Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby studied Architecture together at The Royal College of Art in London and established Barber & Osgerby in 1996. From their studio in Trellick Tower, West London, they first designed the Loop Table, produced by Isokon in1997. The table was featured widely and brought them to the attention of Guilio Cappellini. This was to be the beginning of a long working relationship with the renowned Italian producer. Much of their early work involved the folding and shaping of sheet material – influenced by the white card they used frequently in their architectural model making. Plywood and perspex were used in the development of the Pilot Table, 1999, and Stencil Screen, 2000, for Cappellini. The experimental Hula Stool, 2001, originated from sheet plywood reassembled to create complex, compound curves; the Shell Table, 2002, (nominated for the Compasso d’or) and Shell Chair, were further structural studies in plywood. The use of folds created beam structures that could take the weight of a person but were also incredibly light. In 1999 Levi’s approached Barber & Osgerby to join a team who were developing the ingenious ‘Engineered Jeans’ range. Barber & Osgerby were responsible for producing 2 hangers to display the range in all Levi’s 9000 shops around the world. Commissions became more diverse in 2002 when they were commissioned to design furniture for a cathedral on the south coast of England and were approached by Coca-Cola to design a bottle for a new drink they were developing, ‘Ipsei’. These contrasting projects showed the flexibility, and capability of Edward and Jay to design for both handcrafted, batch produced furniture on the one hand and a PET bottle that is today produced at 1.2 million bottles a day. In the same year they completed Stella McCartney’s first store in Manhattan with bespoke furniture produced by Cappellini.
Barber & Osgerby’s work is found in many permanent collections including the V&A Museum-London, Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York and the Design Museum, London.