Form&Seek– Designers' collective and hotbed of innovation.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.-Helen Keller
This quote ran on repeat in my mind, as I spoke with Bilge Nur Saltik–one of three co-founders of a unique and highly productive collaborative of designers–Form&Seek.
Designers Golnar Roshan, Ruben de la Rive Box, and Saltik, came together to create Form&Seek in 2013. Launched with a shared exhibition titled 'No Borders' at Istanbul Design Week that year, Form&Seek has become an international platform for designers to come together and exhibit their work as a powerful collective.
From our conversation, I learned that the London, UK-based collaborative aggregates talented designers from all over the world; That the Form&Seek platform gives them an opportunity to align their work with a broader theme and a joint exhibit at prestigious events like Milan Design Week and the London Design Festival, each year. The result is that, with each exhibition (Form&Seek currently does two-per-year), a pool of spectacular and materially-innovative products, from multiple designers, comes forth into the world under the umbrella of Form&Seek.
I think to myself: Were these young, but incredibly talented designers, some of them fresh out of school, to attempt to exhibit alone, it would be extremely challenging and almost impossible for them to shine this way.
On the other hand, from a collection of 12 designers at their first Milan Design Week, in 2014, this year Form&Seek more than doubled that number–at 25 designers– and created double that physical presence, and space for the exhibit as well. In addition to the quantitative backing, this extensive collection of products and designers makes for a very exciting experience at design festivals. Why? Because varied elements and products that contrast and speak to each other, and yet align to a common theme make for a visually and intellectually stimulating experience.
Here is our conversation with Nur, where we learn about the mechanisms of the collaborative, the qualities that unite the designers and talk about some of our favorite products from the Form&Seek banner.
BNS: Bilge Nur Saltik MD: MaterialDriven
MD: Nur, How do you bring designers into the fold for the now-yearly exhibits in Milan and London?BNS: Each year, we determine a theme and concept for the collective exhibit we will have at each of these shows. We organize into two teams, and begin to approach–via invite– designers (young and established), whose work and process will align with the theme. We all work together, collaboratively, to develop the concept further; We then curate and begin to develop individually, the products and designs that will be part of the exhibit.
Some designers are involved in that particular show alone, while others are almost permanently participating in each of exhibition we do; For example designer Jule Waibel, whose most recent work, is shown on our Instagram takeover, has been a part of several shows now.
MD: Nur, from this year's products at Milan Design week, several Form&Seek designs stood out to us: "Eye of the Light", which is a metal fabric, your ‘OP-Vase’, which creates optical illusions with glass-cutting, and we also see "Softie Wanted' which celebrates industrial foam. These are just a few of many products we liked. Tell us what unites them.
BNS: Well, we were aiming to seek new materiality and textures this year. 'Seek' was the theme for this exhibition, and each of the products is marked by that quest to create new materiality as well as to push essential, simple materials to new functionality.
Another product that resonates with that theme is 'Loom Bound' by Rive Roshan. The flexible, modular design can act as space divider among other functions. And really, it is the fabric that acts as hinge here and utilizes fabric as a constructive material. Expressing 'Process' is also an omnipresent theme in our work.
MD: We notice some dominant characteristics in the products we see from Form&Seek–there is a play with light, an intent of shaping perception through design and of course material innovation. For example, to illustrate that material innovation–this year Form&Seek products created ‘Metal Fabric,' used fabric as constructive material, and repurposed industrial foam ('Softie Wanted') for furniture. Tell us more about this.
BNS: With Mandy Ross and Victoria Ledig ( creators of 'Softie Wanted'), we approached them, with the theme of the exhibition in mind. Aligning with the intent to seek new materials and applications, the two designers responded with the creation of 'Softie Wanted' - rugs and mats created with industrial foam. So, sometimes the theme and our interaction with the designers can trigger the attributes you see in the final products.
MD: What is next for Form&Seek?
BNS: We are very excited right now about participating in the upcoming London Design Week 2016, we will have a 'Pop-up Shop' like last year. We are also thrilled about our presence at BoxPark– The world’s first ever pop-up mall. Boxpark is a new approach to retail, based in East London, and comprises of independent ‘upcycled’ shipping containers as the retail space.We will have an independent container all to ourselves, and this will be our first time operating independently of an organization or exhibition.
Going forward, it would be wonderful if we were to create and fabricate 'Form&Seek' own brand of products.
MD: Thanks, Nur, we look forward to seeing many many more incredible designs and designers emerge from the Form&Seek platform!
Readers, Form&Seek is currently offering excellent insights into the creation process of individual artists and designers via 'Instagram takeovers'. Follow them (@formandseek) and learn more!