Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Vitra workshops, Basel, Switzerland, 2010. Picture credit: courtesy and copyright © Barber and Osgerby studio

Barber Osgerby talk travel, relationships and design

In this new video the acclaimed design duo also describe how form doesn’t always follow function

The acclaimed British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby certainly have a functional relationship. Over the past two decades the pair have produced beautiful, durable, engaging products for clients such as B&B Italia, BMW, Flos, Hermès, Knoll, Sony and Vitra. Yet where does the role function, and indeed emotion, lie within their work and working lives?

These chairs, tables, lamps and other items certainly serve an allotted purpose. However, that simple, understated, functionality isn’t overly prized by the pair. In this new film, shot by Frieze, Jay Osgerby describes how even the most baldly useful object “has an emotional requirement, which in a way has its own function.”

It's a notion Edward Barber echoes, adding how it’s often said “there’s an aesthetic softness running through our objects.”

In the clip, they describe how they prefer to draft out their work on paper, rather than model it digitally, and look very hard at the materials they plan to employ. “We focus on the tangible every day,” says Jay,“the grain of something, the finish of something.”



In a similiar way, the simple act of travel, rather than the hard graft of design research, can, in Jay’s opinion, yield great insight. “What’s fascinating about travel is you get to understand how different cultures through history have resolved the same fundamental problems,” he says.

Closer to home, the duo also understand that it’s common ground, rather than a diverse selection of skill sets, that has really helped them to succeed. “The success of our partnership is that we have a real overlap in our reference points and experience,” says Jay. You can watch the video above, and gain a deeper understanding of those experiences and reference points by ordering a copy of Barber Osgerby, Projects here.