Whatever you want

‘What have you always wanted in your home but never been able to find?’ The question, by Sir Terence Conran to 10 of his designer friends, prompted ‘The Wish List’ – sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council and bespoke craft workshop Benchmark. The great and the good sent their requests back, to be teamed up with 10 young designers who, after an initial design period, had a week at Benchmark’s Berkshire workshop to come up with a solution. The seductive objects of desire they created are on display at the V&A museum throughout the London Design Festival and until 24 October.

Richard and Ab Rogers. The architect father and son asked designer Xenia Moseley to create a ladder that would allow them ‘to explore the hidden corners of a room.’ Moseley created one in red oak that not only helps the pair discover them, but lets them linger up there once they have.
Norman Foster. Lord Foster, architect of the Millennium Bridge, asked Japanese designer Norie Matsumoto to design him a pencil sharpener and receptacle for shavings. The result, in tulipwood, raises the prosaic to the poetic via the platonic.
Amanda Levete. With a 4.8m long dining table, Levete likes dinner parties and commissioned young Win Assakul to design her an invertible fruit bowl/ cheese board that everyone at the table could reach. Assakul's design, formed of six pieces of walnut, can extend according to the number of diners.
Allen Jones. British artist Allen Jones worked with RCA graduate Lola Lely to design a chaise longue based on a mischievous horse sculpture commissioned for Peggy Guggenheim’s Venice gallery, featuring a removable appendage. The wood used here is both hard and soft maple.
Zaha Hadid. Hadid, used to working with the most cutting-edge materials, asked designer Gareth Neal to see if modern techniques could be applied to the craft of tableware. Neal took the firm’s advanced modelling techniques and used them to create these dramatic white oak ‘Ves-el’s.
Alex de Rijke. The dRMM architect of the ‘Endless stair’ for last year’s LDF charged designers Barnby and Day to create for him a hollow laminate tulipwood table, manufactured to appear solid while actually being extremely light.
Paul Smith. It’s not often that world-famous engineer Arup is called on to design a shed, but with her client being Paul Smith, designer Nathalie de Leval realised that their skills would be needed to enable hers, here shown in thermally modified ash, to be best shown off.
Alison Brooks. Brooks noted that the most used chair in her house was the stool in the kitchen – something that she put down to the fact that it offers temporary respite without the long-term commitment to sit. Felix de Pass’ response in cherry merges beauty with simplicity.
Terence Conran. Sir Terence commissioned sustainable designer Sebastian Cox to create a workspace where he could get some peace and concentrate. Fashioned in red oak and cherry, Cox created a St Jerome-like space that can hinge open or seal shut.
John Pawson. It was a back to basics approach for Studio Areti’s Gwendolyn and Guillane Kirschbaumer. John Pawson was keen to investigate the everyday objects we come into contact with, well, every day: the shelves, hooks, door handles. Theirs is a quotidian celebration in white oak and walnut.

Jan-Carlos Kucharek


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