Friday Five with Young & Battaglia

The Anglo-Italian design duo Brendan Young and Vanessa Battaglia first hit the design scene in 2003 and eventually became known as Young & Battaglia. In 2011, they founded the British interiors brand Mineheart (we’ve featured them a few times before) and continue to create noteworthy designs for various brands like John Lewis and Next home. Exhibiting their work in cities like Tokyo, New York, Paris, and Milan, this pair’s wallpaper, lighting, and furniture are easily becoming iconic, and no doubt, they are ones to watch. In this week’s Friday Five, the team bands together to share what keeps them inspired.

1. More than objects or products, we find people, history, and culture most interesting and inspiring. We admire the dedication and time needed for one to master a skill. The great artist Michelangelo once said “If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius.” Michelangelo is inspiring because not only were his paintings so iconic, but he was also a sculptor and an architect. We love the facial expressions of the characters and the reams of flowing cloth in his paintings… for someone who apparently had quite a low opinion of painting compared to other arts he still became one of the greatest painters that ever lived. He said “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

2. We both love this picture in particular by photographer Tim Walker. The feeling is magical, a dreamlike, fairytale world, the beauty of an old tree, the lights hovering like fireflies in the dark, the glamour of the ballroom dresses. His work is so inspiring and poetic, each picture is like a theatre set and tells a story.

3. Every culture has its quirks and beauty, but one culture we are both especially drawn to is that of Japan. It’s so very different from the UK or Italy, and is an extremely intriguing and inspiring place, especially the simplicity and refinement of certain things including their food, art, and design. There is something special about eating sushi and miso for breakfast, the colors and patterns in their art and fabric, paper screen walls, zen gardens, haiku poetry, wabi-sabi ceramics, samurai swords, and bonsai trees, it really captured our hearts and minds.

4. Is it strange that we find something incredibly beautiful and poetic about run down grandiose buildings and old faded materials? Something about the sense of history, time, and life having passed by with many stories to tell. It reminds us that everything must come to an end, slightly sad but very inspiring none the less. The picture above is by the Dutch photographer Niki Feijen who also seems to share or passion for abandoned buildings.

5. Heroes are inspiring whether fictional or in real life, the idea of embracing the hero in all of us… being brave and proudly fighting for what you believe in. Even though comic art is rarely considered high art by the art world, we also can’t help respecting the amazing skill of many comic artists including Jack Kirby and Frank Frazetta.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.