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on Jasper Morrison’s “Early Work” exhibition in London – Designboom | Casual Expat

Start ‘Early Labor’ at the Jasper Morrison Shop

British designer Jasper Morrison is known for his work in the field of furniture, lighting, dishes, and everyday products. He began his career in London in the 1980s, designing furniture from prefabricated components and selling it in small series. His forthcoming exhibition, Early Work, is an opportunity to see up close a selection of these rare and characterful pieces, some of which have not been seen in public for over thirty years. Launching at the Jasper Morrison Shop in London on Tuesday 20th September 2022 during LDF 2022the exhibition presents seven works accompanied by contemporary publications, sketchbooks, drawings and photographs from his archive. Together they evoke the spirit of design in 1980s London in hopes of provoking reflection on observations, processes and ideas.

designboom spoke to Jasper Morrison ahead of his Early Work show and delved deeper into the timeless combination of inventiveness, humor and presence that embodies his unique creations.

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

The Thinking Man’s Chair (1985/1988) | all images courtesy of Jasper Morrison

Information about the founding years of the designer

One of Jasper Morrison’s earliest works was the handlebar table, which he created while he was a student at Kingston Polytechnic. ‘I built the first handlebar table at home in January 1982 […]. I was inspired by Marcel Breuer’s idea for a bent tubular steel chair that he had after seeing racing bike handlebars. So I decided to use the handlebars myself. I made ten of these and sold them for £100 each. he said design boom.

His student years were particularly shaped by the book trade, which he ran in his free time and sold used prints. Through these books he learned about art, design, architecture and how to observe; He also became acquainted with the surrealism that informed his ready-mades in their unexpected juxtapositions of everyday materials. After completing the Royal College of Art In 1985 he wrote his bank manager a business offer to become an independent designer producing and selling his own work. In the years that followed he carried out his plan: taking orders, ordering parts from suppliers and transporting finished and unfinished pieces around London. Eventually he built a network of backyard suppliers and services to support him. Back then, the designers said: Driving through all these little places will give you a lot of ideas. As you become a producer and designer, your understanding of manufacturing problems becomes sharper and your approach to solving the difficulties more inventive.

Sheridan Coakley who started it SCP the year before, was the first manufacturer to professionally produce Morrison’s designs in 1986. However, his “home production years” ended when he began making a living from his projects with SCP, FSB and Cappellini.

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in londonHandlebar Table (1982) | made one in ten

seven signature products at the fair

The first piece shown in the Early Work exhibition is by Jasper Morrison handlebar table (1982), made of aluminum handlebars, chrome steel connectors, beech wood support and a glass plate. Following that is the Laboratory Light (1983)a six-foot laboratory retort stand, clamp, and table fitted with a plastic funnel and rubber tubing.

When asked about his lighting piece, the designer said: ‘In October 1983 I moved to Berlin to study at the local art school to avoid my second year at the Royal College of Art. Shortly after getting there, I assembled the parts for this light fixture, which came from a shop called Werkstatt Chemie that sold laboratory equipment operated by chemists who became confused and impatient during my visits. The light was included in the Kaufhaus des Ostens, a project and exhibition organized together with Andreas Brandolini and Joachim Stanitzek in Berlin in the summer of 1984.

Another project that Morrison conceived while studying in Berlin was the Flower pot table (1984/1989), consisting of a stack of flower pots and a metal tray. ‘As I walked by a hardware store in Berlin where flower pots were stacked according to size, I thought the arrangement might work for a table base. The prototype with an aluminum tray was shown in 1984 at the “Kaufhaus des Ostens” exhibition in Berlin. This later prototype was shown with a glass top in a 1988 exhibition at the Prodomo store in Vienna. From 1989 Cappellini produced the table from a single terracotta strip and a glass top,’ he continued.

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

Wing Nut Chair (1985) | one of about eight made

Meanwhile the Wing Nut Chair (1985) was designed in Morrison’s final year at the Royal College of Art. Constructed of hardboard, piano hinges and wing nut connectors, it evolved from a series of origami-like folding experiments inspired by his visit to a factory specializing in the manufacture of linen boxes, which were then widely used to ship sheets in large Quantities of commercial laundries. ‘In the factory, four men used four machines to make the boxes at high speed. This gave rise to the idea for a Laundry Box Chair. The Wing-nut Chair was originally made as a demonstration model for it. People preferred the Wing-nut Chair and I sold about eight of them for £80. he shared with designboom.

Another signature piece at the show is the Thinking Man’s Chair (1985/1988), consisting of tubular steel and spring steel slats. Inspiration here came from an antique Spanish armchair whose cushion had been removed for repairs, and the aim was to design a chair made entirely of structural elements. The first prototype was sent to an exhibition in Tokyo, “Savage Thrones”, curated by Jane Withers and Anthony Fawcett Shiseido Gallery. After drawing many sketches of his idea, the small tables were attached to the ends of the arms. ‘I was going to call it the “Drinking Man’s Chair” until I noticed the slogan “The Thinking Man Smokes” on a packet of pipe cleaners I bought to make into a chair model and adapted it.” Morrison explains.

The first prototype of the Thinking Man’s Chair was made in December 1985 by Peter Longfellow, a metalworker at the Royal College of Art, during the school holidays. I sprayed it with a can of red oxide anti-rust paint. Concerned about how raw it looked, I decided to mark it with its own dimension in chalk and seal it with hairspray. The prototype was shipped in early 1986 for display at the Shiseido department store before being purchased by the shopkeeper. I returned to design in February 1987 and drew several sketches before completing a new technical drawing of it. An architectural locksmith shop in London produced a prototype for the ‘AD23’ exhibition at Aram shop. This second prototype differed from the previous one in that the slats curved downwards instead of upwards at the rear, and the small “tables” at the end of the arms rested on S-shaped tubes instead of L-shaped rods on the underside of the backrest slats.”

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

Flower pot table (1984/1989)

“Due to interest in the Thinking Man’s Chair, Zeev Aram offered to sell it. I accepted, but remained responsible for their production: having the chairs made in a small metal workshop in north London, having them painted elsewhere and, once sold, delivering them to Aram. The following year, Aram sold five chairs. Giulio Cappellini first saw the Thinking Man’s Chair at Aram’s 1987 exhibition and offered to produce the chair. In anticipation of Cappellini’s production of the chair, I reworked it slightly, adding a curve to the bottom edge of the back slats reminiscent of early English and Shaker chairs, and made new drawings. Cappellini started production of the chair at the Milan Fair in September 1988.”

The sixth piece on display is the clothes rack (1987), consisting of an air-conditioning shaft, the feet of two office chairs and corks. Morrison produced the stand as one of many pieces for an apartment he was commissioned to redesign after graduating from RCA. The product was quickly assembled by slipping two office chair bases into a spirally wound galvanized tube. He showed the coat rack with the second Thinking Man’s Chair prototype at AD23 in April 1987. He added the wine corks just before the top tube ends Opening. This exhibition drew his attention to himself Domus Magazine and manufacturers like Cappellini in Italy, with whom he built his career.

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

Clothes Rack (1987) | one made of one or two

Finally, Morrison shares with us what went into his design universal system (1990), a set of plywood drawers and white nylon wheels. ‘Not many storage systems were designing at the time; it was an area of ​​very little interest. The idea for this system of storage boxes came to me when I was using my first Apple Mac computer. I’ve never been very organized with paperwork and the Mac made a huge difference; It helped me get organized and I had less trouble finding documents. Inspired by this newfound order, I wrote a project brief entitled Putting Things Away So We Can Find Them! The Universal System should do for small things what the computer did for documents.’

The Early Work exhibition, shown during the London Design Festival 2022, is complemented by the introduction of a timeline on Jasper Morrisons website. A work in progress, it offers a rich and surprising picture of his early projects, combining his words with archival footage.

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

Universal System (1990)

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

Laboratory Light (1983) | one made of three or four

in conversation with jasper morrison about his exhibition “early work” in london

storage boxes

Project info:

exhibition name: Early work

draft: Jasper Morrison

location: Jasper Morrison Shop, 24b Kingsland Road, London, UK

Dates and times: September 20-23, 2022 | 11:00 – 17:00

Updated: September 19, 2022 — 5:38 pm

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