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Q&A: Jay Osgerby

We recently met up with designer and architect Jay Osgerby at the Fine Brandy and Design event where he talked about the process for designing the iconic London 2012 Olympic Torch and their innovative Tip Ton chair. Here he shares with HL what we can expect from BarberOsgerby in the future. What do you think will be the major trends in design for 2014? People are fascinated by learning more about an object; understanding the provenance and history of the thing. Along with this is an increasing interest in craft; perhaps there is a natural reaction to the high tech world that surrounds us and a new found appreciation for tangible, beautifully handmade objects. Which trends inspire you both personally and professionally? I am not a follower of trends; I’m interested in collecting objects, junk really. I am a flea market junkie, and when I travel I always find the markets and second hand shops. You can discover a lot about a culture by what it produces and also by what it discards. If you could describe BarberOsgerby in three words, what would they be? Simple, innovative and soulful. Which of your interior or industrial design projects have been most enjoyable to work on, and why? We really enjoyed working on the Olympic Torch for the London 2012 Games, as well as the Tip Ton chair with Vitra because of the challenges and constraints we had to overcome. Many of our projects are challenging - the Olympic torch was incredibly difficult as we had to make something that was reliable, beautiful and indisputable. But also the Tip Ton Chair for Vitra was really challenging - we made well over 100 prototypes to get the design right. We always enjoy and are proud of our projects and they are the result of a great deal of hard work. There is an evolution in our work. Each time we design we try to approach the project with a fresh view, to some extent to imagine that it is the first time that we have approached such a problem or question. Over time, one is exposed to so many external influences from places we visit, to research that we do - in the end these influences filter through into our design conversations and inform the evolution of our work. What was it like to be chosen to design the iconic Olympic torch? It was a real honour to be chosen for the commission. The torch is the iconic symbol of the Games and will pass on as its legacy. To represent your country in this way is one of those incredible things you only have the chance to do once in a lifetime. It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to design an object that is so recognisable and so symbolic. Do you have any exciting projects lined up for next year that you can share? There are lots of new things launching in Milan 2014 for companies like Vitra, Flos and Mutina Tiles. We also are working on a massive new gallery at London’s science museum due to open next year. In addition we have a show at London’s design museum starting at the end of January 2014. Interviewed by Astrid Sanders *Enter our exclusive online competition and you could win five premium brandies worth R3 500.