Made Together Apart

The onset of Covid-19 has significantly changed the way people live, interact and work. ‘Connected’ was an experiment set out to explore how creatives and makers adapt their processes using new technologies to work together at a distance and often operating from new, improvised home offices.

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Benchmark Furniture and the Design Museum challenged nine international designers to create a table and seating for their personal use, to suit their new ways of living and working from home. The designers had a choice of three sustainable American hardwoods to work with — red oak, maple or cherry. They were also invited to record their creative journeys to demonstrate how they approached the brief and developed their designs at a time of limited physical contact.

The designers involved were: Ini Archibong (Switzerland), Maria Bruun (Denmark), Jaime Hayon (Spain), Heatherwick Studio (UK), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska (Poland), Sabine Marcelis (Netherlands), Studiopepe (Italy) and Studio Swine (UK / Japan).

Our design approach stems from a custom display typeface that emphasises the significance of points of connection. The rectilinear forms within the letters are a nod to the hardwoods that the designers’ work was realised in, as well as a graphic representation of the project’s ethos — elements coming together to create a whole.

Points of connection act as a key motif throughout the identity, in the typography and messaging, as well as iconography and the arrangement of imagery — pictures from the project meet at the corners to underline the shared experience and collaborative effort of the nine designers, as they made their work together whilst apart.

We also designed, and helped edit, a publication to tell the full story behind the project. Documenting each individual response from start to finish, the book provided an in-depth look at the design process, alongside interviews with the designers to uncover the choice of materials, making challenges and environmental profile of each unique piece.

Soft cover. 200 pp. 165 x 235mm / 6.5 x 9.25in.

The resulting pieces were shown at the Design Museum, London, celebrating the act of physically coming back together — reconnecting — after lockdown.