Form&Seek carves out a unifying space in the design world.

The Futurists—Part 3

By Anna Carnick

In celebration of the 2017 edition of Salone del Mobile—as the international design community scans the horizon for what’s new this year—Pamono is offering up a five-part series on emerging voices that are articulating a more thought-provoking design future. With this installment, we profile Form&Seek, an international collective created “by designers for designers.”




It all came together quite naturally, really. In 2013, three young, London-based designers—Bilge Nur Saltik, Golnar Roshan, and Ruben de la Rive Box—organized a group show for themselves and a handful of friends at Istanbul Design Week. The exhibition, entitled No Borders, presented objects by nine recent Royal College of Art grads from nine different countries, reflecting the wonderfully diverse character of today’s design scene while celebrating the unique cultural background of each designer. As the organizers then noted, “We believe design is an international language that transcends borders and connects people through creativity.”

From left: Ruben de la Rive Box, Bilge Nur Saltik, and Golnar Roshan; All images courtesy of Form&Seek
It was a simple, yet powerful message, and it set the tone for what was to follow. As de la Rive Box recalls, “It really started as a group of friends coming together to exhibit their work. Very soon we realized that exhibiting together had many advantages: exhibition space became affordable, we could reach more people than we could individually, and, above all, we had a lot of fun doing it.” 

The following year, the trio formally established Form&Seek, a design collective composed of young, diverse talents—all united by a passion for experimental, functional, and poetic design—that has since become one of the most active emerging players in today’s global design scene. The collective grew quickly, expanding from just a handful to approximately 80 up-and-coming designers from around the world in a few short years. Since launching, Form&Seek has presented exhibitions at design’s biggest events—including the last three Milan Design Weeks and London Design Festivals—each time showcasing new works by its  collaborators.

While Form&Seek has clearly filled a gap by providing young talents with a much-needed platform and network, it also offers participants a larger, unifying purpose. Carving out their own space as a welcoming, varied, and positive presence, they’ve simultaneously championed emerging designers and design’s power to inspire and connect—a sentiment that has resonated with both designers and the design community at large.

“It allows us to have a place in the design community by creating a context and environment of our own,” Roshan tells us. “We love doing this because it is a way to meet new designers from around the whole world and bring them together. In a time that many people retract into segregation and when nationalism and sectarianism are growing, we like to be a platform open to talented designers from any background who are interested in the power of design as a driver of change, diversity, and unity.”

Nila Rezai’s interactive Dispersion mirror, inspired by climate change
The fact that Form&Seek’s founders are themselves designers seems to play an important role in their burgeoning success. It is, as they say, a project “for designers by designers.” As de la Rive Box explains, “Because we are exhibiting in the shows with our own work, we are very close to the core of what Form&Seek should be.” He goes on, “The core principle of Form&Seek is to use the power of multiples to propel individuals. We try to bring people from different backgrounds and different disciplines together so they can meet, learn, and benefit from each other. Our mission is to make each and every Form&Seeker flourish by making the collective stronger.”

They’ve certainly gathered a wealth of talent, including rising talents such as Pia Wustenberg, Jules Waibel, Dafi Reis Doron, Guillaume Neu-Rinaudo, Birgit Severin, Sarah Colson, Elinor Portnoy, and Lina Patsiou, among others. And their latest show, Age of Man, launching at Ventura Lambrate during Milan Design Week 2017, looks to be their most exciting—and perhaps ambitious—project yet.

“The direct inspiration came from an article about the Anthropocene, which is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth's geology,” de la Rive Box explains. “This triggered a desire we had had for a while to give our shows a deeper message beyond just the individual work and take some responsibility as humans for how we deal with our environment and our planet. Shortly after we chose the theme, a few big events happened—the Brexit referendum and the election of Trump—that really showed us that our theme is even more relevant than we [initially] thought. The rise of conservative thinking and closed-minded populism around the Western world is really the opposite of what the world needs. As designers we hope we can inspire people to think in terms of progressive solutions to problems and trust in creativity and innovation to solve our issues—rather than division and egoism.” 

Poster for F&S’s new exhibition
Age of Man
will bring together existing designs and works of art as well as new pieces created specifically for the show by the collective’s largest designer roster to date.  The project spans, “unexpected materials—such as human hair and sculptural objects that breathe new life into the timeless and inherently sustainable material Terrazzo. Several designs investigate the relationship between rapidly evolving digital fabrication and craft; while others revisit and draw from ancient rituals and theories surrounding primitive architecture.” Ultimately, once again, the goal is to bring people together—both makers and viewers—but this time to consider design’s role in our collective future. And just as in that first show, the notion of design’s ability to transcend borders will be fully on display. As the Form&Seek team notes: “Objects have the power to communicate meaningful messages and new ways of looking at the world.”

For those in Milan next week, be sure to check out Age of Man at the Wheelshop at Ventura Lambrate, on view from April 4-9, 2017.  And if you can’t make it to Milan, don’t fret!  You can learn more about Form&Seek and check out the collective’s inspiring catalogue here.

* Be sure to check out the other stories in our new “Futurists” series, including profiles of Camp Design Gallery and curator Annalisa Rosso as well as upcoming texts on David Heldt of Connecting the Dots and Lou Weis of Broached Commissions.

  • Text by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.

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