Design Currents presents the work of three contemporary designers—Oki Sato of Tokyo, Faye Toogood of London, and Zanini de Zanine of Rio de Janeiro—who deftly use handcrafted and industrial materials and techniques to create functional yet deeply expressive objects.The exhibition looks at the links between context and creativity by examining the distinct culture and methods of each designer’s studio. It also shares how their versatile skills, focus on collaboration, and experimentation with artisanal and manufactured materials help shape our experience of the objects and their surroundings. Design Currents is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions initiated by Collab, a group that supports the Museum’s modern and contemporary design collection and programs. This year Collab presents Sato, Toogood, and de Zanine with its Design Excellence: New Generation award, which honors young talents in the field of design.
Oki Sato, Tokyo
Trained as an architect, Oki Sato (born 1977) founded the studio Nendo in 2002 to focus on product design. The studio’s name, meaning “clay” in Japanese, alludes to Sato’s playful approach to design. All of Nendo’s designs begin with a cartoonlike sketch, which are quickly developed as sophisticated digital renderings and prototypes. This process yields finished products that are minimal in form and highly polished in their fabrication. Nendo objects, which often reference Japanese pop culture or reimagine traditional craft techniques, are imbued with an expressive or even human quality.
Faye Toogood, London
Faye Toogood (born 1977) brings an experimental approach to the design of furniture, clothing, and spaces. She and her studio take particular inspiration from England’s long history of trades and handcrafts. These interests and a deep respect for the power of manual labor have resulted in collaborations with traditional artisans and small-scale fabricators who usually work outside the world of contemporary design. A former magazine stylist, Toogood conceives many of her designs as part of larger “Assemblages,” in which she places individual objects within three-dimensional settings to communicate a unified story or concept.
Zanini de Zanine, Rio de Janeiro
Zanini de Zanine (born 1978) studied industrial design before launching a workshop in 2004, followed by Studio Zanini in 2011. His work pays homage to mid-century Brazilian design while exhibiting a sculptural language all its own. Studio Zanini also acts as an advocate for traditional carpentry techniques by actively promoting a workshop culture that is sensitive to Rio’s social and economic dynamics. Through an appreciation of indigenous materials and industrial partnerships and a concern for ecological issues, de Zanine’s craftsmanlike approach imagines the next chapter in Brazilian modernist design.