IN PARTERSHIP WITH LUKE IRWIN:
Design can be found in everything we touch, see and hear.
In the summer of 2023, Sir John Soane’s Museum and Luke Irwin presented a fourth season of By Design, a public talk series in which leading designers discuss their practice, through the lens of a single object.
Co-hosted by Will Gompertz, the Barbican Centre's Artistic Director, and Alice Rawsthorn, award-winning design critic and author, we reflected on the power of objects – large or small, mundane or exceptional, aesthetic or utilitarian – to spark new ideas and act as a spur for different forms of creativity.
Tom Stuart-Smith in conversation with Will Gompertz – 5 June 2023
Tom Stuart-Smith is a landscape architect whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He read Zoology at the University of Cambridge before completing a postgraduate degree in Landscape Design. Tom has since designed gardens, parks and landscapes throughout the world.
Recent projects in the public domain include several projects at Chatsworth, a new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield, and the masterplan for RHS Garden Bridgewater, which is one of the largest new garden projects in Europe. 2021 saw the completion of a new Islamic garden, Jellicoe Gardens in Kings Cross, commissioned by the Aga Khan Development Network and Argent, and 2022 has seen the dramatic recasting of a garden by St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London which has a 100m² water basin at its centre, reflecting Sir Christopher Wren’s famous dome. Current projects include a new garden at Knepp Castle that seeks to maximise biodiversity, and a new landscape to Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness in Scotland.
Previous projects have included Her Majesty the Queen's Jubilee Garden at Windsor Castle, Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, the Bicentenary Glasshouse Garden at RHS Garden Wisley and the Keeper’s House Garden at the Royal Academy of Arts.
International projects include Le Jardin Secret in the heart of the medina in Marrakech, a garden located on the waterways near Kottayam in Kerala, and show gardens for the international horticulture exhibition at IGA Berlin 2017 and the international garden expo Beijing 2019.
He has also designed eight award winning gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show, all of which were presented with gold medals and three ‘Best in Show’.
Tom regularly gives talks and lectures, and continues to write occasionally for the Guardian, Financial Times and Daily Telegraph, amongst others. An exhibition on his work, the first about a living garden designer in the UK, was held at the Garden Museum in 2011.
Tom is a Vice President of the Royal Horticultural Society, a Trustee of the Garden Museum, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Landscape Institute, and a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers, and a Trustee of The Oak Project.
In May 2021, Thames & Hudson published a critical monograph of his work, written by Tim Richardson, which features twenty-four gardens from around the world.
Throughout his career Tom has also developed his own family garden at home in Hertfordshire, which is open to visitors each summer, by appointment.
Roksanda Ilincic in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn – 19 June 2023
Originally from Serbia, Roksanda Ilincic studied Architecture and Applied Arts at the University of Belgrade before moving to London to complete an MA in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins. In over a decade since founding her label, Roksanda has evolved an unmistakable design aesthetic as a women consciously designing for women. Roksanda's daring use of colour, unabashed femininity, sculptural shapes, modern distinctive cuts, innovative use of fabrics and unerring attention to detail make up what are now pillars of the ROKSANDA DNA. Synonymous with modern and contemporary art influences, Roksanda regularly collaborates with like-minded female artists and arts institutions internationally.
Roksanda has received multiple awards and nominations for her work including Red Carpet Designer of the Year at the Fashion Awards. She is listed in the Business of Fashion 500, a global index of the most important people shaping the fashion industry today. ROKSANDA was founded with a view to creating a new perception of femininity, while also being a platform that champions, celebrates and highlights other female voices.
Emily Todhunter in conversation with Will Gompertz – 4 July 2023
Emily Todhunter is a British interior designer and co-founder of Todhunter Earle Interiors.
Emily studied Philosophy and Psychology at Bristol University, training in her spare time with the legendary colourist and specialist painter, Jim Smart, who had painted some of the great British rooms designed by John Fowler. After graduating, Emily set up her own paint effects business and shortly afterwards moved to New York where she was asked by Howard Stein, of Xenon fame, to create the feel of a St James’s club in his nightclub, Au Bar. This brought public attention and, though only then twenty-three, her work was featured in the New York Times, Vanity Fair and many other publications. Commissions followed in the US and a move back to London in 1990 saw her commissions for fashionable restaurants Daphne’s in Chelsea and Christopher’s in Covent Garden. Soon after that, with her business expanding, she started working with Kate Earle. They cemented their partnership in 1994, together forming Todhunter Earle Interiors. For nearly 30 years this has been an unusually happy and productive partnership, during which they have designed and decorated houses all over the world. In the autumn of 2021, Vendome Press published their book Modern English.
Emily is married to financier and businessman Emmanuel (Manoli) Olympitis and has three children in their early twenties. They live between their homes in Wiltshire, London and Greece.
Alvaro Barrington in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn – 18 July 2023
Alvaro Barrington practices painting in its widest definition to explore the stories we tell about ourselves and about others. As he says, “It’s my way of learning and unlearning things I’m curious about and things I’ve been told.” For Barrington, painting is a way to experience the world we inhabit and to explore the role of painting itself within the long tradition of storytelling. Past exhibitions have looked at birthing and immigration (Sadie Coles, London, 2019); aspirations in the black community (St. George Projects, Brooklyn, 2021); and mass incarceration and notions of time (Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, 2022). During the 2020 lockdown Barrington made a body of work that explored self-love and digital identity creation in isolation (Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, 2021).
It is essential to Barrington that art meets folks in the spaces they feel themselves. One such space is Carnival, which he credits as the first fully-formed artistic experience of his life. Barrington began collaborating with Notting Hill Carnival in 2019. That same year, he produced his first concert, One Famalay, which brought Soca artists such as Machel Montano, Skinny Fabulous and others to London for an audience of 3,500 people. For 2022, Barrington is producing Queens of the Caribbean, the official concert of Notting Hill Carnival.
Barrington has long been engaged with teaching art, first in his travels through Latin America and more recently at The Slade School of the Fine Art - UCL, London; The Cooper Union, NYC; and Hunter College, NYC. In 2019, Barrington co-curated Artists I Steal From with Dame Julia Peyton Jones exploring lessons Barrington has learnt from looking at historic artists—including Bourgeois, de Kooning, Basquiat, Andre, Pierre, etc.—as well as artists Barrington considers peers and mentors, such as Issy Wood, Laura Owens, and former Slade classmate Amelia Barratt.
A student of artists such as Tupac Shakur, who rapped about everything from love, women, blaming his mother, his brother’s drug addiction, needing to fight the system, and getting rich, Barrington believes anything he is curious can become a part of his work.
Patrick Woodroffe in conversation with Will Gompertz – 25 July 2023
For over 40 years Patrick Woodroffe has created the lighting for rock concerts, operas, ballet, architecture and special events. He has lit and directed shows for artists as diverse as ABBA, Adele, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, The Police and Michael Jackson. He has worked for over thirty years with the Rolling Stones, beginning his association with the band in 1982. Since then he has acted as the band’s lighting designer and creative director for all their live and filmed performances He was one of the curators of Exhibitionism, the band’s travelling exhibition showcasing artifacts and examples of the band’s work over 50 years.
In the classical world he has performances by many important singers, conductors and orchestras including The Three Tenors, Sir George Solti, and the London Symphony Orchestra. In opera he has created works in houses in Vienna, Salzburg, Bregenz and Helsinki, often using lighting instead of scenery to convey mood, atmosphere and narrative. Musical theatre credits include productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Batman Live, Showstoppers, Bat Out of Hell, West Side Story, mama Mia the Party and Ben Hur Live. He lit the 25th Anniversary Performance of Les Miserables at the O2 Arena and Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall. In film he lit This Is It with Michael Jackson and Martin Scorsese’s Shine A Light, the superb film of the Rolling Stones in performance.
For over twenty years he has lit and helped to produce the famous Vanity Fair Oscar party in Los Angeles and at the Cannes Film Festival. He has created some important architectural lighting schemes, including those at the O2 Dome, the Lake of Dreams in Las Vegas, Highgrove House, Prague Castle, the gardens at the V + A, and Somerset House in London. In 2012 he lit the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Olympic + Paralympics Games in London. With his long-time collaborator Adam Bassett, he runs the international lighting design consultancy, Woodroffe Bassett Design. Patrick is a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) and 2014 was awarded an OBE by The Queen for a lifetime of services to the arts.
Farshid Moussavi in conversation with Alice Rawsthorn – 23 May 2023
Farshid Moussavi, OBE, RA, is an internationally acclaimed architect and Professor in Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she trained. Prior to founding FMA, her London-based practice, she was co-founder of Foreign Office Architects (FOA). She has published, in conjunction with Harvard University, an influential series of books: The Function of Ornament (2006), The Function of Form (2009), and The Function of Style (2014). Her most recent book, Architecture and Micropolitics, which features four buildings by FMA, was published in October 2022. Farshid Moussavi was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2015, and appointed Professor of Architecture in the RA Schools in 2017. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2018 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to architecture. She was the chair of the Master Jury of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, and a member of its steering committee between 2005 and 2015. She has served as a trustee of several organizations, including the Whitechapel Gallery and The Architecture Foundation in London between 2009 and 2018, and, since 2018, the Norman Foster Foundation and New Architecture Writers (NAW), which focuses on black and minority ethnic emerging writers who are under-represented in design journalism and curation. In 2022, She was appointed by The Mayor of London, as one of The Mayor of London’s Design Advocates.
LISTEN BACK TO SEASONS ONE, TWO AND THREE