'By Design' the sell out talk series created by Luke Irwin in partnership with the Sir John Soane's Museum in which internationally-renowned designers discuss an object that has inspired them in some way, and through it discuss and dissect their own design practice. This is also a podcast.

Will Gompertz, Artistic Director at the Barbican, and Alice Rawsthorn, award-winning design writer and critic, co-host the series. More 'By Design' talks are planned for later in the year.

Listen to the podcasts below.

Artist and writer Edmund de Waal in conversation with Will Gompertz

Edmund de Waal is an artist and writer, best known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels, often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place. His interventions and artworks have been made for diverse historic spaces and museums worldwide, including the V&A Museum, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna. Recent exhibitions include a collaboration with Ai Weiwei for Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; an exhibition with the Walter Benjamin Archive titled Irrkunst for Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin; and ten thousand things at Gagosian, Los Angeles. For his latest project, de Waal collaborated with the choreographer, Wayne McGregor, on a set design for a new ballet which premiered at the Royal Opera House, London, earlier this year.

(42 mins)

Artist and designer Es Devlin in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn

Es Devlin is an artist and designer. Her projection-mapped sculptures are often created as environments for performing artists, opera, dance and theatre. Her solo works include Mirrormaze at Copeland Park, Peckham 2016; Room 2022 at Miami Art Basel 2017; PoemPortraits at the Serpentine Gallery 2017; The Singing Tree at the V&A 2017; EGG at the XI Gallery in New York 2018, MASK at Somerset House 2018 and most recently her large scale collective poetry work in Trafalgar Square: PLEASE FEED THE LIONS, 2018. Her stage sculptures include collaborations with Beyonce, Kanye West, U2, The Weeknd, Adele, The Royal Opera House, The National Theatre and the London and Rio Olympic Ceremonies. She runs the multi-disciplinary design practice Studio Es Devlin and is the winner of numerous awards including three Olivier Awards, the 2017 London Design Medal, a UAL fellowship and an OBE.

(49 mins)

Architect Sir David Adjaye in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn

Sir David Adjaye OBE an architect who's Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in fall of 2016, this opening was named Cultural Event of the Year by the New York Times. In 2017, he was knighted byQueen Elizabeth II and was recognised as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME magazine

(42 mins)


Artist and designer Peter Saville in conversation with Will Gompertz

Peter Saville is an artist and designer whose contribution to culture has been unique. As a founder and art director of the legendary independent UK label Factory Records he accessed a mass audience through pop music, best exemplified in the series of record sleeves he created for Joy Division and New Order between 1979 and 1993. His recent work straddles design, art and culture and since 2004 Saville has played a leading strategic role in the economic regeneration and cultural renaissance of his home city Manchester: as well as advising the city on perception and communication, he is artistic advisor to the critically acclaimed Manchester International Festival. His achievements were celebrated in The Peter Saville Show at the Design Museum in London in 2003. His first major show in a contemporary art museum was at the Migros Museum in Zurich in 2005.

(48 mins)


Fashion Designer Erdem Moralıoğlu  in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn

ERDEM is an independent house of bold fashion for women, based in London. Founded in 2005 by designer Erdem Moralioglu, the brand has forged its own path within the industry. Poetic and rigorous, ageless and timeless, powerful and versatile, Erdem’s world is an intriguing interplay of strength and beauty.



(42 mins)

Interior Designer Ilse Crawford in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn

Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic and creative director with a simple mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of all that she does. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. It means restoring the human balance in brands and businesses that have lost their way.


(37 mins)


Fine Artist Phyllida Barlow in conversation with Will Gompertz 

For more than 50 years, British artist Phyllida Barlow has taken inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She creates anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim and cement. These constructions are often painted in industrial or vibrant colors, the seams of their construction left at times visible, revealing the means of their making.


(42 mins)

Award Winning Architect Amanda Levete in conversation with Will Gompertz

Amanda Levete CBE is a Stirling Prize winning architect and founder and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. Recently completed projects include the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition Road Quarter (2017) in London; MAAT (2016) a Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, commissioned by EDP; Central Embassy (2017), a 1.5 million sq ft luxury shopping mall and hotel in Bangkok; a media campus and headquarters building for Sky (2016) in London. Ongoing commissions include the transformation of the flagship Galleries Lafayette Haussmann department store in Paris; a new centre for the cancer care charity Maggie’s in Southampton; two new buildings for Wadham College at the University of Oxford; the renovation and expansion of Paisley Museum in Scotland; and the Monte St Angelo subway station in Naples.

(51 mins)


Designer Martino Gamper in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn

Martino Gamper’s practice spans design and art venues, engaging in a variety of projects from exhibition design, interior design, one-off commissions and the design of mass-produced products for the cutting edge of the international furniture industry. Gamper started as an apprentice with a furniture maker in Merano and went on to study sculpture under Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. He completed a Masters in 2000 from the Royal College of Art, London, where he studied under Ron Arad. Gamper has presented his works and projects internationally, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, V&A Museum, London, MIMOCA, Marugame, Japan, Palais De Tokyo, Paris, Museo del Risorgimento, Torino, Italy, The Modern Institute and the London Design Festival commission. Gamper was the recipient of the Moroso Award for Contemporary Art in 2011, and the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year, Furniture Award in 2008 for his project ‘100 Chairs in 100 days’.

(52 mins)


Interior Designer Olga Polizzi in conversation with Will Gompertz

Olga Polizzi is Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels and Deputy Chairman of the company. Since 1996, Polizzi has been working with Sir Rocco to build a new luxury hotel company, Rocco Forte Hotels. Her latest works for Rocco Forte Hotels include The Savoy Hotel in Florence, Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, The Balmoral in Edinburgh and Brown’s Hotel in London. Prior to the creation of Rocco Forte Hotels, Polizzi was a Main Board Director and Director of Building and Design at Forte plc, a Westminster Councillor and Vice Chairman of Planning. Olga Polizzi is currently on the Council of Edward VII Hospital; Board of the Landau Forte Academies; Board of Fellowship & Honorary Degrees at King's College London; Chairman of The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation; Trustee of The Italian Medical Charity; Trustee of St. Mary’s School Ascot; Trustee Lord Forte Foundation.

(42 mins)


Are you in the right place?

Please select a store