Young Guns 2017: New Designers Making Waves

In our annual roundup of exciting talents in the design industry, we present a roster of up-and-comers making waves on the global stage.

This year we collaborated with Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, co-creators of WantedDesign, an increasingly important platform for designers and artisans.

Yuri Himuro

Yuri Himuro

Location Tokyo 

Education Tama Art University & Aalto University

Yuri Himuro left her job at a major necktie brand to start her own cutting-edge textile firm. Launched this year at the prestigious Milan furniture fair, her Snip Snap Series allows users to customize their own fabric by cutting away at five different scenes, revealing hidden motifs. In a pattern depicting a mountain village, the green of a cypress forest can be snipped away to expose blue waters. Cut away at a scene of people digging for dinosaur bones, and other archeological finds appear. To create the double-layered fabric, Himuro had to develop a new jacquard weaving technique. She hopes her innovation will help people "cultivate a sense of emotional attachment to their belongings."—Joanne Furio

Snip Snap Series by Yuri Himuro

Location: Basel 


Roser: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Staub: The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

Susanne Roser and Martina Staub debuted as Diiis Designstudio in 2015, and in the scant years since have introduced a slew of clever, sophisticated pieces for the home—from Sedo, a combination hand mirror, container and jewelry box, to Glaubi, a coat hanger that offers much more than a place to hang a hat (think mirrors and rotating surfaces for keys). Working with quality organic materials, the pair are winning accolades, including a recent nomination for the 2018 German Design Awards. —Meghan Dwyer

Sedo Mirror Box by Diiis Designstudio

Location: Helsinki 

Education: Budapest University of Technology and Economics & Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Zsuzsanna Horvath’s architectural background shines through in the meticulous compositions of her products. Originally from Budapest, the recent grad of Helsinki’s Aalto University turned heads earlier this year at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair with her experiments using a laser cutter to create 3D objects from 2D sheets, with gravity acting on thin birch plywood to give it its sculptural form. —Tiffany Orvet

Moiré Coasters by Zsuzsanna Horvath

Location: Warsaw 


Bochen & Jelski: Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts 

Bochen: University of Technology in Milan 

Jelski: Academy of Art & Design in Stuttgart

Designers Ewa Bochen and Maciej Jelski are behind Kosmos Project, which could, at first glance, be taken as a cheerfully on-trend mash-up of tribal motifs and Memphis elements. But there’s something deeper going on, a greater cohesion. Take the Transition chair: The shape of the backrest echoes the shield of an ancient warrior and the seat is painted in a shade called "holy green." It’s clear the duo hopes to connect with and revive human spirituality. —TO

Transition Chair by Kosmos Project

Location: Kolding, Denmark & Stallavena, Italy 

Education: Design School Kolding & Polytechnic University of Milan

Industrial designer Alberto Bellamoli is having a busy year. His creations have appeared in multiple curated shows, including the Pure Talents exhibition in Cologne, Germany, and Greenhouse at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair in Sweden. One of his most recent pieces, the Làsta table, is made of pink marble harvested from the hills of Verona. In collaboration with Jonathan Hotz, Bellamoli shaped the piece using a CNC machine. —MD

Làsta Table by Alberto Bellamoli

Location: Aubervilliers, France 

Education: Reims School of Art and Design & National School of Industrial Design in Paris

Luce Couillet is as much an inventor as a designer, using artisanal weaving processes to create new textiles. At her R&D studio Matières Ouvertes, she’s built a library of new materials for high fashion, sports, medicine, and interior design. Her dramatic Julio hanging mobiles, which double as room dividers, are laser-cut wood or paper pieces that are hand-woven together in works of architectural proportions, creating a hypnotic game of shadows. —TO

Julio Mobile by Luce Couillet

Kim Markel

Kim Markel

Location: Beacon, New York 

Education: Carnegie Mellon University

With a mother who was an artist and a master-craftsman father who she says could "build anything and turn it to gold," it’s no surprise that Kim Markel became a designer, albeit after an eight-year detour working in public policy. "I missed making things," she says. She describes her translucent Glow chairs as a passion project that took off, noting that they have the qualities of childhood objects: "Their scale, unexpected color, and handmade texture all create a sense of unbridled reality and strange magic." An environmentalist, she works in recycled plastic, using only discarded or waste materials. —Arlene Hirst

Glow Chair by Kim Markel

Portrait courtesy Wendy Pham

Location: Toronto 


Lo: OCAD University 

Ryan: Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology

Christian Lo and David Ryan met while working for a large design office where they both did freelance lighting projects without receiving any design credit. Two years ago they went out on their own, naming their company Anony. They began creating lighting installations for designers and architects, but last year they produced a residential line that won a Best Collection award at IDS, Canada’s major interior design show. "We design with the life cycle of the product in mind," says Lo. "We think about every user and make the lights easy to install and understand without a manual." —AH

Dawn Linear Light by Anony

Portrait courtesy Lavender Chang

Location: Singapore 

Education: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design

Olivia Lee had Asian city dwellers in mind when she conceived Float, a table that appears to contain lotus leaves in water. "Nature is important and symbolic in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia," says Lee. In Eastern cultures, water represents tranquility and fortune, while the lotus symbolizes enlightenment and rebirth. Float, however, is an illusion. The "water" is clear resin cast around lotus leaves. Such sleight of hand results from working in the studio of British designer Sebastian Bergne after college. "His joyful and witty approach to his own practice always stayed with me," she says. —JF

Float Table by Olivia Lee

Location: Paris 

Education: National School of Industrial Design in Paris

Samy Rio started out studying cabinetmaking but found he was more interested in the production than the product. Fascinated by the bamboo trees in a park near his home, he began to design with the material. He created the Bamboo lantern on a trip to Taiwan, where he worked with the national center for crafts. It won several awards and commissions, and jump-started his career. Rio has expanded to other materials but is still determined to find a way to get bamboo into industrial production. —AH

Bamboo Lantern by Samy Rio

Location: Tel Aviv & Milan 

Education: Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

Simple, flowing lines that avoid unnecessary details are typical of designer Assaf Israel’s work and are brought together with perfect restraint in his Daydream lounger. The seat consists of two identical cushioned panels that interlock, creating a fragile-looking shape that supports one person in a meditative recline, or two people in meaningful exchange. "I wanted to create an object that will remind us of the importance of taking a break and connecting to ourselves in order to reload," says the designer. The founder of Joynout Studio, he divides his time between Northern Italy and his native Israel. —TO

Daydream Lounger by Assaf Israel

Location: Mexico City 


Deni Correa: National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City 

Urani Correa: National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography in Mexico City 

Zzabi Olaria Agis: self-taught

Malte Taller, run by three sisters— Deni Correa, Urani Correa, and Zzabi Olaria Agis—takes traditional pewter kitchen utensils and enamels them with black-and-silver designs, often inspired by pre-Hispanic Mexican geometries. The women credit a blue-speckled enameled bowl that their grandfather kept on his table with introducing them to the medium. Their playful designs are applied by silkscreen and then baked at 1,470 degrees, so the patterns won’t fade. Like their abuelo’s bowl, Malte Taller’s pieces should last a lifetime. —Eileen Smith

Chucharas Spoon by Malte Taller 

Location: Tokyo 


Hayashi: Hitotsubashi University 

Ando: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design

"Wax is easy to use and can be reused simply by melting it, making it a versatile and harmless material for us and the environment," says Toshiya Hayashi, who, with Hokuto Ando, founded the design firm we+ in 2013. Their Disguise vases are created by hand by molding layers of the material in a rotary motion. Inspired by Olafur Eliasson and Tokujin Yoshioka, they added light and motion. LED lighting illuminates the vases from below, while a small motor creates ripples in the water that are reflected by the light. The result: translucent, moon-like objects with movement and a luminous glow. Flowers optional. —JF

Disguise Vases by we+

Emiliano Molina

Location: Mexico City 

Education: Ibero-American University

When Emiliano Molina first presented the prototype of his Finger chair to workshops, no one would make it, saying that it was too fragile and would break. He finally found a friend willing to undertake the project, but even the friend expressed doubt. "It was a challenge, but every piece is a challenge," Molina says, noting that the seat is surprisingly strong. Today the Finger chair is found in hotels, restaurants, and homes across Mexico. The piece was also the foundation of his business, Cuchara Design, which now employs five people and produces 18 additional products. —AH

Finger Chair by Emiliano Molina

Location: New York 

Education: Pratt Institute

Maryam Turkey, a refugee from Iraq via Syria—where she had to stay for three years before being allowed into the United States—became a designer to help solve problems. "I want to make things people need, not just want," she says. But Turkey has an equally strong artistic side, expressed in work like her Vaza vase. She used asymmetry to create a dynamic form that acts as a foil to the organic curves of the flowers within it. She also added an opening in the center to expose the usually hidden plant stems. —AH

Vaza Vase by Maryam Turkey

Lani Adeoye

Lani Adeoye

Location: New York 

Education: McGill University & Parsons School of Design

"Design is a form of communication," says Lani Adeoye, who has lived in such disparate locations as Montreal, Lagos, and New York. She’s right. Objects speak to each other all the time—echoing one another’s form or style. Adeoye’s Talking tables "derive their essence from instruments," she says, being inspired by the dundun, or "talking drums," of West Africa. Made of hand-turned wood, steel, and woven leather, they reinterpret the drums’ silhouette into a contemporary idiom with a removable tray top.  —Zachary Sachs

Talking Tables by Lani Adeoye

Location: Bacalar, Mexico 

Education: Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Centro in Mexico City

"I believe in quality, in having fewer possessions, but ones that last a lifetime," says Ania Wolowska, who studied in Poland and then Mexico, where she relocated in 2010. Her studio, ITZ, produces furniture that combines European modernism’s quest for perfection with the rich grain of local hardwoods and traditional craftsmanship. "Our productions are handmade. We don’t use any automated machinery or CNC routers," Wolowska says. For her Chamak low table, she worked with lathe master Luis Alarcon to fine-tune the proportions. —ZS

Chamak Low Table by Ania Wolowska

Location: Tokyo 

Education: Kanazawa College of Art

"I’m not designing products to be ‘new and fun,’ but products that I, or someone like me, will want to incorporate into their space," says designer Daisuke Kitagawa. For his Floe table, planes of tinted glass top a stainless steel base. The glass sections can be rearranged, altering the dimensionality of the piece, like a tightly stacked Donald Judd sculpture. Kitagawa’s method is driven by observation. "First, I study the history and current situation of the product category," he says, "and then I doubt them." —ZS

Floe Table by Daisuke Kitagawa

Location: New York City 

Education: Rhode Island School of Design

A heightened sensitivity to vernacular design informs the work of Sina Sohrab and Joseph Guerra, who met at school and founded their design firm, Visibility, in Manhattan. Their matching gunmetal steel shaving brush and basin, which can be used to hold shaving cream, echo the silhouette of a mortar and pestle. "We approach the human scale in a familiar yet nuanced way," Sohrab says. "The ritual of shaving is both ceremonial and cleansing, and the design reflects these qualities." —ZS

Shaving Brush by Visibility 

Location: Warsaw 

Education: De Montfort University & The University of Fine Arts in Poznan

Agata Nowak puts functionality first in a range of friendly designs that are simple but clever. "I appreciate projects that respond to actual problems," she says. This is what led to her conceptual line of furniture for kids. Understanding how children like to bounce around their rooms, Nowak created a safe space full of gentle curves rather than sharp corners. For the next user problem she takes on, she’d like to work on a more subconscious level, exploring new kinds of mood lighting and haptic materials. —TO

Kids’ Furniture by Agata Nowak

Nkuli Mlangeni

Nkuli Mlangeni

Location: Johannesburg 

Education: Kaospilots

For Nkuli Mlangeni and her Ninevites collective, cultural exchange is both a working method and a source of inspiration. Her Sankara rugs, based on the patterns of the Nguli people in South Africa, are developed with graphic designers in Spain and Africa. Using textiles sourced from Namibia, they are woven and hand-dyed in Peru. "I loved their style of weaving, but I also felt there wasn’t much trade happening between the African continent and South America, and I wanted to explore that." Mlageni hopes the rugs will resonate in an even larger global context that reflects the process of their creation. —ZS

Sankara Rug by Nkuli Mlangeni

Bonus: Find out what fellowships, programs, and fairs the emerging creative elite are enrolling in to gain visibility and experience. 


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