A new series of biennial design symposia at the V&A invites some of the most influential contemporary design practitioners and commentators to discuss current concerns in furniture design. Speakers at the first symposium, 'Furniture Futures', include Sebastien Bergne, John Cederquist, Thomas Heatherwick, Lois Le Gaillard, Chris Lefteri, Amanda Levete and Alexander Payne.
The symposia will provide a platform for established and emerging designers, makers, architects, interior designers, collectors and design commentators to discuss and debate contemporary themes and issues in furniture design. Speakers will explore furniture as an expression of contemporary culture and consider issues related to both the future of design and the practicalities of furniture making.
The first symposium will explore a growing interest in furniture that crosses the boundaries between art, craftsmanship and design. Topics raised will include furniture as art; the role new materials and sustainability in design; and the parts that individual creativity and collaboration play.
The programme will be structured around three main themes: Creative Directions; Changing Practice; and Promotion and Communication. Speakers will include designer Thomas Heatherwick; fine art furniture maker John Cederquist; furniture and industrial designer Sebastien Bergne; materials specialist Chris Lefteri; design writer and professor of design at the RCA Jeremy Myerson; dealer and gallerist Lois Le Gaillard; contemporary design collector and author Alexander Payne.
Delegates of the symposium will also be given a curator guided tour of Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design (13 July - 18 October 2009), the V&A's summer exhibition which explores the recent trend among European designers for limited edition pieces that push the boundaries between art and design. The symposium is also part of the 2009 London Design Festival, which will be held at the V&A for the first time this year.
John Makepeace has been designing and making furniture professionally since 1959. His furniture is sought after for public and private collections in the UK, Europe and the United States. He founded and directed Parnham College from 1976-2001, when the new campus at Hooke Park was amalgamated with the Architectural Association.