It sounds like a designer’s dream brief: a call for furniture that is not aimed at a specific market or part of an identifiable style but rather simple, universal, and stripped down to its essence—furniture that will stand the test of time. This was the idea that Jerry Helling, creative director of Bernhardt Design, first floated two years ago. The designers he approached would have carte blanche, but the assignment was not without its quirks. For one, the participants would be working blindly, unaware of their fellow designers’ identities or what they were creating. In addition, they would be assigned one or two pieces to work on at Helling’s discretion. “If they had already designed what I thought was a damn near perfect piece of furniture, then they were not eligible for that category,” he says. “Shin Azumi has done an incredible bar stool that meets all of these criteria. So obviously I couldn’t go back to him and say, ‘Okay, do a better one.’”
Global Edition debuts at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair—and if Helling’s plan succeeded, it should feel like a unified collection even though each piece was conceived independently. Indeed, we wondered, Will the designs bear their creators’ signatures?