First Look: W Hotels Designers of the Future Projects Debut at Design Miami/Basel

‘Tis the season for Art Basel, which runs through Sunday in Basel, Switzerland. After yesterday’s private preview, Design Miami/Basel opened to the public today with a roster of 40 participating galleries that includes first-time exhibitors such as New York’s Salon 94, Heritage Gallery from Moscow, and Paris-based Galerie Dutko. The fair also marks the debut of freshly commissioned works by the 2012 W Hotels Designers of the Future: Tom Foulsham (United Kingdom), Markus Kayser (Germany), and Philippe Malouin (Canada). Inaugurated in 2006, the award honors “up-and-coming designers and studios that are expanding the field of design.” This year’s winners were challenged to create work that sheds light on their own creative process. With the theme “From Spark to Finish,” the brief was to demonstrate how the spark of inspiration evolves into material designs through projects will involve an interactive element. Here’s a first look at what each of them came up with…

(Photos courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

London-based Tom Foulsham, whose resume includes stints in the practices of both Thomas Heatherwick and Ron Arad, created “Go-Round,” which balances on a single sharpened point. The device attempts to visualize the small, usually unseen forces—sparks of energy—that are produced by simple acts such as breathing. Visitors can propel themselves with everyday objects, including hairdryers or fans, or by simply exhaling. Foulsham describes his project as “delicately balanced, nothing fixed, a point of rest, just at the edge of slipping apart.” We like the “balloon dress” option:

Markus Kayser, who last year earned a masters in arts and design from the Royal College of Art, is interested in producing design that involves new as well as forgotten processes and technologies. In Basel, he unveiled “LIGHTzeit” (below), which explores how natural light constantly changes through motion, intensity, and color rendering, while most artificial light sources are entirely static. The installation resembles the tubular lights that are ubiquitous in offices and public spaces, but his version constantly, but unnoticeably, travels in a 24-hour cycle, 360-degrees around its axle like clockwork. While the position of the light changes, the light’s qualities adjust in color temperature and intensity throughout the day. The user can set the place and time of day by an interactive switch in the form of an abstract world globe.

Educated at at the University of Montréal, the ENSCI in Paris, and the Design Academy Eindhoven, Philippe Malouin also interpreted the brief through a light installation. His “Daylight” (below) consists of a series of lamps or artificial windows inspired by plantation shutters. The shutters are secured to a bare wall and contain an artificial light source. Each slat is lined with LEDs that replicate the color temperature of daylight. The light emitted is reflected back from the wall on which the window is mounted to produce the impression that a real window lies behind. The shapes of the lamps are based on the Chinese puzzle know as the Tangram, a set of geometric shapes whose common proportions allow the lamps to be arranged in multiple, complementary configurations. Also on display from Malouin are a selection of drawings along with failed and working prototypes and photos that map out the design process timeline from the “spark” of the initial concept to “finished” design.