BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts

blond shares insights of their MDW 2024 laboratory initiative

 

In the heart of Brera on Via Palermo, this April, London’s renowned industrial design studio, BLOND, is set to captivate the audiences with its BLOND LABORATORY initiative during Milan Design Week 2024. Founder and Creative Director, James Melia, speaks with designboom and shares the behind the scenes of the exhibition, revealing a lineup of seven of the world’s most exciting industrial designers, including Form Us With Love, and Hirotaka Tako – Head of Design Centre Europe and Creative Director at Sony. Each of them, contributes to an event where the future of design meets the past.

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts
a teaser of Hirotaka Tako’s new vision of the old gauge

all images courtesy of BLOND LABORATORY

 

 

‘Following the success of BLOND Artefacts at Milan Design Week 2023, we wanted to expand its impact. BLOND Laboratory emerged as an experiment, inviting diverse designers worldwide to interpret our design process uniquely. We aimed to showcase different signature styles and processes, turning it into a melting pot of creativity. The laboratory concept adds depth and interest to the initiative, allowing various designers with distinct backgrounds to contribute their perspectives,’ begins James Melia Founder and Creative Director of BLOND.

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts
James Melia, Founder and Creative Director of BLOND and BLOND LABORATORY

 

 

Fueled by the present industry fascination with AI design, ‘BLOND Artefacts’ originated as an in-house studio initiative aimed at teaching the younger generation of designers the appreciation for the charm and interest found in physical objects as opposed to online imagery. During Milan Design Week 2024, BLOND LABORATORY is advocating for the primacy of inspiration from ‘real world’ sources, something BLOND’s Founder and Creative Director, James Melia, feels is at risk of being lost by the next generation of designers due to the widespread use of digital images and the growth in AI-generated visual media.

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts
a small glimpse on Maddalena Casadei’s take on the classic mallet

 

 

‘My concerns with the internet revolve around the tendency for everyone to draw inspiration from the same online pool, stifling originality. Additionally, conceptual work online may not be practically feasible for production. While AI is a valuable tool for efficiency, it should not replace genuine, tangible inspiration. We advocate for using AI to enhance the design process efficiently but caution against relying solely on it for inspiration, which may lead to recycled and impractical design trends,’ expressing his concern on online imagery.

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts
designer Jon Marshall gives the long forgotten whisk an elegant flair

 

 

The stellar of international designers includes Hirotaka Tako from Sony, John Tree, Jon Marshall of Pentagram, Form Us With Love, Julie Richoz from Julie Richoz Studio, Maddalena Casadei from Maddalena Casadei Studio, and James Melia himself. These seven designers that BLOND has invited, are people that the studio admires as sharing similar interests, values and exceptional work quality; achieving standards that are pushing Industrial Design forward as a whole. What sets this exhibition apart is its response to the ‘BLOND Artefacts’ studio initiative, where each of these creators finds inspiration from real-world objects that are no longer readily in production. 

BLOND'S LABORATORY initiative revives tangible design narratives from historic artefacts
studio Form Us With Love takes the corkscrew and gives visitors an unexpected design, reinforcing the significance of tangible, real-world inspiration in the face of digital homogenization

 

 

‘The diversity in designers’ backgrounds was crucial, not just for the objects but for the varied processes through which they drew inspiration. We aimed for different responses to the initiative, and the results have been fascinating. Each designer approached the process uniquely, demonstrating the richness and versatility of design inspiration,’ continues James Melia.

blond-laboratory-initiative-designboom-02-fullwidth

James Melia shines bright light on the artefacts, turning the basket into a refined design

 

‘our studio looked like a junk shop sometimes’

 

Each designer was asked to select an artefact sourced by BLOND’s team for under £20 from ordinary, everyday locations over six months; from inconspicuous items forgotten in lofts, to charity shop discoveries, and junk-shop curiosities. Between 15 – 21 April, BLOND LABORATORY will be showcasing each contributing designer’s response to their object, tackled in their own signature practice and style. The exhibition brings together each designer’s artefact inspiration, their process, and the prototyped outcome within a specially curated exhibition set within a historic carpentry warehouse in the centre of Brera.

 

‘Every month for a year, 17 of us, discovered and brought a lot of artefacts. Our studio looked like a bit of a junk shop sometimes! We acted as curators, carefully choosing objects with varying characteristics to prevent similarities. The pre-selected artefacts served as prompts for designers, sparking unique ideas. The collaboration resulted in an inspiring and fruitful exchange, fostering relationships and making the design process more engaging,’  reveals James.

 

blond-laboratory-initiative-designboom-04-fullwidth

only John Tree could have turned a water ladle into an audio device

 

fostering authenticity and creativity away from the internet

 

As visitors explore the exhibition, they will not only witness inventive and unexpected designs but also embark on a journey that reinforces the significance of tangible, real-world inspiration in the face of digital homogenization. BLOND’s commitment to fostering this kind of creativity is rooted in authenticity, believing in the idea that designers have the tools and inspiration for design all around us, whether from existing man-made objects or the natural world. According to James Melia, with the increasing prevalence of advanced CGI tools and Artificial Intelligence, there’s a potential risk that genuine inspiration may be replaced or overshadowed by AI-driven processes, resulting in designs lacking narrative, feasibility, and the human touch.

 

‘In a rapidly changing world, design should be a tool to help us integrate into the future or, if necessary, prevent unfavorable changes. We believe in using design and technology sensitively, taking into account their impact. BLOND aims to contribute by shaping the future responsibly, considering both human needs and the evolving technological landscape. Looking back at historical objects helps us ensure we are moving in the right direction, learning from the past to create a better future,’ he concludes.

 

blond-laboratory-initiative-designboom-03-fullwidth

Julie Richoz’s balancing bird finds new fiery equilibrium

 

1/6
Hirotaka Tako - Head of Design Centre Europe and Creative Director at Sony
Hirotaka Tako - Head of Design Centre Europe and Creative Director at Sony
Maddalena Casadei from Maddalena Casadei Studio
Maddalena Casadei from Maddalena Casadei Studio
Julie Richoz from Julie Richoz Studio
Julie Richoz from Julie Richoz Studio
John Tree, Independent Product and Furniture Designer
John Tree, Independent Product and Furniture Designer
Jon Marshall, Partner at Pentagram
Jon Marshall, Partner at Pentagram
From Us With Love studio
From Us With Love studio

project info:

 

initiative name: BLOND LABORATORY

design consultancy: BLOND | @blondcreative

organization & curation: BLOND

founder & creative director: James Melia

participating designers: Hirotaka Tako (Sony) – Creative Director at Sony Design Centre Europe; John Tree – Independent Product and Furniture Designer; Jon Marshall – Partner at Pentagram; Form Us With Love – International Design Studio; Julie Richoz – Independent Designer; Maddalena Casadei – Independent Architect and Designer; James Melia – Founder and Creative Director at BLOND

occasion: Milan Design Week 2024

location: Via Palermo, 11, 20121 Milano, in the heart of Brera

dates: April 15 – 21, 2024

daily opening times: 10:00 – 18:00

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom
happening now! AXOR makes individual luxury a reality in the bathroom, and reveals its citterio C collection by antonio citterio.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5