Emerging designers influencing thinkNEXT with their creative practice

Best of 2022: STIR rounds up young creatives who redefined the design industry, putting forth radical new perspectives for the NEXT of design.

by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Dec 26, 2022

A design revolution seems to be in the works. With the advent of NFTS and the metaverse, the digital world is beckoning. Development and innovation in materials, sciences and construction technology, along with the radical thought to do better seems to be driving the younger generation of architects and designers. Building on that, they appear to be navigating and exploring the possibilities of design tools. Across various exhibitions, competitions, awards, and events that took place in 2022, we were introduced to young designers crafting a better world through art, architecture, and design. Exhibitions at Milan Design Week 2022 such as No Space for Waste and The New Paradigma, The One Tree project at London Design Festival 2022 and designers on Midjourney opened up new perspectives and windows to the world.

As 2022 winds up, STIR rounds up seven young designers/architects who redefined the design industry, putting forth a radical new perspective for the NEXT of design.

1. Saba Yazdjerdi

  • Saba Yazdjerdi and Kabbadeh-chin from Pahlevoon Collection | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Saba Yazdjerdi and Kabbadeh-chin from Pahlevoon Collection Image: Courtesy of Saba Yazdjerdi
  • Pahlevoon collection by Saba Yazdjerdi | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Pahlevoon collection by Saba Yazdjerdi Image: Courtesy of Saba Yazdjerdi
  • The Mil-Stone was created as a bench, symbolising the Pahlevan’s strength and the foundational spirit within the Iranian community and the Pahlevan's family | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    The Mil-Stone was created as a bench, symbolising the Pahlevan’s strength and the foundational spirit within the Iranian community and the Pahlevan's family Image: Courtesy of Saba Yazdjerdi

Born in Tehran Iran, Saba Yazdjerdi is an architect and designer whose work investigates her cultural heritage through object, spaces, and materials. Yazdjerdi, who was raised in Tehran, has lived in Colorado, Rhode Island, Bangkok, New York and California throughout her life. Fascinated by the human experience, Yazdjerdi explores themes of identity and belonging through a new lens that seeks to embrace, preserve, and celebrate Iranian culture. With this in mind, her work achieves a dual purpose: 'To reimagine her personal narrative and give Iran’s rich cultural past a new life.'

As a practising architectural designer, her practice areas have spanned from cultural to residential, creating spaces for galleries, museums, and residences. Owning the traditional heritage, her Pahlevoon collection explored the critical attributes of Pahlevani––an Iranian martial art, steeped in ethical principles, athletic rituals, and ancient Persian beliefs.

2. SUNRIU

  • SUNRIU and Flow Single Sofa | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    SUNRIU and Flow Single Sofa Image: Courtesy of SUNRIU
  • Flow Collection by SUNRIU | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Flow Collection by SUNRIU Image: Courtesy of SUNRIU
  • ‘End, Start’ is a new form of pencil that moves the end of the pencil lead forward | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    ‘End, Start’ is a new form of pencil that moves the end of the pencil lead forward Image: Courtesy of SUNRIU

Taiwanese designer and founder of SUNRIU, Tang Jingquan’s inquiring mind draws on the experiences around his daily life, and connects his imagination to human senses and day-to-day insights via designs. Jingquan creates with the intention to present different interpretations of everyday experiences through his work so that the beauty of communal feelings can be widely shared everywhere.

Believing that design can transcend national boundaries, connect different cultural experiences, and impart the beauty of communal feelings, his creative endeavours include the Flow Collection, Tai—a series of furniture that is inspired by Taiwan Power Company's 'Recycle Project for Defunct Transformer Boxes', The End-Start—a new form of pencil and Air-Shape, to name a few.

3. Iga Węglińska

  • Polish designer and researcher Iga Węglińska and her design for Emotional Clothing | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Polish designer and researcher Iga Węglińska and her design for Emotional Clothing Image: Mila Łapko
  • Emotional Clothing consists of two polysensory silhouettes that use the phenomenon of biofeedback| Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Emotional Clothing consists of two polysensory silhouettes that use the phenomenon of biofeedback Image: Mila Łapko
  • Research on samples–sensors for changes in body heat and breathing were carried out prior to creating the first prototype suits | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Research on samples–sensors for changes in body heat and breathing were carried out prior to creating the first prototype suits Image: Iga Węglińska

Far-reaching and seeking purpose, the Emotional Clothing line by Polish designer Iga Węglińska is an experiential intersection of wearable technology and fashion design, where clothing doesn't just grab the physical but is intuitive in its essence. Like the rest of her imaginative oeuvre, Węglińska regards clothing as sculpture, carried by and based on the human body. Her design process focuses on the form, as well as the emotions that are evoked when wearing it, emphasised by beliefs in 'intellectual fashion'—fashion as an art, and fashion that gives its wearer a 'feeling of singularity.'

Merging the fields of fashion design and product design with research, new technologies, and applied materials, within the dual realms of the physical and digital, Węglińska’s works aims to explore the NEXT of the design world. Talking to STIR, she said, “As a designer and scientist, I focus on human-garment relations. After years of observation, I feel like we do not pay proper respect to our clothing, by not trying to find out its full potential in relation to other fields, especially technology. Fashion and its trends have trained us to think of clothing as just an aesthetic shell. Designers have a great opportunity to sensitise people towards newer forms, shapes, and aesthetics, but also their usages and progression, which is something I try to follow within my work.”

4. Elham Nejati

  • Elham Nejati; Tohi Sketches | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Elham Nejati; Tohi Sketches Image: Sina Pouyan; Courtesy of Hoomans Studio and Elham Nejati
  • The designer experiments with an array of products that reflect the concepts of imperfection and human emotions | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    The designer experiments with an array of products that reflect the concepts of imperfection and human emotions Image: Courtesy of Hoomans Studio and Elham Nejati
  • Tohi, which translates to hollow in the Persian language, is made entirely out of marble and a little steel | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Tohi, which translates to hollow in the Persian language, is made entirely out of marble and a little steel Image: Courtesy of Hoomans Studio and Elham Nejati

In the matrix of innovations on display at the 5Vie design district during Milan Design Week 2022, amongst a plethora of idealist, romantic, realist, minimalist, and perfectionist interventions, stands an imperfect piece, seemingly incomplete. A piece that is connected yet disconnected; a still work of art that seems to initiate a conversation with the observer even in a crowded room. A closer look reveals the errant identity to be a marble and steel vase named Tohi. Tohi, the word, hails from the Persian language, translating to 'hollow'. The 19 cm x 34 cm vase is the solidified leitmotif of Iranian designer Elham Nejati, and speaks of her intriguing quest for ambiguity in designs.

From her childhood inclinations to finding new ways to express herself unrestrictedly, the interior designer turned industrial designer creates pieces that speak of human emotions, perceptions, and extended thoughts of life. Her works are founded on a design process that revels in the beauty of imperfection and the never-ending possibility of interacting with different minds.

5. Barney Shanks and Sam Draper

  • Seratech’s Chief Technical Officer Barney Shanks (left), and CEO Sam Draper (right) | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Seratech’s Chief Technical Officer Barney Shanks (left), and CEO Sam Draper (right) Image: Helene Sandberg
  • Seratech’s process involves the production of a silica that can reduce the composition of Portland cement in concrete mix by 30 per cent | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Seratech’s process involves the production of a silica that can reduce the composition of Portland cement in concrete mix by 30 per cent Image: Helene Sandberg
  • The carbon neutral cement, if scaled up globally, is expected to eliminate three billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    The carbon neutral cement, if scaled up globally, is expected to eliminate three billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year Image: Helene Sandberg

On October 6, 2022, Copenhagen-based Henrik Frode Obel Foundation announced material technology company Seratech as the winner of the Obel Award 2022. The architecture award recognised the efforts of the company’s material scientists and London’s Imperial College PhD students—Barney Shanks and Sam Draper—in creating a solution against the alarming carbon footprint generated by the building and construction industry. The duo have created carbon-neutral concrete through an efficient, low-cost process using materials that are naturally available all over the globe. The technology, according to the Obel Award jury, best represents the 2022 theme of the award 'Embodied Emissions'—referring to the irreversible and unremedied amount of CO2 that’s released in the construction of concrete architecture, and the need to sequester the problem at the source.

Talking about their exploration of the material, Shanks shares, “We found a way to take the world’s most abundant waste product, CO2, and react it with the world’s most abundant mineral, magnesium silicate. In doing this, we produce two things: magnesium carbonate and silica.” Adding to it, Draper said, “But the really exciting bit is the silica. We use this as a cement replacement material, and if this is scaled globally, not only does it cut Portland cement production by 30 per cent, but also sequesters the emissions from the remaining 70 per cent, resulting in carbon-neutral concrete.”

6. Raphael Kadid

  • Raphael Kadid and Apollo Pendant Lamp | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Raphael Kadid and Apollo Pendant Lamp Image: Courtesy of Raphael Kadid Studio
  • Oblago is a table lamp made of five massive aluminium elements | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Oblago is a table lamp made of five massive aluminium elements Image: Courtesy of Raphael Kadid Studio
  • A series of chandeliers and wall lights for the new gastronomic restaurant of Les Sources de Cheverny, a domain near Chambord in France | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    A series of chandeliers and wall lights for the new gastronomic restaurant of Les Sources de Cheverny, a domain near Chambord in France Image: Courtesy of Raphael Kadid Studio

Exploring the multitudes between experimental artefacts and contemporary objects, the Switzerland-based French designer and architect specialises in the creation and design of lamps, redefining and re-examining the boundaries of the lamps themselves as household items. The works of Raphael Kadid are sculptures in their own right; beautiful objects that exist as examples of accumulative, eclectic inspiration, lineages that span across offerings from the past century. His creations—futuristic, uncanny and beautifully strange—remain a bastion of hope for independent craft, creation and respective cultures.

Included in his noteworthy designs are the Apollo Pendant Lamp, Oblago Table Lamp and Cheverny Chandeliers, to name a few.

7. Mario Alessiani

  • Mario Alessiani and Blossom acoustic lighting collection | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Mario Alessiani and Blossom acoustic lighting collection Image: Courtesy of Mario Alessiani Design Studio
  • Bridge is a metal vase collection designed for the Belgian brand Xbloom | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Bridge is a metal vase collection designed for the Belgian brand Xbloom Image: Courtesy of Mario Alessiani Design Studio
  • Float is a battery-powered lamp, designed for the Italian company Axolight | Young designers who caught our attention | STIRworld
    Float is a battery-powered lamp, designed for the Italian company Axolight Image: Courtesy of Mario Alessiani Design Studio

Functional beauty is at the core of Italian designer Mario Alessiani’s works, where the attention is not focused on shaping but on how to shape, in order to have the most efficient production phase. Drawing inspiration from the phrase that “design is the right mix between producibility and function, with an eye for shape,” Alessiani’s designs are a manifestation of transparent designs, understood by everyone.

“I focus on a few details because I want them to be catchy. Bruno Munari once said: ‘Complicating is simple, simplifying is complicated.’ I am aware that in the Instagrammable age, decorated and coloured objects have more appeal than a simple and functional one. My design wants to make simple and functional objects cool, and the only way to succeed is to make people understand that there are cool aspects invisible, at first glance,” shares Alessiani.

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