Meet the Dwell 24: Two Dozen Up-and-Coming Designers to Watch in 2018

Drawing from countless submissions, innumerable visits to fairs and galleries, and—yes—Instagram, we bring together two dozen of the most promising creatives and duos, 35 and younger, who are testing the limits of art and design.
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Marlo Kara and Isaure Bouyssonie

Location: Tunis, Tunisia | Instagram: @marloisaure

Marlo & Isaure’s handmade, cone-shaped Kheops paperweights come in five shades of Tunisian marble. 

Franco-Tunisian Isaure Bouyssonie, 30, and Swiss-Greek Marlo Kara, 28, settled near Tunis after graduating from ECAL to be closer to the craftspeople who manufacture much of their work. Their studio, Marlo & Isaure, has gained success for both their own Mediterranean inflected designs and those of a growing number of international talents whose work they also produce. "We are the link between designers and manufacturers," Bouyssonie says. Beyond their own creations, they’re currently collaborating on an armchair with Tunisian designer Ashref Chichini and a series of cushions by Swiss graphic and tattoo studio Happypets. —Dora Vanette

Kusheda Mensah

Location: London, England | Instagram: @modularbymensah

Kusheda Mensah’s configurable seating collection, Mutual, features 20 abstract upholstered shapes designed to foster social interaction.

Large abstract forms zigzag, curve, and tumble in captivating shades of ochre, ivory, and powder blue, like oversized building blocks, in Kusheda Mensah’s debut furniture collection. Mutual, released this year, is a 20-piece set of modular upholstered seating that invites playful experimentation and promotes interpersonal connection. This is what the Ghanian-British designer hopes all her work will inspire. "I want my pieces to encourage human relationships and socialization," says Mensah, who is troubled by the rifts social media has caused in how we bond. Mensah, 27, holds a degree in surface design from University of the Arts, London, and works both independently and collaboratively from her studio in East London. —Tiffany Orvet

See the Q&A and video with Kusheda Mensah

Sara Jaafar

Location: Beirut, Lebanon | Instagram: @1millimetre

The copper cube-shaped Tilt candleholder by Sara Jaafar appears to balance on a corner.

After studying at the AA School in London, Sara Jaafar, 32, went to work at Heatherwick Studio. "They were working on 27,000-square-foot projects," she recalls. "It was a great experience, but I felt I had to move back to the scale that I really loved." In 2014, she returned to Beirut, where she had lived after growing up in Nigeria, and founded 1millimetre studio (the name is a reference to her attention to detail). Following her first furniture line—which included the flat-pack, leather-and-copper-tubing Drape chair—Jaafar is now designing pod hotel rooms in north Lebanon. Her primary material? Terrazzo embedded with shards of glass gathered from nightclubs, in response to Beirut’s garbage crisis. —DV

Jae Yang

Location: Seoul, South Korea | Instagram: @umzikim

A collaboration between Jae Yang’s two studios, UMZIKIM and Hattern, the multicolor Mellow vase line has a gauzy, transparent finish.

Maybe it’s not surprising that Jae Yang, 30, is skeptical of borders: His grandfather slipped south across the 38th Parallel during the Korean War, and he’s spent large parts of his life hopping from South Korea to British Columbia to Italy and back again. Yang, who studied aerospace and mechanical engineering at Seoul National University before interning at the Samsung Design Center in Milan, started his own studio in 2011 to erode the barriers between disciplines. "Realizing that there is no solid boundary between design and engineering, I founded UMZIKIM, meaning ‘a movement’ in Korean, to define how engineers can design," he says. The studio’s output, including an eye-shaped steel mirror and a series of Impressionist-inspired acrylic vases created in conjunction with his other venture, Hattern, has been shown at SaloneSatellite, Rossana Orlandi Gallery, and ICFF. —Eleni Andris

Jennie Adén

Location: Stockholm, Sweden |  Instagram: @jennieaden

Designed by Jennie Adén with Hanna Stenström, the wool Fortuna armchair borrows its shape and name from the Chinese fortune cookie.

For Jennie Adén, there’s no need to hunt the globe for ideas. Her inspiration is rooted in the organic materials she finds close to home. "‘Dig where you stand’ is the principle that drives me," explains Adén, 26. "Which materials and techniques should we be using to benefit from our own natural resources in a sustainable way?" To answer this, Adén looks to the forested idyll in western Sweden where she grew up, collecting and experimenting with wool, slate, polypore fungus, elk skin, and more to create blankets, lamps, and hearths that put provenance on display. Organic matter was the focus of her 2018 graduate project at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, "Down to Earth," and can be seen in her work for Crooked Concept, Svenskt Tenn, and others. —TO

Hanna Anonen

Location: Helsinki, Finland | Instagram: @hannaanonen

Hanna Anonen’s plastic, waterproof Ripsiraita mat is inspired by the stripes and
patterns of rag rugs.

Since graduating in 2013 with a master’s from Aalto University in applied art and design, Hanna Anonen, 29, has worked with Arabia, Iittala, and Hakola, as well as with Helsinki Design Week. Her pieces entice with their playful simplicity and curious medley of colors, such as her Cocktail light, which was inspired by the swirling ingredients of mixed drinks. "I’m influenced by everyday life, observing and recording the accidental color combinations in my surroundings," says Anonen. She was nominated for Nordic Designer of the Year by Formex, won gold among young creatives in Grafia’s Best of the Year contest, and holds additional degrees in industrial design and in carpentry and cabinetmaking. —TO

See the Q&A and video with Hanna Anonen

Ayako Aratani and Evan Fay

Location: Pontiac, Michigan | Instagram: @aratani_fay

Designed by Ayako Aratani—one half of the practice Aratani Fay—the porcelain Click-Clock has no digits, only sculpted lines for reading the time.

Ayako Aratani, 34, and Evan Fay, 29, are studio partners determined to go their own ways. Aratani’s Roommate lamp, which has a cloud-like shade of bent wire, and Fay’s Lawless sofa, a rigid framework woven with foam ribbons, aren’t obvious companions. But when the designers met at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, they discovered they had similar interests despite stylistic differences: a desire to break from the rigors of industrial design, make things by hand, and celebrate incongruities. Since graduating in 2016, they’ve shared a Detroit-area studio and resources while maintaining individual authorship of their creations. "All production for our pieces is done by both of us, and we show together under the name Aratani Fay," says Fay. "But our products are different." —Tim McKeough

See the Q&A and video with Ayako Aratani and Evan Fay

Eny Lee Parker

Location: Brooklyn, New York | Instagram: @enyleeparker

Eny Lee Parker's hand-formed ceramic Oo lamp has a sculptural quality that distinguishes her furniture and lighting. 

Eny Lee Parker’s first love was art. But as a teenager, she painted a picture of a bathroom so compelling that her high school teacher suggested she might want to think about designing spaces instead. That set Parker, 29, who was born in Brazil, down the path to studying interior and furniture design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Since establishing her studio in New York in 2017, Parker has been turning out plump, sculptural furniture and lighting with hand-formed ceramics, like the Oo floor lamp, which sprouts glass globes from two upturned trunks and helped her win this year’s ICFF Editors’ Award for emerging designer. —TM

Inès Bressand

Location: Marseille, France | Instagram: @inesbressand

The pleated-leather Kona sofa by Inès Bressand is the first piece of
soft furniture made
by Mabeo. 

After completing her master’s at the Design Academy Eindhoven, French designer Inès Bressand, 29, moved to Ghana for three months to explore the possibilities of straw in building, the subject of her thesis. What she found was an abundance of skilled craftspeople and new ideas. The result? Her sculptural Akamae bag collection, made of elephant grass. Bressand has worked similarly with weavers in India and potters in Provence. "As I share workshops, there’s a human connection, rich in cultural background and discussions," she says. Her most recent work is a line of industrial-looking, galvanized sheet metal lamps for Botswana-based furniture maker Mabeo. —TO

Salman Jawed

Location: Karachi, Pakistan | Instagram: @j.salman

Inspired by a children’s toy top, the Lattoo stool, designed by Salman Jawed, actually spins on its stand.  

Architect Salman Jawed, 32, founded Coalesce in 2008 with fellow graduates from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. The multidisciplinary firm made a name for itself at Dubai Design Days in 2015 with its installation Daalaan, an "abstract courtyard inspired by our childhood games," says Jawed. For the space, he contributed Lattoo, a rosewood stool in the shape of a spinning top that gained widespread praise. But their proudest project to date has been the creation of the first National Pavilion of Pakistan for the Venice Biennale, in 2018. Coalesce not only designed and built it; they also raised funds, since there was no support from the Pakistan government. "It was an amazing feeling to make history," he says. —Camille Rankin

Hiroto Yoshizoe

Location: Tokyo, Japan | Instagram: @hirotoyoshizoe

Hiroto Yoshizoe's Plants-Skin planters use hydrochromic ink to reveal underlying color in the ceramic when the soil inside is dry.

A graduate of Tokyo’s Musashino Art University, designer Hiroto Yoshizoe, 32, balances commissions for hotels and restaurants with personal forays into product design. In 2017, he was Grand Prix winner of the Lexus Design Award for PIXEL, a wall of hollow building blocks that channel and transform light. The year before, he was a finalist for Plants-Skin, a ceramic planter that changes color when the soil is dry. "I had a mortar pot, and I knew when to water my plant by how wet the mortar was," he says of the idea’s genesis. To get a similar effect, Yoshizoe used hydrochromic ink, which he knew about from his family’s bookbindery business. "I enjoy exploring innovative materials," he says, "but I like having an analog dimension. Technology is important only in the engagement it allows the design to have with people." —CR

See the Q&A and video with Hiroto Yoshizoe

Jose Villa Sene and Raiko Valladares

Location: Havana, Cuba | Instagram: #villasene / @raikovalladares

The Emptiness chair, one of multiple seats in Raiko Valladares and Jose Villa Sene’s Vibra line, is inspired partly by string instruments. 

"Industrial design has been depressed in Cuba for a long time," says architect Jose Villa Sene, 30. For more than half a century, U.S. trade restrictions have limited the field’s development. Like their peers, Villa—now based part-time in Florida—and his former Instituto Superior de Diseño classmate, Raiko Valladares, 30, have had to adapt. Case in point: their Vibra chairs. The pieces are composed of suizas, the colorful, humidity-resistant, and highly elastic PVC-cords that crisscross Havana in the form of clotheslines, here hand-woven around recycled steel frames. The original design called for hard-to-source aluminum, but the duo learned to do without. —Eileen Smith

Quincy Ellis

Location: Brooklyn, New York | Instagram: @facture_studio

Quincy Ellis cofounded Facture Studio to explore color-shifting, molded epoxy resin designs, like the Gradient console. 

Quincy Ellis, 31, had spent years fabricating art for talents such as Fernando Mastrangelo when he came to a realization: "I didn’t think there was enough being done with resin." So Ellis, an industrial designer who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, founded Facture Studio in 2015 along with Nebojsa "Shoba" Sheric, an artist from Sarajevo. Since then, he and his partner have been developing tables, shelves, and wall pieces with simple geometries that exploit multiple layers, saturations, and opacities of resin. "We’re still so intrigued by resin’s Popsicle properties," says Ellis. —TM

See the Q&A and video with Quincy Ellis

Marisa Müsing and Álvaro Gómez-Sellés

Location: Queens, New York | Instagram: @musingselles

Álvaro Gómez-Sellés and Marisa Müsing, known jointly as Müsing–Sellés, created a portly plywood cocktail table, coated in reflective aubergine gloss, as part of their new line.

Don’t ask Álvaro Gómez-Sellés and Marisa Müsing to design just a chair. The New York architects, who met while working at the architecture firm SO – IL, design groups of furniture in which pieces "converse" with one another. "We never design a single piece," says Gómez-Sellés, 29, who grew up in Spain. "We always design sets to create a theatrical environment." Even then, their creations rarely reveal their purpose at first glance. Set No. 5, a trio of plump, toothy objects, appears to be just sheeny pedestals until you move in for a closer look and discover that they’re a cocktail table, minibar, and small wardrobe made of plywood covered in gradient car paint gloss. Müsing, 24, who grew up in Canada, says it’s all about the search for something new: "We’re trying to abstract pieces from their expected forms and concepts." —TM

David Pompa

Location: Mexico City, Mexico | Instagram: @studiodavidpompa

The Can light by David Pompa is housed in a lustrous ceramic casing made of barro negro, a Mexican clay that turns smoky black when fired. 

David Pompa, 32, started in lighting design in his mother’s native Austria but found his muse in his father’s homeland of Mexico. On a trip to Oaxaca following his studies at Kingston University in London, Pompa was introduced to barro negro, a clay that turns black when fired and has been used since pre-Columbian times. "We took that material, which has incredible texture and shine, and used it in a minimalist form," says Pompa, who now works with more than 60 local artisans to fashion lights out of all sorts of traditional materials, from onyx to volcanic cantera rosa. Last year, his studio became the first Mexican brand to show at Euroluce in Milan. —ES

Rich Mnisi

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa | Instagram: @rich_mnisi

Rich Mnisi’s sinuous chaise lounge is wrapped in
navy-colored leather.

South African designer Rich Mnisi, 25, has already made a name for himself in the world of runway fashion with his irreverent, pop-inspired garments. This year, he ventured into furniture with a navy leather chaise and bronze-and-leather stool. Titled Nwa-Mulamula, after his late great-grandmother, the two-piece, limited-edition line is conceptually tied to Mnisi’s latest fashion collection. The organic form of the chaise represents the physical presence of the matriarch, while the stool, shaped like an eye suspended over a golden puddle, stands for her tears. For Mnisi, the collection, presented as part of Southern Guild’s "Extra Ordinary" show, is only the beginning of a more definitive foray into the home. —DV

Vlasta Kubušová and Miroslav Král

Location: Berlin, Germany / Bratislava, Slovakia 

Instagram: @crafting_plastics

Crafting Plastics! Studio pioneered an eco-friendly "bioplastic" to create a series of round,
hand-crafted light fixtures called Collection 4. The shaggy strands of material were dyed using plant pigments.  

The plastic in a typical water bottle can take more than 450 years to degrade, clogging landfills and waterways. Working with scientists at the Slovak University of Technology, designers Vlasta Kubušová, 29, and Miroslav Král, 32, have cut that timeframe down to around 90 days. The duo, who are based in Bratislava and Berlin, launched Crafting Plastics! Studio in 2016 to explore oil-free "bioplastics," using renewable resources like corn starch. Across four collections, Kubušová and Král have found various product applications for their material innovations. For their Kickstarted debut, they 3D-printed a line of bioplastic eyeware. The collection was a finalist for the Slovak National Prize for Design. —TO

Mei-Lan Tan and Victor Lefebvre

Location: Oakland, California | Instagram:

Each of the 104 bowls in UMÉ Studio’s Concrete collection is unique, but all of them feature delicate edges rendered in hand-poured concrete.

Although UMÉ Studio is based in California, the story of its founders, Mei-Lan Tan, 28, and Victor Lefebvre, 32, is international in scope. "Mei-Lan has Indonesian and Chinese roots. I’m French and I studied and lived in Japan," Victor says, adding that their lifestyles are still itinerant. "Oakland is the place where we stop and regroup." The duo, who met while working in Basel for Herzog & de Meuron, established their practice in 2016. Since then, they’ve expanded their network of collaborators, producing sculptural soaps, concrete serving trays that look like giant buttons, and more. Now they are developing a line of silver cups with Indonesian artisans. "We spent time in Bali understanding the local crafts and the silver vessels they use to hold holy water," says Mei-Lan. "These items have very specific intentions of use: one item, one action." —DV

See our Q&A and video with UMÉ Studio

Agustina Bottoni

Location: Milan, Italy | Instagram: @agustina.bottoni

Agustina Bottoni’s handmade Calici Milanesi line consists of
three visually striking cocktail glasses inspired by a villa designed by Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi.

Argentinian designer Agustina Bottoni, 34, spent years working in fashion before shifting her focus to product design and settling in Italy. Since starting her practice in 2016, she has produced a diverse body of work—from a series of mobile-like kinetic vases to a collection of sculptures that incorporate brass wind chimes. "Sound is a feature that is mostly overlooked in design," Bottoni says. "We are immersed in the digital world, so it is quite refreshing to have objects that we can experience through our less-used senses." In an upcoming project, Bottoni is going back to her roots, combining fashion and design in a collection of elegant geometric tapestries. —DV

See the Q&A and video with Agustina Bottoni

Emiliana Gonzalez and Jessie Young

Location: Los Angeles, California | Instagram: @estudiopersona

The pill-shaped Hole bench by Estudio Persona features a seat of generously
stuffed white upholstery punctuated by two circular openings. 

Emiliana Gonzalez, 32, and Jessie Young, 35, founders of Estudio Persona, both grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, but barely knew each other before moving to L.A. and collaborating on an interior design job. Gonzalez was a product designer, Young was a conceptual artist, and both were interested in exploring the space where those two disciplines meet. The pieces they create are informed by the Brutalist architecture of Uruguay and feature elemental forms and subdued colors. Their UNA chair, for instance, has simple dowel-like legs and an oversized cylindrical backrest wrapped in buttery leather, while the Nido chair has a deep scoop of a seat supported by a simple cross-shaped oak base—furniture that is as sculptural as it is inviting. —TM

Dozie Kanu

Location: Lisbon, Portugal | Instagram: @dozie.kanu

Dozie Kanu’s Table on 84s, a slab of concrete sitting on an elbow wire car rim, inserts car culture signifiers from Houston into the dialogue beween art and design.

When the group show "Midtown" opened at New York’s Lever House in 2017, one piece in particular caused a sensation: Bench on 84s, a concrete seat supported by polished metal car rims. Its creator, Dozie Kanu, 25, who grew up in Houston, had studied film production design at the School of Visual Arts, but became enamored of statement-making furniture. "I’m interested in taking things that are useful and making them functional in a different way," says Kanu, who is focused on gallery-grade design. "It’s the reverse of what Duchamp did, which was taking something functional and making it purposeless." He is presently at work on his biggest project yet, converting a warehouse outside Lisbon into his own live/work space. —TM

Cecilia Xinyu Zhang

Location: Bergen, Norway | Instagram: @ceciliaxinyuzhang

With an adjustable round reflector, Cecilia Xinyu Zhang’s Equant suspension lamp offers indirect and diffused illumination.

From her studio in Norway, Beijing-born Cecilia Xinyu Zhang, 28, conjures designs that hover, dance, and play weightlessly in space, creating delicate illusions that are surprisingly functional and impossible to ignore. One example is her wall hanger Frame for Northern. Its nested steel rectangles can rest flat against the wall or fan out to create a 3D hanging space. For Roche Bobois, she created the Discrete shelf. Due out this month, it features glass shelves held in aluminium frames that seem to float. "It is not about a statement piece. It is simply about offering the user a sense of depth and lightness through an ordinary, functional piece," Zhang explains. —TO

Erez Nevi Pana

Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands | Instagram: @p_a_p_i_x_

Erez Nevi Pana created his outré salt-crystal-encrusted stool by letting it soak in the Dead Sea for months.  

Growing up near Tel Aviv, Erez Nevi Pana, 35, spent his childhood learning about plants in his parents’ nursery. Further encouraged at Design Academy Eindhoven, he has centered his career on design that doesn’t use any materials derived from animals. Now he’s working on a line of vegan textiles—using plants and minerals—created by following the principles of Ahimsa, an Indian philosophy based on the premise of nonviolence toward all living beings. "In traditional silk manufacturing, silkworms are boiled alive inside of their cocoons," says Nevi Pana. "In Ahimsa Silks, or ‘peace silk,’ we collect the cocoons after the moth has left." Earlier this year, he was the recipient of PETA UK’s Vegan Homeware Innovation award. —DV

Yemi Awosile

Location: London, England | Instagram: @yemiawosile

Yemi Awosile has designed textiles for spaces and the body using bark and cork. Her Wool rug line draws on industrial felt. 

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, textile designer Yemi Awosile, 34, isn’t interested in just the visual and functional qualities of fabrics, but also their potential for "sharing a narrative through material," she says. That’s why she sends swatches of the new materials she develops—including cork-based wallcoverings and fabrics made of bark from East African fig trees that can be harvested without felling the tree—to material libraries where anyone can study them. Awosile has created projects for the Tate Modern, The Design Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum and is currently working on a permanent public art commission, which will be installed in London in 2022. —DV


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