Isaac Simpson: Wallpaper* Next Generation 2021
Our Next Generation 2021 showcase shines a light on 21 outstanding graduates from around the globe, Wallpaper’s pick of the best new talent in seven creative fields. Here, we profile Bartlett School of Architecture graduate Isaac Simpson.
Isaac Simpson’s master’s graduation project and thesis explore important ideas of race, power and identity. His inspiration? ‘I watched the satire documentary The Black Safari, by Horace Ové,’ he recalls. ‘It basically takes the traditional white exploration of the “dark continent” and reverses it. With both playful imagination and serious resolution, it really called to question the British narratives of “us” and “them” and “white” and “Black”.’
In a similar way, Simpson’s work looks at the British landscape through the African gaze by designing a ‘vessel’ that travels across the Scottish Highlands, sparking conversations and challenging ideas around land ownership. His project scooped the Bartlett Architecture Medal for 2020. Now, the graduate is in Bordeaux collaborating with an artisan on a commission for a large ‘painting-cum-sculpture kind of piece’ and exploring the edges of architecture.
He does look forward to returning to London though, which he feels is essential for him ‘to grow.’ Fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner is one of Simpson’s dream collaborators. ‘Grace’s work is important to me because of her exploration of the Black(ish) identity as disobedient to the conventional binaries of white and Black, masculine and feminine,’ he explains.
Architecture’s ability to construct cross-cultural dialogues is a key source of inspiration for Simpson. ‘I would love to work with other creatives who are experimenting with the British(ish) and/or Black(ish) identity within form – from architects like Asif Khan to fashion designers like Wales Bonner or Samuel Ross, or a musician like FKA Twigs.’ §