Curating TalentLAB 4

In early 2018 I was invited to the HQ of made.com to meet with design director Ruth Wassermann and begin the process of curating the fourth collection of TalentLAB, a brilliant initiative that puts the entire production facility of the company at the disposal of anyone with a great idea.

The made.com TalentLAB4 collection curated by Michelle Ogundehin

The complete made.com TalentLAB4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The concept is simple. TalentLAB is essentially a crowdfunding platform that brings to life the work of emerging designers, as well as providing the canny consumer with a chance to back a Future Classic. In short, anyone with an idea for something they feel deserves to be designed uploads a drawing to the site, and then the best are selected to be worked up into prototypes. At this point, you, the potential customer can pledge a small, risk-free deposit on any favourite designs but only the most popular are put into production and launched for official sale on made.com. So you get to steer what gets made. But if not enough people agree with you, although you get your deposit back, sadly the life of that design probably ends there.

Portrait of Michelle Ogundehin with products from the made.com TalentLAB4 collection

Portrait of Michelle Ogundehin with products from the made.com TalentLAB4 collection

And while all previous collections have been edited in-house, this time, made.com handed the curating reins over to me! “It’s an opportunity for designers to have access to our massive network of suppliers, and also to our pre-existing community of design-oriented customers — both things they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.” says made.com Design Director Ruth Wassermann. Best of all though, if you’re one of the early pledgers and you back a winning design, you get to buy your piece at a special lower design-lovers price, and to know that you contributed directly to the launch of a new designer’s career. Win/win!

 

In terms of curation, the most important aspects to me were an overall sense of consideration in the designs; I was looking for pieces with an intrinsic sense of truth, honesty and authenticity. I’m often inspired by the work of Japanese designers precisely for this reason, and I believe you can see a similar sort of elegant simplicity in the pieces I’ve chosen to go through to the mock-up stage here. It meant that some pieces required a little subtle tweaking, with others we just switched up the colours or materials to inspire a sense of timelessness with a top note of fashionability. Think a foundation of wood and brass, and an inky blue or pale pink for the majority of the pieces.

As a result, I feel this collection is composed of pieces that capture the attention for being subtly different, while also being great forever buys that work now, tomorrow and onwards. Do I have any favourites? As hard as it is to pick, I AM a big stool fan as they are the ultimate pieces of multi-purpose furniture (seat, side table, even step stool!). And I think the Ox chair in teal blue is incredibly sculptural, as is the Bias teapot set. All the planters could happily find a permanent place in my home, but particularly the two in brass most especially the Enso flower holder inspired by Ikebana. And the Fold wall hanger — deceptively simple, which is always the mark of a great piece, and if you had quite a generous hallway this would be an incredibly striking way to display your coats, or perhaps just a signature dress in your bedroom.

So… I had a little play with some of my favourite products at home! From top left: the Enso flower holder; the Bias teapot, Vases Mes Petits planter in brass, the Schema Marble Effect mirror (centre and bottom left); and the Knotto cushion.

Here’s a link to a Q&A with Ruth about the collection.

And you can view the entire collection and place a pledge here Just £5 secures you a Future Classic.

But remember, you only have until Tuesday 25 June 2019 to decide what gets made, and what doesn’t. Your pledges matter; they could make someone’s career!

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

The made.com TalentLAB 4 collection, as edited by Michelle Ogundehin

 

The full list of products…

Bias teapot and pair of teacups, designed by Anna Sichelska, a Polish graphic and product designer.

Funen stool in dark-stained oak by Christian Hansen, a student at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen

Enso flower holder in mangowood and brass, by Corinna Gohlich, a trainee carpenter at the Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster

Up Up wall lamp in black by Florian Brillet, a director of Brillet Ltd

Blush occasional chair in vintage pink velvet by Frederick Eksteen, a self-employed designer trained in South Africa.

Knotto Knit cushion in pink designed by Gosia Rusek, former textile student at the University of Derby

La Latina shelving unit with mirror in pale blue and oak by Isabel Cambiella, a senior designer at 3ina Cosmetics

Timeless wall clock in black and white by Ivana Blascova, a Dutch freelance designer

Ox chair in blue, designed by Jon Christie, a graduate of the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee

Slump lounge chair in grey, designed by Liam Sholicar, a CAD technician at The Wood Works in Letchworth Garden City

Schema Geometric Tinted Mirror, framed in brass, designed by Loukas & Vasso, design directors of Studio Lav

Schema Geometric marble-effect mirror framed in brass, designed by Loukas & Vasso, design directors of Studio Lav

Clamshell Pendant Light, in black, by Marc Sicard, a designer based in France

Zzino Set of Two Coffee Tables, in black marble & mango wood, designed by Mihajlo Juric, Serbian graduate of Product Design at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan

Stak Set Of 2 Ombre Plant Pots, in rose, by Natasha Duda, an alumnus of Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

Fold Wall Hanger, in black-coated steel, by Phan Thao Dang, a US-based Central St Martin’s graduate

The Stick desk lamp in wood and brass designed by Samy Rio, currently a designer at Atelier Luma in Arles, France

Mes Vases Petites, in brass by Thomas Glorian, a product designer at Studio LWCP, France

 

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