Having met as design students at the Royal College of Art in London, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have since collaborated on designing products and furniture as BarberOsgerby and architectural projects for clients such as Stella McCartney as Universal Design Studio.
When Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby were asked to design a new bench for St Thomas’s Cathedral in Portsmouth, they were told that it had to be made from oak, the traditional material for English cathedral furniture, but must also be light and portable. Beautiful though it may be, oak is far too heavy to be easily moved. BarberOsgerby’s solution was to engineer the wood into such slender, but robust forms, that the benches would be light enough to be maneuverable.
The Portsmouth Bench emerged with many of the characteristics which are typical of Barber Osgerby’s work. Quietly elegant in style, it is equally subtle in structure. The confident simplicity of the bench belies the complexity of creating such a pleasing and practical object and one which fulfills Barber Osgerby’s objective of designing “things that people will find pleasing to use and own”.
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have worked together since meeting as students at the Royal College of Art in 1992. Born in Shrewsbury in 1969, Barber studied at Leeds before the RCA, while Osgerby, born in Oxford in 1969, was a student at Ravensbourne. One of their first collaborative projects was the Loop Table, a deceptively simple coffee table with a birch ply top looping around the base, which was produced first by Isokon Plus in the UK, then by Cappellini in Italy.
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
Edward and Jay continue to design furniture for Cappellini and Isokon Plus, which makes the Portsmouth Bench, but also have developed products for Authentics, Levi-Strauss and Magis as well as working on conceptual projects for Dornbracht and Abet Laminati. In 2001, Barber Osgerby founded Universal Design Studio to execute architectural and interior design projects, which have included Pharmacy, the west London restaurant, and fashion stores for Stella McCartney.