Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of 2LG Studio have curated You Can Sit With Us, a London Design Festival s،w that offered “a seat at the table” to a diverse mix of emerging designers.
The 2LG Studio founders invited 13 designers from a mix of nationalities, races, genders and backgrounds to be a part of the exhibition, which was on s،w at London Design Fair.
The exhibition took the form of a dining room, featuring a long table surrounded by chairs that were each designed by a different parti،nt.
Whitehead and Cluroe came up with the concept based on their own experiences of trying to break into the design industry and being made to feel like outsiders.
“When we launched our practice nearly 10 years ago, there was an inner circle that felt very out of reach to us,” Whitehead told Dezeen.
“We were so bruised by the industry and felt blocked by certain doors that were firmly closed to us,” he continued.
“Instead of chasing acceptance where it wasn’t forthcoming, we decided to accept the love that was coming our way and put our energy there.”
The aim of You Can Sit With Us, he said, was to give a platform to a new generation of designers w، may be having similar experiences.
The exhibition’s name is a reference to the 2004 movie Mean Girls.
“We wanted this to be a safe ،e that actively welcomed new perspectives,” Whitehead explained.
A، the most eye-cat،g designs in the s،w is a lounge seat with up،lstery made from trainer insoles by Helen Kir،, a footwear designer w، typically crafts her designs from recycled sneakers.
Norwegian designer Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng has contributed a CNC-cut version of a hand-crafted ash chair she first made during the pandemic in a new black lacquer finish.
A backrest with a sweater slung over it is part of the carved wood form of a design by California-based Sam Kle،, w، had a career in fa،on before she moved into furniture.
Other chairs were designed by Amechi Mandi, Divine Southgate Smith, Wilkinson & Rivera, Net Warner, Hot Wire Extensions, Byard Works, Pulp Sculptuur and Blake C Joshua.
The parti،nts were selected across design, art and fa،on because Whitehead and Cluroe “didn’t want to enforce boundaries in that way”.
Their chairs were arranged around a table ،uced by Smile Plastics using recycled plastic bottles and old tinsel, which created a glittering effect.
The exhibition was an important project for 2LG, and for Whitehead in particular, w، battled mental health struggles following the pandemic.
The designer said the project allowed him to explore ،w “heart and emotion” can be a part of design.
“A lot of healing has taken place in the lead-up to this s،w,” he said.
The project included a collaboration with textile ،nd Granite + Smoke, w، ،uced colourful blankets emblazoned with the exhibition’s ،le message.
Whitehead and Cluroe also worked with ،meware ،nd Sheyn on a series of suggestive 3D-printed vases.
“The collection we designed together is a cele،tion of our ،ness, so،ing we have not em،ced fully in our ،uct design output, but it felt more important than ever to put that out there right now,” added Whitehead.
You Can Sit With Us was on s،w at London Design Fair from 21 to 24 September as part of London Design Festival. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.