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We interview Golnar Roshan (right), co-founder of Form&Seek
17th October 2017

Q&A with Form&Seek

“We keep a very international perspective in all our shows and demonstrate how design can unite people from around the world. The Brexit vote made us realise the importance of this attitude and motivates us to keep the idea of openness apparent in everything we do.”

When Dutch design collective Form&Seek was founded four years ago it was formed of nine members. Today, the collective is made up of 80 designers from over 25 countries. Exhibiting in London the year following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union had a particular significance for the collective. “We’ve always seen London as the creative hub of Europe, maybe even the world,” says Golnar Roshan, co-founder of Form&Seek. “We know many people who have left or are planning to leave due to Brexit. Brexit will inevitably damage the status of London as Europe's creative centre.”

This year’s London Design Festival was particularly significant for Form&Seek for reasons other than the gloomy B word. Exhibiting as part of Dutch Stuff at the London Design Fair, the collective launched its very first commercial collection. A series of six products – ranging from ceramic bowls and vases to screenprints and cushions – the collection is a response to the current state of the industrial design industry which Form&Seek believes makes it near impossible for emerging designers to get their creations into production with an established brand.

“Our dream is to use the power of the collective to enable us all as independent designers and makers to scale up our production and allow consumers, retailers and contract buyers to purchase unique handcrafted, design products directly from the collective.” Form&Seek has launched a Kickstarter campaign get the collection off the ground with the goal of raising €25,000.

With the Kickstarter campaign in its last week, we thought it was high time to catch up with Form&Seek. In the interview that follows Golnar reflects on why LDF 2017 was a festival to remember, the significance of showing in London post-Brexit, and her plans to shake up the design industry.

Ripple Espresso Cups by Bilge Nur Saltik for Form&Seek

How was this year’s London Design Festival for you?

This year's LDF was a big one for us. As Form&Seek we have developed a new and disruptive model for independent designers like ourselves that allows us to collaboratively produce, market and sell our work. Our first collection, consisting of artistic design objects and collectables, is now being made accessible to a larger audience. To support the physical launch of the collection at LDF we also launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us get started. Having LDF as a platform to talk to people about our campaign while the campaign was live made the conversations with visitors very insightful and encouraging!

We always meet a lot of fun people during LDF. The opening event is a big reunion for all the Form&Seekers and friends who come together from all over the place. We also had a lot of interesting conversations with press and potential buyers for our new work.

Your theme for the exhibition was ‘openness’ and of course, you’re a hugely international collective, how did you find the UK design scene now Brexit has become a reality?

We’ve always seen London as the creative hub of Europe, maybe even the world. We know many people who have left or are planning to leave due to Brexit. Brexit will inevitably damage the status of London as Europe's creative centre. That said, we still felt the pulse of London while we were at LDF so for now the impact seems relatively low within the design scene.

We keep a very international perspective in all our shows and demonstrate how design can unite people from around the world. The Brexit vote made us realise the importance of this attitude and motivates us to keep the idea of openness apparent in everything we do.

What was the reaction to the new collection?

We had a very positive reaction to the new collection. People were curious about the new direction that Form&Seek is taking and excited to see our steps forward. In general we think that making our conceptual ideas accessible to a consumer market makes the work more relevant and understandable to a larger audience.

People were drawn to the new Op-Vase, especially the new pink colour. The patterns refracted through the glass turn a flower into a bouquet and this beauty attracts a lot of people to it. Touch Bowls were also very popular this year due to their very soft and seductive form. When people found out about the way that the pieces were made they got even more excited. The videos on our Kickstarter page show all the processes behind the products which adds a whole new layer to the pieces.

Ripple Espresso Cups designed by Bilge Nur Saltik

Why did you decide to launch the new collection as a Kickstarter campaign? How is it going?

While it is great to bring designers together for exhibitions we also realise that it would be even stronger to create a platform that helps designers like ourselves succeed in their careers. We want to pave a new route for designers to be able to reach a larger audience with their innovative crafts and process-driven designs. We are using Kickstarter as a way to get started because we think it’s an interesting route to take for the idea of creating change and shifting ideas. As a platform Kickstarter has launched many unconventional ideas and products. We also find that it's very relevant since it is also about the power of collective collaboration.

The campaign is going well. We need all the help and support we can get to make our goal by asking people to back us and spread the word about what we are doing as a collective.

Touch Bowls by Marija Puipaite for Form&Seek

Why is London Design Fair an interesting location to exhibit for a collective like yourselves?

The London Design Fair has always been very supportive towards us as a collective and open to the ideas that we have. The fair has launched a lot of great designers and is always looking to push the boundaries of what is expected. This makes it an exciting and relevant place for interesting people to visit.

What were your reflections on the other designers involved in Dutch Stuff? Were there any common themes or approaches this year?

Dutch Stuff was very refreshing and a great addition to the London Design Fair. It consisted of experimental and colourful work that was both upbeat and raw, tasteful and abstract. Dutch design is often quite conceptual and thought-provoking which makes it different to the other exhibits at design fairs. This was certainly true for Dutch Design. Holland’s design scene has always seems very organised and collaborative and meeting fellow Dutch designers has always led to new collaborations.

What were your other highlights from London Design Fair and the wider festival?

We were lucky to be positioned close to the Assembly exhibition, curated by Sight Unseen. The exhibition presented an overview of design coming out of the US and highlighted the creative, fun and unique processes currently at play in US design. It was the first time that we were exposed to the work of John Hogan and we fell in love with his experimental use of glass and colour to create mystical objects.

Other highlights include the Water exhibition which was initiated by two Form&Seekers Cindy Strobach and Kirsi Enkovaara. We always love to see the great ideas and experiments of our peers. We also loved Max Frommeld’s Making a Living exhibition curated by Riya Patel at the Aram Gallery. The exhibition explores the designer’s experience of working and living as a designer; it’s something that resonates with many of us designers today. We love the handmade and self-produced qualities of all the pieces which created a beautiful intuitive atmosphere. Our material partner Smile Plastics had an event in its showroom which was by Material Driven exploring the idea of Circular design. This was also a highlight for us as it feels very relevant as a theme and consisted of beautiful work by designers exploring the theme around the world.

Support Form&Seek on Kickstarter

OP-Vase by Bilge Nur Saltik is hand blown and cold carved by specialised craftsmen in Istanbul.
OP-vase designed by Bilge Nur Saltik
Hues Kitchen Tea Towels by Rive Roshan
https://vimeo.com/232883496
The Density Ripple Prints are signed Limited Edition screen prints by Studio Anne Ligtenberg and Atelier Mats for Form&Seek.
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