Photography / Editorial / Print

"There is a fascination with light and what it can bring to an environment," says young designer Samuel Wilkinson in describing the driving force behind some of his award winning designs. The Plumen 001, which the designer worked on for almost two years with manufacturer Hulger was, he says "a fantastic project which explored the idea of an aesthetic lightbulb." It was a challenging brief, to give form to something new and redesign the energy-saving CFL light bulb. "You didn't know what was right or wrong and we were pretty much going back and forth for some time to finalise it." The end result of twisting the bulb's glass tubes is a shape he describes as 'organised complexity,' complemented by a soulful yellow tint when lit. The Plumen 001 led to Wilkinson collecting the grand prize from the London Design Museum of ‘2011 Design of the Year’ and the highly coveted ‘Black pencil’ from the D&AD, but he says his career has only just begun...

Wilkinson learned his craft at Ravensboure College of Art & Design in 2002, graduating in furniture and related product design. "It was a great college and I chose it because it had great workshops. It's nice to make, get your hands into the material." At the time, "Ravensbourne was in Chislehurst near London, set in a purpose built modernist campus in parkland." It has now moved next to the O2 centre but Wilkinson fondly remembers the workshops, "which is not always the case these days, where lots of universities are cutting down on workshop availability and making it more digital. It is good to have a balance of those things."

Six months after college, Wilkinson got an internship at Fitch:London, a big branding agency, followed by a few other leading consultancies such as Tangerine, PearsonLloyd, and Conran "working on projects like transport and furniture. More of the industrial design I really wanted to get into." Gravitating towards design came naturally, "Art wasn't my best subject at school, I was more maths and physics. I suppose it is more a technical outlook, that's why I like to find order in my design. I found as I got older, I could however bring my artistic side into that. I was quite visual as a child and am dyslexic as lots of designers are, you kind of gravitate towards making things, patterns, visuals, design based types of work."


It is very important for design to have life and energy, "the ideal is to create character and soul in the object, while also have functionality, sustainability in terms of durability and quality, so that it holds interest." It helps that his training in furniture design has given him solid grounding in ergonomics and visual balance, "There are so many subtle facets. You can design two objects in a very similar way, but one may just have that something special that can push it that little bit further."

The studio in hackney has shelves littered with designs, lights and intricate little paper and 3d printed furniture mock-ups. Picking up a piece of wood, "this was the initial stage of the Hoof table for Danish company &tradition. We were playing around with the bandsaw and making different patterns, realising when you cut it in three or four ways you get this pencil type reference." The table is less pencil orientated however, "we took the reference of that and formulised it a little bit more,