By Design is a free online talk series hosted by Sir John Soane’s Museum in partnership with Luke Irwin. Inspired by Soane’s own extraordinary collection, internationally renowned designers from across the world of design discuss their practice through a single object. In this talk, Alice Rawsthorn speaks with interior designer Ilse Crawford.

About the Speakers

Ilse Crawford

Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic and creative director with a simple mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of all that she does. As founder of Studioilse, together with her multi-disciplinary, London-based team, she brings her philosophy to life. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. It means selecting and designing furniture and products that support and enhance human behaviour and actions in everyday life; and that have the least harm to people (makers and users) and the environment. It means restoring the human balance in brands and businesses that have lost their way.

Studioilse has completed over a hundred projects including commercial, hospitality, retail, residential and social projects that span the globe. Their projects have become benchmarks in their field, including Soho House New York, the first Aesop store in London, Cecconi’s restaurant, London, Ett Hem hotel in Stockholm and a new global airline lounge for Cathay Pacific that has been rolled out over 9 locations with more pending. They also created a collection of affordable, sustainable, quality furniture, lighting and accessories in natural materials for IKEA and a range with Bosnian company Zanat celebrating the areas UNESCO listed wood carving skills. And in 2017, in collaboration with Massimo Bottura and Food for Soul, Studioilse redesigned the St Cuthberts centre in London to create a functional and beautiful home for Refettorio Felix, which offers healthy and delicious lunches using surplus ingredients to vulnerable members of the local community.

Crawford has more than thirty years at the forefront of the international design world. Prior to Studioilse, she was the founding editor of Elle Decoration UK, launched well-being magazine BARE, and the home division of Donna Karan. In 2014 Crawford was awarded an MBE for services to Interior Design and in 2015 received an Honorary Doctorate from the London College of Communication, University of Arts London.

In addition to the studio, Crawford is a leading advocate of systemic wellbeing design having founded and run the Man and Wellbeing department at the Design Academy Eindhoven. She lectures widely on subjects of business and design, has published three books about her design philosophy, Sensual Home, Home is Where the Heart is? and A Frame for Life and was featured on Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.

Alice Rawsthorn

Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and author whose latest book is the critically acclaimed Design as an Attitude. Her weekly design column for The New York Times was syndicated worldwide for over a decade. Alice has spoken at important events including TED and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Born in Manchester and based in London, Alice is chair of trustees at Chisenhale Gallery in London and was awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts. A founding member of the Writers for Liberty campaign for human rights and freedoms. Alice is co-founder of the Design Emergency research platform on design’s role in building a better future.

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