Announcing the 2013 W Hotels Designers of the Future

Every June, the Designers of the Future Award is presented to a group of promising young studios that represent new directions in their field and exciting developments in broader design culture.

For the fourth year running, Design Miami/ and W Hotels have collaborated on this Award, which looks beyond pure product and furniture design to acknowledge pieces that push the limits of technology, discipline and concept.

Qualifying candidates must have created original works in the fields of furniture, lighting, craft, architecture and/or digital/electronic media. They must have been practicing for less than 15 years, and have produced a body of work that demonstrates originality and an interest in working in experimental, non-industrial or limited-edition design.

The winners this year, for the first time, were sent on-site to W Hotels around the world in order to address specific design issues, and will be showing their innovative solutions at this year’s Design Miami/ Basel 2013.

It’s with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the W Hotels Designers of the Future Award 2013!

Seung-Yong Song, a Seoul-based artist and designer who received both his BFA and MFA from the lauded École Supérieure d’Art et de Design in Reims, France, was born in 1978. His product and furniture design mixes forms and functions in ways that create new pathways – both in the viewer’s and user’s perception, and in the utility of the objects themselves. His is a style that is dreamlike, open, and defiant of traditional design logics. His pieces seem to answer unreal or otherworldly design problems.

Song worked as an artist’s assistant at the internationally renowned Claudio Colucci Studio. He’s also worked with Jean Marc GadyPatric Nadeau and Matt Sindall. Studying with this diverse cast of interior, furniture, and product designers has informed his practice and Song has gone on to develop his own unique vernacular as a result.

His work calls into the question the divisions between fine art, installation, and functionalism. While Song’s vocabulary is minimalistic, efficient, and often of a light, organic texture, they still manage to take on extremes. Height, hybridism, and poetics are accentuated in his work. He opened his studio in Seoul in 2011.

Born in 1983, Bethan Laura Wood is a designer with an impressive range – from jewelry, to ceramics, to furniture, to large-scale interventions – and she has a proven ability to integrate manifold material and methods. Wood received her degree from the Royal College of Art in 2009, where she studied under Jurgen Beyand Martino Gamper in the Design Products department. Bethan set up her own studio, WOOD London, that same year, and showcases her lighting and furniture ranges with Nilufar Gallery in Milan.

Wood’s pieces and projects have a special focus on the mundane, everyday objects that populate our modern existence. Her work is celebratory of these supposedly innocuous details, and explores new combinations by re-contextualizing them and presenting them as fresh visuals. Particularly through her uses of color and pattern, one can see that she derives her ideas from an near-infinite reservoir of objects.

With a keen interest in collecting (in the sense that she is a collector and is also interested in the mentality of the collector), Wood is captivated by the stuff that defines people’s lives. In turn, she has created work that is expansive yet locally defined, creating new connections where none existed before through extensive research and thoughtful execution.

Jon Stam is a Canadian-Dutch designer who was born in 1984. He studied design at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada, before moving to the Netherlands to study under Aldo BakkerJan Boelen and Ilse Crawford at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Stam’s work orbits the twin planets of the real and virtual. He graduated Eindhoven in 2008 with a project titled Curiosity Cabinet, which is a series of cabinets that not only store physical objects, but also contain embedded codes that link to digital information. His pieces are created with a craftsmanship that harkens pre-industrial methods, yet at the same time they integrate and communicate Internet-era verbiage.

Privileging quiet interaction over disruption, Stam’s projects take on a reflective mood. They are playful, but request serious consideration from their audience/ participants regarding time and space. His pieces evoke big questions about the constitution of people and the objects they interact with, but by using an aesthetic that is cleanly simple and modern, he’s able to do so in a way that is inclusive.

Each of these designers has already visited a W Hotel that is new or in the process of being renovated. Seung-Yong Song visited the W Hotel in Bangkok, which opened in December 2012, Bethan Laura Wood traveled to W Mexico City, which will complete a full renovation in 2014, and Jon Stam spent time in Verbier, where the W brand’s first ski retreat will open later this year.

We are very excited to see what will be shown by this eclectic group of designers at Design Miami/ Basel 2013!

Rob Goyanes