Briggs & Cole
Jane Briggs and Christy Cole’s favorite thing is to experiment in a playfully artistic way with materials and ideas. Here paper is high on the list of preferred mediums, since frequently a collage forms the starting point for the designs from design duo Briggs & Cole. The patterns they come up with, which are printed on furniture, walls, wallpapers and textiles among other things, are always based on personal experiences or tell stories from the environment around the pair, who both graduated from the Glasgow School of Art and met through mutual friends in 2004 having already finished their degrees. Jane Briggs completed her Bachelor’s in product design in 1999, while Christy Cole went on to complete a Masters in fine and interdisciplinary art in 2006. They founded their joint design studio together in 2012, and since then they have worked in areas ranging from furniture design to graphics and design consulting.
The “Misfire” shelf is exemplary of the studio’s approach. It is entirely handmade, with a frame made of metal and a precise, all-encompassing coating system made from a special strip of linen on the surface and sides. This way the wall-mounted piece not only has a pattern, but the overall assembly becomes a decorative collage in black, white and cream. In reality the inspiration behind “Misfire” has nothing to do with design; the pattern actually follows the traces left by bullets in material from a shooting range. This is because the shelf was designed and produced for a building in Glasgow that used to be a police academy. It forms part of the Décollé collection for Stallan Brand Architecture + Design, Glasgow.
The idea of the collage is also in evidence in a couple of table designs by the two 30-year-old designers. For the “Losango Table” they were inspired by arabesques, while the “Holl Table” draws on the Reid Building designed by Steven Holl for the Glasgow School of Art. The pair created a unique surface for their “3/5 Temperance Table”, which combines metal with ammonite fossil stones. Jane Briggs and Christy Cole went personally to the desert in Morocco to collect the ammonites, which they spread across a brown-red tabletop made of artificial resin – a collage of a different kind. This unique piece of furniture was developed to mark the opening of Steven Holl’s architectural addition to the Glasgow School of Art.
One accessory with a somewhat narrative character is the “tailor-made” vase that was created for the “Caesura” exhibition at Glasgow School of Art’s Reid Gallery. This glass work of art stems from a collaboration with Matthew Durran and Jon Lewis, who are considered the specialists for specially manufactured glass in London. The design was inspired by the proportions of the Mackintosh stair rail in the Reid Building and also defines the linear arrangement of the flowers that once again point to Holl and Mackintosh and their almost symbiotic relationship to the study of organic shapes within nature – albeit in abstract form. Even the selection of flowers was carefully carried out by Briggs & Cole personally: These are hand-picked plants with direct reference to the native heather that can actually be found within the biodiversity system of the Reid Building.
Briggs & Cole’s designs are frequently specific and only available in limited editions. The transition between art and design is therefore fluid. This applies both to private or public interior design as well as to furniture, luminaires, materials and wallpaper prints. With their arbitrary style, the duo has already taken part in numerous exhibitions, including the “Caesura Exhibition” in Glasgow’s Reid Building (2014), Design Junction at London Design Week (2013) and “The Lighthouse” at the Centre for Design & Architecture in Glasgow (2012).
Briggs & Cole’s design for Domotex naturally demonstrates their unconventional style. Their pictorial collage and the diagonal movement on the floor are based on descriptions of the objects that covered the unseen floors and surfaces of Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau. Christy Cole comments: “What interests us is how material is defined and how it is assigned new values over the course of time. Our primary interest lies in comprehending the development of the Merzbau as a gradual opening-up of a space from which ‘living’ areas and ‘art’ areas develop within a family home. (ua)