Possibly the most exciting, and certainly the most immediate installation at the London Design Festival was X3 at Super Brands London, by London-based branding and graphic design studio Creative Research and Development.
They built a glass-walled workshop, equipped it with tools and materials and then challenged three furniture designers to each create a chair in just six hours.
X1 was Sam Weller, who finished his chair just in time, putting the final wax on in the last few minutes.
Sam has studied typography, industrial design and most recently product design at the RCA under Sebastian Wrong. His work has been exhibited all over Europe and he now runs his own studio in London.
X2 was Alex Hellum. Alex even had time to add a lick of red paint to his chair and said: “I sat in my chair at four minutes past 7 PM and it didn’t break! It was a really good feeling and a great experience pushing my ‘bodging’ skills to the limit.”
Originally from Norway, Alex also studied at the RCA and has has designed for Heals, Thorsten Van Elten and Ercol. The most experienced of the three, his approach to design is based on: “observation, utility and honest use of materials.”
X3 was Jack Smith. Another RCA graduate, Jack studied his undergraduate degree at Sheffield Hallem where he met Gemma Matthias, who he now runs his studio SmithMatthias with.
Perhaps inevitably, the chairs share an aesthetic, driven by the identical brief, tools and materials each designer had to work with – but perhaps also driven by shared experience. What’s interesting though is how different they are, bearing all those things in mind.
The chairs are now being auctioned on eBay to raise money for a charity called UK Youth which helps young people to access “non-formal learning opportunities” including woodwork, carpentry and other hands-on design skills.