The Wish List: Social engagement and getting away from it all.

With day 2 of The Wish List Making Week down, many of the bigger decisions for each project had been made, under gone trial and tribulation and set on the right route. Day 3 was the opportunity for each team to put their heads down and really make progress.

Sean observed that each project was rather like ‘dogs and their owners’. As each project developed is was blatantly clear who belonged to whom. Their values shone through in concept, form, detail and their choice of wood.

Cherry was selected for Alison Brooks and Felix de Pass’s stool, one of her favourite woods. Alison loves its beautiful reddish brown colour, which turns dark red over time, and, the glimmer and sheen of the tight grain, a quality characteristic to fruit trees. It’s a wood she’s employed widely in one of her current projects – to design a `third quad´ for Exeter College at Oxford University. Alison can’t understand why more architects don’t use it.

Alison believes that people under estimate the value of the stools, and observes that they are inherently more social. Gathering around a kitchen island, you can perch, sit and move about freely. Other projects with social focus included Amanda Levete and Win Assakul’s ‘6×500’ long extendable and shallow bowl to work for dining tables of 18 or a smaller group of half that size; Alex de Rijke with Barnby & Day’s round dining table made from cross laminated tulipwood, a technique used in his architecture for structural strength and innovative use of materials; and John Pawson and Studio Areti’s door (one element of a small collection) that tapered at one side visually invites you to pass through it, as if just ajar.

Ab and Richard Rogers and Xenia Moseley’s project took another approach to being connected. Rogers noted that if you raise your eye line by 1 metre, you get a very different perspective of the world. Their ladder with integrated seat offers a place to repose and observe, a few steps removed.

Moving further to relish in your personal space, Paul Smith and Nathalie de Leval’s offers another home to fill for Sir Paul’s curiosities and collections. Based on the same size as his first Nottingham shop, it’s 10ft x 10ft, seemingly basic in form, yet without a truss and one whole side a wall of glass, is a feat of structural engineering. In addition, on a rotating base, you can simply step out, and push it around to face the sun, or another view at your pleasure. It’s literally a shed with a twist.

For a place to ‘get away from it all’, Terence Conran and Sebastian Cox’s workspace offers protection and a place to house a tight selection of Terence’s things that have inspired him over the years. A cocoon like structure, it has a built in desk, ample space for shelves and cubbyholes. With woven panels of red oak strip, which let light pass through, but also offer a visual separation, it is a place to call his own.

Passionate about sustainable design, marrying traditional techniques with modern practices and lightweight aesthetics, Sebastian’s mission is to convert the 9 million acres of neglected woodland in the UK into productive woodland. For Wish List, he uses red oak, which makes up 20%of American forest, yet is currently under-utilised. He believes that designers have a responsibility for changing mentalities and to become engaged with the making process with thorough understanding of materials.

Shortly, we will find out the results of Life Cycle Assessment from the week’s work. As the development of this tool gains pace and more data, LCA could in the future be integrated into design packages, showing directly how a design change could directly affect environmental impacts. Benchmark co-founder, Sean Sutcliffe, believes this could and should lead to a Life Cycle tax, as a deterrent to thoughtless manufacturing practices. He adds ‘We will learn as much as we teach this week.’

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Posted on: 7th July, 2014 By: Benchmark Category: Events & Exhibitions| The Wish List