The issue of dynamics in design has become a theme in the ongoing collaboration between the two British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra. This is demonstrated by several of the company's new products, such as the Mariposa Sofa, whose flexibly tilting side and back elements offer superior comfort; the Planophore shelving system, with rotating vertical panels that transform it into a room divider; or the twirling bar stool Zeb.
The Mariposa Sofa radiates an inviting aura of spacious comfort - and yet maintains a subtly understated presence thanks to its balanced proportions. The sofa owes its extraordinary comfort, on the one hand, to the pleasantly soft upholstery, which completely surrounds the sitter and prevents contact with any hard structural elements. On the other hand, an ingenious adjustment mechanism makes it possible to individually tilt the side and backrest elements for various sitting or reclining positions. The Mariposa Sofa does not openly display this function: the slim side and back elements can be continuously and silently adjusted, from an upright position to an outward angle of approximately 30° and back again.
Planophore is a dual-purpose room divider and book shelf. The vertical aluminium panels are Planophore's most striking structural feature: they can be rotated to serve as functional shelf dividers. When the slightly asymmetrical dividers are positioned parallel to the shelves, Planophore becomes a partition element; set perpendicularly, they divide the shelves into varying compartments to accommodate books and similar objects; if just a few panels are turned in a parallel direction, they provide a background for decorative objects.
The Wood Table exudes an aura of subtle elegance: made of solid wood, its construction achieves maximum stability with a minimum of structural elements. Its legs are horizontally connected by strong aluminium bridges that ensure the table's stability and prevent the frameless solid wood top from warping. The rounded edges on the bottom of the table top are not just a gesture of added comfort, they give the table top an especially slender appearance, thus emphasising the elegance of the overall design.
The Wood Bench is similarly robust, with features that correspond to the Wood Table. The two pieces make an ideal pairing, but thanks to the bench's archetypal form it can also be attractively combined with other tables or as a solo piece.
Bar stools are often designed as part of a family of chairs. The Zeb Stool, by contrast, was designed to fulfil the specific purpose of a bar stool: every individual component is precisely developed in the best quality for its designated function. The name Zeb refers to Zebedee, the twirling jack-in-the-box character from the BBC children's television series ‘The Magic Roundabout'.
Barber & Osgerby
Barber and Osgerby’s research-led practice has developed collections for Vitra, B&B Italia, Venini, Cappellini, Magis, Swarovski, Flos and Established & Sons, whilst also producing edition furniture and one-off works for both private and public commissions. Both Honorary Doctors of Arts, Barber and Osgerby have lectured internationally and hosted workshops at Ecal, Switzerland, and the Vitra Design Museum. Their work is held in permanent collections around the world including the V&A Museum, London; New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; London’s Design Museum; and the Art Institute of Chicago.