Doshi Levien: “We are thrilled to be Stockholm Guests of Honour”

The designers Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien will be at Stockholm furniture and light fair with an exhibition over 200 square meters

Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien - Doshi Levien
Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien - Doshi Levien

Kundan by Doshi Levien – Galerie Kreo

“WE WILL BRING THE SPIRIT OF OUR LONDON STUDIO TO STOCKHOLM IN THE FORM OF DRAWINGS, PROTOTYPES IN COMBINATION WITH FINAL OBJECTS”, SAY NIPA DOSHI AND JONATHAN LEVIEN, STOCKHOLM FURNITURE AND LIGHT FAIR GUESTS OF HONOUR, ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE DESIGN STUDIOS, ACCLAIMED FOR COMBINING CULTURE, TECHNOLOGY, INDUSTRIAL DESIGN AND TRUE CRAFTSMANSHIP. THEY TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBITION, BUT ALSO ABOUT THEIR CREATIVE APPROACH, THEIR DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES, THE UPCOMING PROJECTS FOR SALONE 2020 AND THEIR DREAMS. 

You are Stockholm Furniture Fair Guests of Honour. How do you feel and what you are preparing for the fair?
We are thrilled to be Stockholm Guests of Honour, the fair is very high quality. In the entrance, we will make an exhibition over 200 square meters to present our creative process behind our designs. We will bring the spirit of our London studio to Stockholm in the form of drawings, prototypes in combination with final objects.

Bay outdoor collection by B&B Italia – Design Doshi Levien

Paper Planes by Moroso – Design Doshi Levien

Could you describe the entrance hall installation?
The exhibition space will be like a giant prototype, built with raw, honest and humble materials, locally sourced plywood and pine timber. In the fair there is already a lot of finished product, so we decided to reveal process so people can appreciate the creative journey behind a product. We have included the first prototype of the Paper Planes armchair for Moroso, the very first prototype that Patrizia Moroso saw in our studio when she came to London in 2010. She sat on the prototype and she said: “Yes, we will make it!”. For our exhibition in Stockholm we will show the projects for Moroso, Cappellini, Hay, Kettal, Kvadrat, B&B Italia, BD Barcelona, Nani Marquina.

Maya by Kvadrat – Design Doshi Levien

On the wall we will have 30 unpublished drawings from Nipa’s sketch book. The exhibition space reminds us of San Cataldo church in Palermo, with her intersecting vaulted ceilings. The architecture of Palermo’s churches really inspired us, you can’t help feeling a sense of awe with the scale and magnificence of these spaces and we love to bring together many and different cultural elements together in our projects. We are launching a collection with Kvadrat at Stockholm, an upholstered fabric called Jaali and a curtain fabric called Maya.

Jaali by Kvadrat – Design Doshi Levien

Do you still remember the first time when you met Patrizia Moroso?
The first time that we met Patrizia Moroso was in 2005. We needed to work in Italy, to work with companies that were willing to experiment and grant us creative freedom. We read an interview by Patrizia Moroso and we just loved her approach, her open mind, her capability to put together different and multicultural designers with complete freedom. We sent to her a beautiful pack with our portfolio and a letter. At that same moment, our Wallpaper Breakthrough Designers Award issue landed on her desk. She came to our London studio in January and loved our textile work from India. We launched the Charpoy collection in April at Salone 2007, after just a few months! Since then we decided to work with companies that have visionary creative leaders who have become family for us and we love our relationship with them. It really comes down to individuals who are prepared to invest in ideas and take risks.

Armada by Moroso – Design Doshi Levien

You are one of the most creative design studios, acclaimed for combining culture, technology, industrial design and true craftsmanship. Could you tell about your approach to a project?
When we met at the Royal College of Art we saw the opportunity to bring together our different design approaches, to create layers of cultural depth and technology. We both rejected a purist approach to design and we embraced plurality and layers of ideas. We want to create a world where there is an exchange of different cultures and where projects embody contrasting ideas. It is an open approach, when you look at our works you don’t see a unique style and you can’t immediately recognise our work because the approach is always different. Earth to Sky lighting is a very refined combination of industrial craftsmanship, whereas we also made textiles and some more narrative works.

Earth to Sky by Doshi Levien – Photo © Jonas Lindstrom

Sèvres Cabinet by Doshi Levien

Cala by Kettal – Design Doshi Levien

Could you tell about your different personalities? Sometime work together could be challenging…
We bring together a lot of contrast, friction, contradiction, tension, and that reflects something that exist between us. We have a very different way to work. For example, Nipa develops ideas through drawing, collage and sketching, while I find inspiration from making and the process itself, observing the materials. But at the beginning of every project we talk about the spirit we want the project to have, with the freedom and the partners that we choose.

Uchiwa by Hay – Design Doshi Levien

Which are your inspirational sources?
We believe that beauty is everywhere, if you know how to look for it. Theatres, architecture, textile markets, from Lina Bo Bardi buildings in San Paolo to temples in Delhi to Palermo’s churches. You can find inspiration in everything. But more than inspiration, the most important is what you do with these references, how you internalise and translate them into design ideas. Also inspiration comes from the process itself, it could be how a material behaves when trying something out. Materials respond in such unique ways, determining the outcome of a project. These could be very basic materials like paper, cardboard, but also textile and fabrics. It is surprising how we can transform these materials. We look forward to presenting this process during Stockholm Furniture and Light fair.

At what about your upcoming projects?
For Salone 2020 we are working on a new collection with Hay, also with Kettal, B&B Italia and Moroso. It is so nice to work consistently with companies over a long period. During the years you better understand not only what the company needs, but also what the people want and desire, so you can refine your projects in a successfully way. We choose a very few companies to work with and always with people we like.

Do you still have a project not yet realized?
We would like to design a living space, or a hotel. We have all the ingredients. Also I ride my motorbike all over London but it’s 20 years old and I need to find a replacement – says Jonathan – there are so many electric cars available now, but I can’t find one electric motorbike that I like.