Design Icon: 10 Works by Jasper Morrison

Design Icon: 10 Works by Jasper Morrison

By Patrick Sisson
By striving for the “super normal,” the soft-spoken Jasper Morrison has made noise with his inclusive, intuitive design.

Jasper Morrison once spent four years designing a fork. While there’s plenty of personality traits you could assign to someone who spent the equivalent of a presidential administration obsessing over cutlery, sensitive may be the most fitting for the London-based designer. Since gaining notice alongside a generation of new British designers in the late ‘80s, Morrison has excelled at form and function without unnecessary flair. "Atmosphere" is a word he often uses to describe his work, and as the title of his 2005 exhibit with Naoto Fukasawa, "Super Normal," suggests, he strives for designs that don’t overturn conventional wisdom as much as evolve, taking a classic role and improving upon the delivery. Design should always be better than what came before, he says.

Critic Charles Arthur Boyer described the Jasper Morrison's designer style and philosophy as aiming to "produce everyday objects for everyone's use, make things lighter not heavier, softer not harder, inclusive rather than exclusive, and generate energy, light, and space."

Morrison recalls a room in his grandfather’s home, a Scandinavian-style study with a Dieter Rams Snow White’s Coffin Record player, as a formative influence that steered him towards studying furniture design at Kingston Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art in London. As he began to design and in some cases manufacture his own pieces—beginning with the Office for Design in London and projects for Vitra, Magis, and Cappellini, among others—he also documented his thought process and perspective at shows such as "A World Without Words" in Milan. While aiming for simplicity in and of itself isn’t revolutionary design, Morrison’s pursuit and products, such as the Air Armchair, suggest it’s anything but easy.

Flower Pot Table (1984)

A striking example of Morrison’s philosophy that there aren’t necessarily new forms, just new ways to combine and recontextualize what's come before, this self-explanatory piece was assembled in an almost ready-made fashion. Supposedly, Morrison would jet around town on a motorbike in the mid ‘80s, visiting small workshops and asking them to fabricate whatever he needed for his latest project.

Progetto Oggetto Candle Holders (1992)

Morrison and collaborator James Irvine, a friend from college, unveiled this influential line of home goods for Cappellini at the 1992 furniture fair in Milan, making a strong case for pure, minimalist design. In addition to re-investigating the form and function of everyday objects, it also featured the work of then up-and-coming designers such as Tom Dixon and Konstantin Grcic.

Bottle (1994)

This simple plastic-and-aluminum bottle rack, designed with a small footprint and made to be easily stacked, is about as straightforward and crowd-pleasing as a bottle of good cheap merlot.

Hannover Tram System (1997)

Morrison was awarded a contract to redesign the tram system for Hannover, a half-billion Deutschemark project, and not only did he succeed, but the industrial designer won awards for his new transport system.

Low Pad Chair (1999)

Morrison claims the padding of his girlfriend’s Prada loafers inspired the design of this chair, which is now in the Tate Modern. The tubular steel base supports an upholstered polyurethane foam back that can covered in a variety of fabrics and colors.

Air Chair (2005)

Deceptively straightforward, Morrison’s Air Chair, a playful, mass-produced design classic in air moulded polypropylene and glass fibre, has incredible range for such a seemingly simple piece.

ATM System (2002)

A far cry from the standard-issue functional, flaccid cubicle, Morrison’s ATM System brought stylish curves and wooden accents to the modular office life.

Roppongi Hills Bench (2003)

One of Tokyo’s most exclusive addresses, Roppongi Hills merges high-end real estate with glittering public art and design by the likes of Ron Arad and Shigeru Uchida. Morrison, one of a handful of designers asked to contribute public benches to the project, created an extended functional public bench out of Japanese cypress.

Wall Clock (2008)

It’s fitting the Morrison would team up with Muji, the Japanese brand famous worldwide for its understated, minimal design. In addition to creating projects such as this wall clock, he also co-authored a book for Rizzoli offering a glimpse at the company’s products and philosophy.

Lotus Lounge Chair (2006)

Like a fusion between his Low Pad design and the classic Eames model, this sleek lounge chair dressed up the upholstered foam backing for the board room.

Shop Jasper Morrison's Designs
Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary
Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa have compiled 204 everyday objects in search of super normal design: alongside examples of anonymous design, there are design classics like by Jacobsen, Rams, Bill or Noguchi.
Vitra Rotary Tray
The Rotary Tray is a contemporary rendering of the classic etagere by Jasper Morrison. Thanks to its simple shape and subtle colors, the Rotary Tray complements any interior style and lends itself to many different uses.
Emeco Alfi Low-Back Chair
Born in England, Jasper Morrison was raised in both Germany and the United States before his family settled in London, where he attended Kingston College School of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art.
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