Despite designs tremendous capacity to uplift, inspire and spark joy, has been dwarfed by bigger events this year. But that’s no cause for despondency. A quick look into the crystal ball to ascertain what 2018 holds in this most creative and thoughtful of disciplines shows a flurry of glitter and gutsy innovation as a single word comes swimming clearly into view: talent. Where there’s really no room for more-of-the-same, the time is right for the real show stoppers to shine. So here's our top five designers to watch out for this year:
Following her fabulous Fendi-commissioned "Welcome" installation at Design Miami, Chiara Andreatti is fast becoming one of the most sought-after names in interior design. She wowed fair-goers with a gorgeous four metre-long sofa upholstered in the same pattern as Fendi's iconic 1970s shopper, Japanese-inspired pendant lights, a Himalayan wool carpet and a wooden throne and footstool that pay homage to the Viennese secession style. Bringing a fresh relevance to the Italian design sensibility, the Veneto-born, Milan-based Andreatti blends countrified luxury and rarefied elegance with a cultivated exoticism that speaks nostalgically of a golden age of decadence.
Clay artist Phoebe Cummings was already lined up for great things in 2018, with a major commission and installation by the "thoughtful clothing company" Toast underway and set to be revealed in the spring. But then she was named the winner of the inaugural £10,000 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize at the V&A too, and suddenly her impending moment is even more momentous.
The Staffordshire-based Cummings is a genuine original, whose intricate and mesmerising work combines studio ceramics featuring only raw clay with performance art. Her staggering site-specific pieces are as poetic as they are beautiful, inspired by the natural world and changing subtly over time as they gradually disintegrate, challenging expectations of what craft is.
Tom Raffield was named as one of the Brands of Tomorrow in the Walpole British Luxury awards last month, cementing the furniture designer’s growing reputation for creating the "antiques of the future". Specialising in steam-bent wood, Raffield has recently found himself compared increasingly to precociously talented Kinsale-based furniture designer Joseph Walsh, proving that the appetite for heirloom-worthy wooden lighting and furniture is happily on the rise.
All handcrafted in a woodland workshop in Cornwall, and finished with the care and attention of a fine piece of art, Raffield’s bespoke designs animate both domestic settings and commercial commissions, and 2018 will mark the company’s ten-year anniversary.
Our crystal ball is clearly Swarovski branded, as our final talent to watch next year is one of the giant crystal company’s own chosen three. Taiwan born, LA based Jimenez Lai has been tipped as a Swarovski Designer of the Future, and displayed his first response to the honour at Design Miami/ Basel last June in the form of "Terrazzo Palazzo".
Upcycling Swarovski’s "second quality" crystal into a colourful and glittering terrazzo tile, manufactured in Italy with the help of Brent Dzekciorius from Dzek, Lai created an immersive architectural environment.
Another designer celebrating a 10th anniversary in 2018, Lai originally established his studio, Bureau Spectacular, in 2008 after a nomadic career working with architects REX and OMA, and a stint with Atelier Van Lieshout in Rotterdam.
A clear standout during this year’s London Design Festival, the London-based, Central St Martins-graduate, Fernando Laposse, is a Mexican designer on a mission. Following in the footsteps of so many of today’s design greats (see the Campana brothers, Ron Arad and Tom Dixon for just a few examples) Laposse is making his name by transforming materials which are cheap, readily available, and often waste or perishable matter, into fine furniture and luxury items.
Most recently, Laposse won the jury prize at the Future Food Design Awards after receiving over 5,000 votes for his project Totomoxtle, which uses native varieties of Mexican corn husks to make a veneer that can be used in architecture and furniture design. The growing use of GMO corn has been devastating for local farmers in Mexico who rely on the crop not only for food but to make a living. Totomoxtle allows them a new income stream and form of employment.