Wallpaper* and AHEC present Discovered at the Design Museum

Wallpaper* and AHEC present Discovered at the Design Museum

Ahead of the exhibition at the Design Museum (13 September-15 October 2021), we catch up with designers Tomoko Azumi, Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska, Nathan Yong and Adam Markowitz, the four mentors from Discovered, an initiative from Wallpaper* and AHEC to support the next generation of designers

Wallpaper* and AHEC announced Discovered, a platform to support design’s next generation, in October 2020. Fast forward to ten months later, and the group of 20 international designers from 16 countries have created a series of works that not only consider the structural and expressive qualities of American hardwood, but also explore how our everyday objects help us reconnect and combat isolation in a pandemic-hit, increasingly virtual world.

Created over several in-depth virtual meetings with four international mentors – Tomoko Azumi, Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska, Nathan Yong and Adam Markowitz – and manufacturing workshops in England, Portugal, Malaysia and Australia, the 20 projects are ready to be presented through an exhibition at London’s Design Museum (13 September-15 October 2021).

Design development and mentoring process

Wooden sculpture by Isabelle Baudraz with AHEC

‘Presences’, by Isabelle Baudraz, at WeWood, Portugal

With a focus on American red oak, maple and cherry, each designer created an object that responds to their unique experience of a pandemic world. Participants were invited to think freely about their experience of living and working in isolation, and to create a piece that represents the functional and emotional connections to our everyday objects. Through their projects, they explored their own personal and cultural background, or involved their families into the design process. The diverse inspirations for each piece came from everyday life and from a desire to connect with nature and the outdoors.

‘To me, this has been a process to discover what’s really going on in the design world. It was so fresh, and nice to meet with talented young designers,’ said Azumi, noting how working closely with the designers she mentored over several months resulted in a two-way exchange, allowing her to learn about her own design and craft as well. 

Wooden table by Vivienne Wong with AHEC
‘Iuxta Me’, by Vivienne Wong, at EvoStyle, Australia

Each mentor worked with five designers from a specific region, offering guidance through every step of the process up to the finished prototype. ‘I tried to question the status quo of their projects and really see how they could develop them: some were very super precise from the beginning in what they wanted,’ says Jeglinska-Adamczewska. A similar approach was shared by Markowitz: ‘a lot of them actually had very preconceived ideas, and one thing that I attempted to do is get them to get rid of those, and take a step back.’

Shown together for the first time in September 2021, the 20 projects form an exciting panorama of current emerging design thinking. ‘It’s been really meaningful, especially to re-asses what we have been doing as humankind: as designers, we have been churning out things, and I think we need to take this time to re evaluate what we are doing and what we have been contributing to society as a whole,’ says Yong. ‘So I thought this was a really good brief for the young designers to look at what they can give back to the world.’ §

Discovered: a sneak peek of the projects 


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