News

10/06/2020

Connected: 9 designers, 3 hardwoods, 1 workshop

The onset of Covid-19 has significantly changed the way people live, interact and work. In the design world, creatives and makers have had to adapt their processes using new technologies to work together at a distance and often operating from new, improvised home offices.

Connected is an experiment set out to explore how designers and craftsmen adapt their working practices during lockdown. For this project the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Benchmark Furniture and the Design Museum have challenged nine international designers to create a table and seating, which will suit their new ways of working from and living at home. They will also record their creative journeys to allow us to witness how they approach the brief and develop their thoughts, sketches and ideas during these challenging times.

The designers involved in Connected are: Ini Archibong (Switzerland), Maria Bruun (Denmark), Jaime Hayon (Spain), Heatherwick Studio (UK), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska (Poland), Sabine Marcelis (Netherlands), Studiopepe (Italy) and Studio Swine (UK / Japan).

The resulting pieces will be shown at the Design Museum, in London, as an installation called Connected, when the museum re-opens to the public, celebrating the act of physically coming back together – reconnecting – after lockdown.

Connected will also explore how designers can champion a beautiful and sustainable material: hardwood. The project will challenge both the designers and craftsmen at Benchmark to work in innovative ways by relying solely on digital communication and video conferencing to bring the designers’ visions to life. This approach will require a new level of trust in the makers, since the designers will have no physical contact with their pieces until they are finished and on display at the Design Museum.  

Each designer will be paired with a craftsman at Benchmark’s workshop in Berkshire, with whom they will develop their pieces. Benchmark will collate all the production data for each design to enable AHEC to model its environmental life cycle impact (LCA). The designers will record the design process and product development throughout the summer, producing a series of video diaries to be shared on the project website (www.connectedbydesign.online) and social media, using the project hashtag (#connectedbydesign). These diaries will also feed into a documentary-style film that will narrate their individual journeys.

Once complete, the pieces will be displayed in the atrium of the Design Museum this autumn and will feature both virtual and actual content as a way to celebrate these new designs and mark an end to the isolation caused by the virus.