Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Experience Lifestyle & Interiors on WGSN.
“I have absolutely no idea and no desire to describe myself. I am interested in humanistic aspects, but you can’t work with morals. I try to design things that are true to themselves and not too influenced by marketing factors, things are for people, because my clients are people, not industry.” – James Irvine to Designboom
It is a very sad day for the design world today when Great British designer James Irvine passed away.
London-born, Irvine graduated from the Royal College of Arts in 1984 and moved to Milan, Italy the same year. Here he worked until 1992 as a design consultant for Olivetti under the direction of design maestros Michele De Lucchi and Ettore Sottsass, while opening his own studio in 1988. From 1993 to 1998 he also worked in parallel as a partner of Sottsass Associati Milan, as the head of their industrial design team.
His studio has worked with the greatest names in furniture, transportation and industrial design, among which figure Cappellini, B&B Italia, Artemide, Thonet, Whirlpool, Canon, Danese, Zumtobel just to name a few.
He has been awarded with many honors — In 2000, his design for the Hanover public transport system Üstra was developed into 131 Mercedes Benz buses for Hanover’s World Fair. Soon after, in 2004 he was the guest of honor at prestigious Interieur trade show in Kortrijk, and was also elected Royal Designer for Industry by the RSA in London. 2010 saw him win as Wallpaper’s Furniture Designer of the Year, and he became creative director for historical furniture company Thonet.
His work has always been characterised by a great balance between elegance and functionality, cleanness of lines and above all a deep caring for the final consumer’s needs; as he said, his design goal always remained to create things that anyone might want to own because they really want it, and not because someone told them to.
In today’s frantic world, such approach remains an example and an inspiration for the generations of designers to follow – another Great is gone. —Gemma Riberti
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