5th episode of our weekly talk with Archiproducts Design Awards jury members

03/08/2020 – For this week’s episode we have questioned designer Kelly Wearstler, architect and designer Omer Arbel – also Bocci co-founder and creative director – and interior designer Robert McKinley – founder of the homonymous design studio with offices in Vancouver and Berlin. They shared with us their personal point of view of project culture and their expectations of this year’s nominees.

 

Kelly Wearstler: “I’ll be looking for designs that push the boundaries and foster an emotional connection.”

Eclectic and experiential, the style of award-winning American designer Kelly Wearstler is changing the face of contemporary American design. Through exploration of materials, colors and shapes, as well as a balanced juxtaposition of contemporary style and vintage echoes, Kelly Wearstler designs the interiors of luxury residences and international hotels, from Beverly Hills to the Caribbean. The homonymous brand stands for luxury furniture and lighting, but encompasses also for rugs, fabrics and decor. On a lifestyle oriented palette it holds and mixes travel impressions, architecture, fashion, graphic design and literature.

What are you looking forward to finding in our entries and which features are you going to reward?

I’ll be looking for designs that showcase new ideas and techniques, that push the boundaries and foster an emotional connection. I’m drawn to designs that explore a clever use of materials and styles from a range of eras. Risk-taking aesthetics appeal to me most.

Which role do you think a Design Award should have nowadays?

A design award should bring to light and celebrate visionary designers, highlighting projects that are out-of-the-box and impactful. The Archiproducts Awards are a great opportunity to advocate interconnectedness in the design community.

In which direction should contemporary product Design go and how should it evolve to answer people’s needs?

Contemporary product design should elevate the human experience, heightening senses and broadening expectations. We crave innovation that is highly functional and makes the everyday experience that much better.

 

Omer Arbel: “I am looking for a sense of surprise and delight, to see something unexpected.”

Traveling between Vancouver and Berlin, Omer Abel’s professional field oscillates between architecture, design and sculpture. Among the central themes of his work are researches and experiments on the mechanical, physical and chemical qualities of materials and the exploration of light as a dynamic medium. Arbel is co-founder and creative director of the lighting brand Bocci. In 2020 his work will be on display in Germany and Greece respectively, with a presentation of four architecture projects in Berlin and an exhibition of a new series of copper objects at the Carwan Gallery in Athens.

What are you looking forward to finding in our entries and which features are you going to reward?

I am looking for a sense of surprise and delight. To see something unexpected.

 Which role do you think a Design Award should have nowadays?

Awards are tools of legitimization. We cannot work in a vacuum. Regard from our peers and community is important to any practitioner both on a personal and professional level.

 In which direction should contemporary product Design go and how should it evolve to answer people’s needs?

There is not a single answer to this question. The more heterogeneous the landscape becomes, the better. Every practitioner should answer this question for themselves and their audience, and the more different answers there are, the better.

 

 Robert McKinley: “We need to reward originality, passion, and authenticity in every form.”

Robert McKinley, head of the homonymous studio based at New York, is the creative mind behind some of the most interesting hospitality projects of the last years, including Joaquin Hotel in Laguna Beach California and the Kinsley Hotel in Kingston, New York. Driven by his visceral love for craftsmanship, he started his career in the field of visual merchandising, working with various fashion brands like Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan. McKinley has also collaborated on installations with artists such as Mike Mills, Tom Sachs, Santigold, Takeshi Murata and worked on projects of institutions such as the MoCA in Los Angeles.

What are you looking forward to finding in our entries and which features are you going to reward?

I appreciate attention to detail and beautiful craftsmanship. When I design a space, I look for inspiration from all over, so I love products that convey a mood and provide a certain flair that can’t be found elsewhere. Creativity is particularly important as well – whether that means looking to the future or re-imagining a classic idea from the past.

 Which role do you think a Design Award should have nowadays?

Design awards are more important than ever. There is a real sense that the world is shifting and changing, and it’s essential that our design meets those challenges. We need to reward originality, passion, and authenticity in every form.

 In which direction should contemporary product Design go and how should it evolve to answer people’s needs?

As crazy as it has felt at times, I think 2020 has been a year for slowing down. That means we need products that will last, products that create a sense of comfort and stability. Home achieved a whole new meaning during this time – I think that is a sensation that will stick with us when looking at design for the future. Even in products for hospitality or commercial spaces, I expect a trend towards softness and an emphasis on the details. Amidst all the trauma and the stress, this could be a tremendous moment for the design community to come together and question our most basic purpose, which at its heart, I think, is comfort and ease.