Designers

Barber and Osgerby: The Future of Design

Barber Osgerby portrait copyright Linda Brownlee

That designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby are not afraid to speak their mind is clear from their recent interview with Dezeen, the online magazine on design, in which they criticized the British government for its decision to enforce cuts to art school funding. They warned that the city of London was under the threat of losing its "world-famous creative scene."

What the interview also brought into sharp focus was the designers' immense concern for the future of creativity and the future of London as the global center of design and architecture industries – a future they have worked very hard to be a part of.

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The London-based designers own two of the most prolific design studios in the country. While Barber & Osgerby, established in 1996, is a multidisciplinary design studio focused on furniture, lighting and product designs as well as full-scale architecture projects; the Universal Design Studio is a purely architecture and interior design studio.

In addition to the two design studios, Barber and Osgerby also founded an industrial design consultancy focused on a design strategy called MAP. All three of their ventures are based in London, hence the designer duo’s concern over the recent events.

The two designers met while they were studying for their Master's degree in Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London and set up their studio soon after graduating. Their first furniture piece, the Loop Table, was showcased at the London Design Fair in 1997 and caught the attention of Italian designer Giulio Cappellini. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Over the years, Barber and Osgerby have worked on a variety of projects to create a wide range of products including furniture, lighting, household objects, drink bottles, electronics, and even restaurants and shops. Their clients include top design firms not just from Europe, but from as far out as Asia, North America, and South America.

For FLOS, they have designed the Tab series, consisting of a table and floor lamp that "is a simple folded form, creating a visually pure shade that translates into a desk, and floor lamp".

Some of their remarkable works include the London 2012 Olympic Torch, which was named the Design Museum's 2012 Design of the Year, the sculptural cantilevered Tobi Ishi table for B&B Italia and the Western Façade bench to commemorate 10 years of the London Design Festival.

Their designs are creating waves and they have been appointed Officers of the Order of British Empire for their service to the design industry, but at heart, they are really simple Londoners. While Osgerby loves to cycle to work in the morning, Barber admits to feeling "terrible" if he misses his morning swim.

They admit that the best ideas come to them from being away and opening their minds. Their advice to young designers – keep working hard, don't study too long, and get as much experience as possible.