2015