Design Matters with… Blake Carlson-Joshua

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As global design fairs get underway this May, we speak to one of London's rising stars about his life in design, the object he can’t part with and his highly original host gifts.

What role does craft and design play in your life?

Design and craft have influenced my life for as long as I can remember. I've always been a person with ADHD with thoughts racing through my mind, so design is a way to organise and prioritise them. Craft, meanwhile, is an action. My process starts with an idea that always changes, but I like that because I think process tells a story and I try to tell stories with the work I make.

How would you describe your interiors style?

I try to reuse as much as possible. In today's world and with how much we consume, I think it's always a good idea to try at first to reuse. After that, I would describe my style as a mix of contrasts, so whether it's brutal and cosy, or metal and newspaper, African and Scandinavian – I enjoy finding similarities and contrasts within those. I also really enjoy aesthetics by hand, like Liz Rowland’s coffee mugs, because you can see the brushstrokes. I think hand design always gives another experience to the object you're using.

Liz Rowland Big Bird Hand-Painted Ceramic Mug

$110
Liz Rowland - Big Bird Hand-Painted Ceramic Mug -  - ABASK

Liz Rowland Big Bird Hand-Painted Ceramic Mug

$110

Benjamin Nauleau Handwoven Willow Laundry Basket

$550
Benjamin Nauleau - Handwoven Willow Laundry Basket -  - ABASK

Benjamin Nauleau Handwoven Willow Laundry Basket

$550

Silvia K Ceramics Hand-Glazed Terracotta Large Serving Bowl with Leather Handle

$400
Silvia K Ceramics - Hand-Glazed Terracotta Large Serving Bowl with Leather Handle -  - ABASK

Silvia K Ceramics Hand-Glazed Terracotta Large Serving Bowl with Leather Handle

$400

Stamperia Bertozzi Lemons & Oranges Hand-Painted Linen Tea Towels (Set of 2)

$80
Stamperia Bertozzi - Lemons & Oranges Hand-Painted Linen Tea Towels (Set of 2) -  - ABASK

Stamperia Bertozzi Lemons & Oranges Hand-Painted Linen Tea Towels (Set of 2)

$80

Lucas Castex No. 6 Hand-Carved Oiled Walnut Serving Board

$925
Lucas Castex - No. 6 Hand-Carved Oiled Walnut Serving Board -  - ABASK

Lucas Castex No. 6 Hand-Carved Oiled Walnut Serving Board

$925

Brandimarte Hammered Sterling Silver Jug

$1,345
Brandimarte - Hammered Sterling Silver Jug -  - ABASK

Brandimarte Hammered Sterling Silver Jug

$1,345

Loewe Home Mohair Striped Blanket

$1,225
Loewe Home - Mohair Striped Blanket -  - ABASK

Loewe Home Mohair Striped Blanket

$1,225

Perla Valtierra Ribete Hand-Glazed Ceramic Medium Candle Holder

$166
Perla Valtierra - Ribete Hand-Glazed Ceramic Medium Candle Holder -  - ABASK

Perla Valtierra Ribete Hand-Glazed Ceramic Medium Candle Holder

$166

Andrew Iannazzi Hand-Blown Glass Beer Mug

$182
Andrew Iannazzi - Hand-Blown Glass Beer Mug -  - ABASK

Andrew Iannazzi Hand-Blown Glass Beer Mug

$182

Mervyn Gers Ceramics Hand-Glazed Ceramic Large Bowl

$76
Mervyn Gers Ceramics - Hand-Glazed Ceramic Large Bowl - ABASK

Mervyn Gers Ceramics Hand-Glazed Ceramic Large Bowl

$76

Oeuvres Sensibles Knife & Fork Hand-Embroidered Linen Napkins (Set of 4)

$305
Oeuvres Sensibles - Knife & Fork Hand-Embroidered Linen Napkins (Set of 4) -  - ABASK

Oeuvres Sensibles Knife & Fork Hand-Embroidered Linen Napkins (Set of 4)

$305
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Baba Tree Handwoven Elephant Grass Tray

$275
Baba Tree - Handwoven Elephant Grass Tray -  - ABASK

Baba Tree Handwoven Elephant Grass Tray

$275

What is the best craft or design gift you’ve ever received?

My wife and I got married last year and the gifts from our friends were a gambit of different stuff they created themselves. There's a candle holder, jugs, things for the wall, so those are my most cherished gifts I've probably ever received because every single one has a story.

Where in your home do you do your best thinking?

At home it’s in our living room. We don't have any TV or any big stimulus items in here. So it's just me and the books. I think a lot of the time, inspiration comes from paring things down, which allows me to think better.

What is the first and last item you bought for your home?

The first item we bought was a coffee maker, that was a necessity. And the last item I bought was a book on Terry Gilliam from the Oxfam right next to us. He's actually originally from Minnesota where I'm from – and I really like Monty Python. He’s always been an inspiration, I like his doodling style.

Which item in your home brings you the most joy?

It's another found item – a still-life photograph depicting what seems to be someone getting a speeding ticket in the 1970s somewhere in Florida. Everyone has short shorts, tight clothes and the cars are all really boxy. It's something I really cherish – it hangs over our mantelpiece.

Lucas Castex Hand-Engraved Wood Candlesticks (Set of 3)

$1,680
Lucas Castex - Hand-Engraved Wood Candlesticks (Set of 3) -  - ABASK

Lucas Castex Hand-Engraved Wood Candlesticks (Set of 3)

$1,680

Andrew Iannazzi Hand-Blown Glass Pourer

$200
Andrew Iannazzi - Hand-Blown Glass Pourer -  - ABASK -

Andrew Iannazzi Hand-Blown Glass Pourer

$200
Malaika - Bees Hand-Embroidered Linen Tablecloth - Multiple - ABASK -
Malaika - Bees Hand-Embroidered Linen Tablecloth - Multiple - ABASK

Malaika Bees Hand-Embroidered Linen Tablecloth

$505
Sold out
Malaika - Bees Hand-Embroidered Linen Tablecloth - Multiple - ABASK

Malaika Bees Hand-Embroidered Linen Tablecloth

$505
Sold out

Suk Keun Kang Hamji Ottchil Wood Low Bowl

$760
Suk Keun Kang - Hamji Ottchil Wood Low Bowl -  - ABASK

Suk Keun Kang Hamji Ottchil Wood Low Bowl

$760

Sister By Studio Ashby Disa Cotton Pill Stool

$1,145
Sister By Studio Ashby - Disa Cotton Pill Stool -  - ABASK

Sister By Studio Ashby Disa Cotton Pill Stool

$1,145

Huh Myoung-Wook Ottchil Ash Placemats with Leather Holder (Set of 5)

$2,745
Huh Myoung-Wook - Ottchil Ash Placemats with Leather Holder (Set of 5) -  - ABASK

Huh Myoung-Wook Ottchil Ash Placemats with Leather Holder (Set of 5)

$2,745

Gather Miami Hand-Blown Glass Ice Cube Cooler

$710
Gather - Miami Hand-Blown Glass Ice Cube Cooler -  - ABASK -

Gather Miami Hand-Blown Glass Ice Cube Cooler

$710

Artel Lobster Hand-Engraved Crystal Double Old Fashioned Glass

$198
Artel - Lobster Hand-Engraved Crystal Double Old Fashioned Glass -  - ABASK

Artel Lobster Hand-Engraved Crystal Double Old Fashioned Glass

$198
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Carl Auböck Walnut Cheese Board with Knife

$730
Carl Auböck - Walnut Cheese Board with Knife -  - ABASK -

Carl Auböck Walnut Cheese Board with Knife

$730

Green Wolf Lighting Titanio II Hand-Blown Murano Glass Portable Table Light

$435
Green Wolf Lighting - Titanio II Hand-Blown Murano Glass Portable Table Light -  - ABASK -

Green Wolf Lighting Titanio II Hand-Blown Murano Glass Portable Table Light

$435

Raynaud Touraine Hand-Painted Porcelain Salad Bowl

$245
Raynaud - Touraine Hand-Painted Porcelain Salad Bowl -  - ABASK -

Raynaud Touraine Hand-Painted Porcelain Salad Bowl

$245
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Lorenzi Milano Zebu Horn and Iroko Salt and Pepper Mill (Set of 2)

$1,520
Lorenzi Milano - Zebu Horn and Iroko Salt and Pepper Mill (Set of 2) -  - ABASK

Lorenzi Milano Zebu Horn and Iroko Salt and Pepper Mill (Set of 2)

$1,520
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What do you – or what would you like to – collect?

I have had different moments of collection in my life. I'm trying to pare back, but I would say vinyl records and design books are my go-tos. I like to use the two simultaneously, listening and reading at the same time which is a big part of my creative process. For vinyl, I like the grab-box approach to find something that I've never listened to. For books, I like the creative-salvage era in the 1990s, Ron Arad and early Tom Dixon; their use of materials is inspiring. I also like reading about West African artefacts.

What item in your home can’t you bare to part with?

I have a chair that was designed by Emilio Terry in the late 1920s for Carlos de Beistegui’s penthouse designed by Le Corbusier on the Champs Elysées. It’s profound because this was the apartment that put baroque and classical things in a minimalist setting. The chair was an obsession of mine, and one day by accident it was in a shop window in Paris and I bought it! It’s like it was meant to come to me and it’s one of my prized possessions – not because of its value but what it means. I never could have believed I would stumble across it in that way.

Carlson-Joshua participated in Future Icon Selects at London Craft Week and is showing in conjunction with Studio Ashby and United in Design for Wow!House at Chelsea Harbour until the 4th July 2024.