phaidon's monograph of james irvine details the life and work of the late designer
phaidon's monograph of james irvine details the life and work of the late designer phaidon's monograph of james irvine details the life and work of the late designer
oct 11, 2015

phaidon's monograph of james irvine details the life and work of the late designer

phaidon’s monograph of james irvine details the life and work of the late designer
image © designboom




james irvine
editor: francesca picchi, with marialaura rossiello irvine
publisher: phaidon
design: shawn hazen, hazen creative, inc
year: 2015
format: 270 x 205 mm, (10 5/8 x 8 1/8 in)
features: hardcover, 240 pages, 600 color illustrations
language: english
ISBN: 9780714868967

designboom rating: (must read)




london-born creative james irvine (1958-2014) studied at the royal college of art. early on in his career he moved to milan where he synthesized his classical british design training with the energetic sensibilities of the italians — from which his awareness of design and his own methodologies materialized. upon his arrival in milan in 1984, irvine began working as a design consultant at olivetti. it was a moment of change, when a shift from the mechanical world to a more electronic one was happening. this was at the heart of the research that ettore sottsass — heading olivetti’s design department at the time — was conducting, alongside close advisors george sowden and michele de lucchi.

james irvine phaidon monograph designboom
‘everybody is surrounded by treasures – by finds, memories, figures from model railways. most get dusty somewhere. I wanted to return the intrinsic value to these treasures.’ – james irvine on designing ‘treasure box’ for auerberg (p.214-215)
image © designboom




irvine’s arrival into this environment saw him collaborating closely with de lucchi for eight years, in which they developed a close bond with one another. meanwhile, irvine was also engaging in research and experimentation with a group of young architects and designers, gravitating towards ettore sottsass who had been garnering a lot of attention from the international scene for founding memphis; a collective that was revolutionizing the creative and commercial logic of the design world. the memphis movement thrived and flourished in milan throughout the 80s, quickly becoming the center of italian design. it was during this period that sottsass left his position at olivetti and spearheaded began sottsass associati with marco zanini; a design consultancy which worked on large-scale architectural projects, as well as on projects for international firms. sottsass offered the young british designer a partnership in his new company. with some heavy contemplation and hesitation, irvine accepted and would stay until 1997, before focusing on his own design studio which he founded in 1988.

james irvine phaidon monograph designboom
the technical drawings and details of james irvine’s ‘centomila’ collection for magis (p. 102-103)
image © designboom




with studio irvine, james went on to work with a number of globally renowned agencies — from the bold italian furniture brand magis, to the minimalistic japanese company muji, to the traditional craftsmanship and techniques of german atelier thonet. this diverse range of clients saw him developing designs for a remarkable number of product categories, with his extensive portfolio which includes injection molded chairs to stainless steel kitchenware, marble tables to a fax machine, and a fleet of buses for the city of hanover. it was james irvine’s adaptability and his straightforward approach to finding a solution for any creative problem, which has made him one of the leading figures of contemporary design.

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a bottle opener for alfi designed by james irvine, 1997-1999 (p. 94-95)
image © designboom




phaidon details the life and work of the british-born, milan-based designer with a definitive monograph. edited by francesca picchi, with marialaura rossiello irvine, the volume highlights irvine’s exceptional contribution to the field of industrial design and features contributing texts by giulio cappellini, naoto fukasawa, stefano giovannoni, konstantin grcic, michele de lucchi, alberto meda, jasper morrison, marc newson, george sowden, thomas sandell and deyan sudjic. each one recounts their personal and professional relationship with james irvine through personal essays and interviews, revealing his passions, interests and idiosyncrasies. the volume presents 600 color illustrations, offering an indepth look at previously unpublished drawings, sketches, models and images from irvine’s archives, visually recount the technical and artistic development of james irvine over the course of his career. the monograph is a celebration of the designer’s practice and the effortless way in which he was able to transform an idea into a tangible object.

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concept drawigs and prototypes of james irvine’s ‘chair no. 14’ for muji // thonet (p. 202-203)
image © designboom


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the back of ‘chair no. 14’ visually aligns with the height of its table – an expression of irvine’s aesthetic sensibilities

sketches of james irvine’s project for memphis’ ‘twelve new’ exhibition in 1986, curated by barbara radice (p. 34-35)

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details of the production process of james irvine’s papier-mâché ‘durama’ mask, 2012 (p. 234-235)
image © designboom

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the designers involved in the alessi twergi project, 1989
from L-R: mike ryan, adalberto pironi, james irvine, marco zanini, aldo cibic, ettore sottsass, massimo iosa ghini

james irvine book designboom
a view of studio irvine in milan
james irvine book designboom
a glimpse into studio irvine’s archives


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