The China List: Benjamin Hubert, Industrial Design
Wallpaper* and China’s Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development Fund (CHSDF) present China By Design—a celebration of Chinese cultural heritage and the many global creatives who have been inspired by it. Explore the full list here.
Benjamin Hubert’s London-based Layer is one of a new breed of design studios, blending creative thinking with strategy, communications and a solid 360-degree understanding of a brand. Layer spans both physical and digital design: ‘We are inspired by how people are living, working, communicating, travelling and consuming products, now and in the future,’ says the British designer.
From creating new seating concepts for Airbus (the lightweight ‘Move’ prototype, which uses smart fabrics and app-driven ergonomics) to the ‘GO’ wheelchair, with 3D-printed elements for greater personalisation and comfort, every Layer design addresses every aspect of the process. ‘Our focus is on creating meaningful experiences driven by extensive strategic research and human behaviours,’ says Hubert. ‘It’s how we identify insights to drive the next opportunity for our partners.’
Client and collaborators include a host of forward-thinking global brands, such as Nike, Google, Bang & Olufsen, Samsung and Vitra, while research touches on AI, wearables, wireless technology and an emphasis on simplicity and purity of form and function, with the human-centric experience at its heart. ‘Layer works extensively in China with some of the world’s foremost brands and production facilities,’ says Hubert. ‘This gives us opportunity to work at the bleeding edge of technology to create the highest performing products and services.’
Recent work includes PAL, an evolution of the urban scooter as a ‘last mile’ travel device for the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Nio. Designed to synch with your device and provide a seamless connection from mass transit to your ultimate destination, the device uses graphene and carbon fibre. ‘As industrial designers we look to partner with visionaries that have the shared foresight and ambition to create the next meaningful step in improving how we live now and next,’ says Hubert. ‘We find this in abundance in China.’§