Formafantasma and Dozie Kanu win the 2018 Hublot Design Prize

Formafantasma and Dozie Kanu win the 2018 Hublot Design Prize

When it came to picking a winner, the panel at this year’s Hublot Design Prize was split – so split, in fact, that its six judges decided to divide the prize. Amsterdam studio Formafantasma and rising furniture-design star Dozie Kanu were awarded CHF 50,000 each at this month’s ceremony in Basel.

Rather than give rising talent a platform, the Hublot Design Prize specifically sets out to give relatively established designers a boost. Thus, it has carved out its niche since it launched in 2015. This year’s panel included Pierre Keller, chairman of the Contemporary Art Centre in Geneva; Marva Griffin Wilshire, founder of Salone Satellite; furniture designer Ronan Bouroullec; Lapo Elkann, founder of Italia Independent; Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of London’s Serpentine Gallery; and gallerist Libby Sellers.

Formafantasma and Kanu take an approach to materials that chimes with Hublot’s own enthusiasm for fabric experimentation. As Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe says: ’Our Design Prize specifically rewards innovative and extraordinary experimental projects that illustrate innovative materials, techniques and technologies.’

Brooklyn-based Kanu is a case in point. Combining both high and low materials in his skewed industrial chairs and tables, recent pieces include a poured concrete bench anchored by polished chrome wheel rims, a marble stool capped with the corrugated shell of a Rimowa suitcase – part of a collaboration at this year’s Salone del Mobile – and an aluminium-framed chair padded with foamy recycled plastics.

Formafantasma’s Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, meanwhile, were recognised for their ‘design with conviction’, such as their multi-sensory installations and, most recently, their ‘Ore Streams’ project for the National Gallery of Victoria, investigating alternative means of recycling electronic materials.

Other designers who were contenders for the Prize this year included Brazilian architect Guto Requena, who experiments in bringing emotional connection to digital technologies, Eindhoven-based jewellery designer Jing He And French graphics artist Thibault Brevet. §

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