Origin stories are de rigueur these days when it comes to design; it’s almost not enough to simply see a finished piece without also knowing the details of how it came to be. This year at Design Miami, W Hotels incorporated this narrative theme into its third annual Designer of the Future award, given to three up-and-comers who embody the brand’s design-as-experience spirit. The recipients--Markus Kayser, Philippe Malouin, and Tom Foulsham--were tasked with creating pieces around the concept “From Spark to Finish,” with the goal to illuminate part of their methods in the final works.
“We wanted to turn the lens in on the process itself,” Mike Tiedy, W’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Design and Innovation, tells Co.Design. Considering the polished results, it’s impressive that the designers had only about a month’s notice to create the custom works, having received word of the nod during Milan’s Design Week in April then presenting these projects in Basel this month. The open-ended brief was intended to elicit disparate results. “We’re looking for people who aren’t following a typical path,” Tiedy says. “We appreciate their experimental nature.”
Both Kayser and Malouin played upon the “spark” aspect with lighting projects: LIGHTzeit is an installation that elegantly explores the connection between nature and technology, with fixtures that revolve to mimic the path of the sun (more about it here); Daylight transforms the vernacular of plantation-style shutters into a series of geometric Tanagram shapes, displayed alongside drawings, prototypes, and pictures that further illuminate the progression of the idea from conception to completion. The generation of energy acted as Foulsham’s muse, and his Go-Round is a bit more esoteric--a balancing device, sturdy enough to hold the weight of two adults, that is also agile enough to be triggered into rotation with nothing more than a powerful exhale.
Now that they’ve debuted, the works will make their way to W properties worldwide, popping up in conjunction with design week activities, lectures, and events. And you can expect to see more collaborations between the brand and the designers themselves. “More and more we’re trying to bring them in as we have hotels being built. We want to use their talents to come up with new ideas," Tiedy says. "That’s our ultimate goal--to involve them in actually crafting the identity for these hotels.”