Heal’s Discovers 14: Luscombe & South

Heals Discovers 2014 Luscombe and South

Next up on our roster of Heal’s Discovers 2014 finalists, we have a design duo: Phil Luscombe and Josh South. We’re glad they didn’t take up their initial intended careers in Gardening and the Military…

Phil Luscombe and Josh South met while studying for their degrees in Three Dimensional Design, Furniture and Product at Northumbria University.  Having both grown up around builders and engineers, they found they had a fair amount of common ground and decided to collaborate and set up their own design studio. Phil is currently undertaking a PhD – a study of good workmanship and the process of making – while Josh is part of Northumbria University’s Designer in Residence programme. The duo’s Heal’s Discovers project is their first ‘proper’ project together, one they describe as being ‘a joy [and] we can’t wait to start another.’

Going right in with a big question, how would you describe good design? What do you think it should achieve?

That is a big question! Stand back…

We like to make a distinction between ideas and things. When you look at the best objects, like a Gothic cathedral or a Hans Wegner chair, it’s clear that they are not the result of ideas that jumped fully formed into a designer’s mind and were then simply realised in the material world. They are things that have emerged from a rich engagement, or correspondence, with the world of materials.

For example, Gothic cathedrals are not the realisation of a tightly specified architect’s plan, they are the consequence of thousands of skilled masons, working over centuries with just rough templates and shared principles, each one making their contribution to a cathedral’s thingliness. Today, in the culture of ‘big ideas’, you just cannot come close to generating the life that naturally emerged through these traditional processes.

We think contemporary design can only be ‘good’ by working step-by-step, testing things in real life, and without too much in the way of ideas clouding the process.

Which Heal’s designer – from any era – inspires you and why?

Lucian Ercolani, for his work in the Fifties. He knew what he was doing.

Where in the world have you been inspired?

We once went for fish, chips and mushy peas at the seaside (Tynemouth, near Newcastle) and ate them on a bench at night. Whilst we wouldn’t usually go on about it, a clear night’s sky, a big moon and the reflection in the sea is a pretty inspirational sight. Half a beer in, Josh was going on about how small he felt!

Finally, and this doesn’t have to be design related, what are your three favourite things?

Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas.

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