When Barber Osgerby met Giulio Cappellini

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby tell Wallpaper* about working with design visionary Giulio Cappellini, Guest Editor of our October 2023 issue

Barber Osgerby Cappellini
Left, archive image of the ‘Loop’ table by Barber Osgerby at Wallpaper’s stand at 100% Design, London, in 1997. Right, Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber, photographed at Isokon Plus Workshop in the 1990s
(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

The story of designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's collaboration with Cappellini is rooted in Wallpaper* mythology: 'I saw a beautiful bentwood coffee table in Wallpaper's booth at a trade show in 1997, and I immediately knew I wanted to work with these amazing designers,' says Giulio Cappellini, who that day discovered the studio's Isokon table that started a fruitful collaboration with the designers. 

White low tabe by Barber Osgerby for Cappellini

‘Minibottle’ by Barber Osgerby for Cappellini

(Image credit: Courtesy Cappellini)

'Their design language is elegant and their objects timeless. In fact, after many years, their products are still absolutely contemporary. I really like “Minibottle”, a small ceramic table, for the skilful use of the material.'

Here, Barber Osgerby tell us about the beginning of their work with Cappellini, and how the collaboration has helped shape the studio's direction. 

Barber Osgerby and Cappellini: interview

Barber Osgerby Cappellini

‘Loop’ table

(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

Wallpaper*: How did you meet Giulio Cappellini?

Barber Osgerby: We first met Giulio Cappellini in 1997 at the London trade show, 100% Design. We’d only recently designed the ‘Loop’ table for Isokon and were approached by Wallpaper* magazine – which had itself only come into being a short while earlier – to exhibit with them. We offered to design the magazine’s booth, on the basis that the ‘Loop’ table would be positioned on the stand. [Founding Wallpaper* editor-in-chief] Tyler Brûlé was a huge supporter of our work and it was fitting that we were both starting something at the same time.

Barber Osgerby Cappellini

‘Loop’ desk by Barber Osgerby for Cappellini

(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

On the Saturday, we went to the show together to meet Tyler at the booth and coincidentally Giulio Cappellini and Jasper Morrison happened to walk past. Tyler introduced us and Giulio expressed his love for the table, saying ‘I have to have it in my collection’. We were dumbfounded. It was a tremendously exciting moment for us, as he is such a hero of ours. It felt like an incredible coming together: everything in the right place at the right time.

The following April, Giulio took the ‘Loop’ table to Milan.

Barber Osgerby and Giulio Cappellini with sofa in warehouse

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby with Giulio Cappellini, working on the ‘Filo’ sofa, a 2009 design manufactured by Cappellini for a private commission

(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

W*: What did you most enjoy about working with him?

Barber Osgerby: A man of rare passion and intuition, Giulio has an affinity for design that most people don’t come close to - a deep and instinctive understanding of what is right and what isn't, of what is needed and what isn't. This mastery is reinforced by a zeal to get stuff done and not allow obstacles. He is also just a genuinely lovely soul of the industry.

Barber Osgerby Cappellini

Filo sofa

(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

W*: How has your collaboration with Cappellini helped shape your studio/career?

B&O: Giulio has been our gateway to Italy - a country that has become the most significant cultural centre for us. When Giulio chooses to work with you, others can't help but take notice. He has given us valuable exposure and opportunities to learn and grow. His influence has been truly transformative.

Barber Osgerby Cappellini

(Image credit: Courtesy Barber Osgerby)

W*: What is your vision about future landscapes in private and public interiors?

Barber Osgerby: The lines between work and life have steadily blurred in recent times, propelled by the rise of the freelance economy and the dominance of the service industry. As a result, we now have the freedom to choose where we work and this has led to a fascinating convergence of environments. Public spaces are increasingly transforming into bustling workspaces, whose emphasis is not solely on productivity, but also on fostering a sense of community and social engagement. These dynamic spaces are designed to be flexible and multifunctional, catering to diverse needs.

Simultaneously, the interiors of our private spaces are undergoing significant evolution. Our homes are becoming a counterpoint to the workplace – more intimate and more personal, filled with meaningful objects and memories, some collected over time, others inherited, which create atmosphere and a sense of homeliness.

This merging of work and life, in conjunction with the transformation of the public and private realms, represents a paradigm shift in how we perceive and interact with our surroundings. It highlights our desire for greater flexibility, connectivity, balance and harmony across our professional and personal lives.


The October 2023 issue of Wallpaper* is available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.