The Wish List
Ten world-leading creative minds paired with a younger generation of rising talent.
Benchmark, American Hardwood Export Council and London Design Festival are proud to bring together a line up of ten world-leading creative minds paired with a younger generation of rising talent.

Instigated by Terence Conran, co-founder of Benchmark, The Wish List allows the chosen ten to work in creative exchange with some of those who have changed the way we think about architecture, design and the world around us.
“I have been fortunate enough to spend a lifetime working in design and never veered from my belief that the future of our creative industries lies in the education of our young and talented. This is why I set up the first Boilerhouse project at the V&A some thirty years ago, and later the Design Museum at Butlers Wharf. The wonderful cast of characters who have given their time to this project have shaped the world around us in so many ways and their willingness to share their incredible skills and passion with a young generation of highly talented designers is what makes The Wish List so special and important.”
Terence Conran
At Benchmark, teaching is at the heart of what we do with many of our 50 strong workshop of mastercraftsmen having joined us as apprentices. The Wish List continues this circle of learning  Our mentorship teams include Ab and Richard Rogers with Xenia Moseley, Alex De Rijke with Barnby & Day, Allen Jones with Lola Lely, Norman Foster with Norie Matsumoto and Zaha Hadid with Gareth Neal. Alongside our mastercraftsmen, the young designers are charged with designing and making an object that their mentor has always wanted, but never been able to find.
“This project is a collaborative fusion of design experience, young talent and craftsmanship .
It is this spirit of open-mindedness and enthusiasm that keeps the Benchmark workshop a dynamic hub of creativity.”

Sean Sutcliffe, co-founder of Benchmark
The commissioners all appreciated the importance of mentorship, with many further recognising that it’s a two way process.  

Amanda Levete states 
‘It is a privilege to mentor someone who is just starting out. Win Assakul was the best year out student we have ever had, he has a real understanding for materials and is a strong conceptual thinker. I have high hopes for him.’  Alison Brooks was interested in ‘exposure to new young talent, and to engage in a creative dialogue with a designer maker, working closely to a natural material. Felix de Pass subtly combines ingenuity and poetic detail with pragmatism and clarity of purpose.’ For John Pawson paired with Studio Areti, ‘It is a chance to see things through other eyes, to get a fresh perspective on familiar questions. I was interested in the breadth of training and experiences of the two sisters.’ Whereas Paul Smith felt ‘It is always interesting for me to challenge myself with projects which fall outside of my daily job – it is good to step outside of our comfort zones! I chose to work with Nathalie de Leval because in this highly commercialised world it is so nice to discover someone who is so hands on.’
At the start of July, in one week, ten diverse designs from sketch will be tried, tested and crafted into beautifully made objects, all in in American Hardwoods. It will be a powerhouse of craftsmanship challenging all those involved, requiring on the spot problem solving and a true test of skills.
"We wanted this project to be as much about the collaborative process , where design and making come together, as the end result. Our chosen designers have a huge challenge ahead of them not just to satisfy some of the most creative minds around but also to get involved in the actual making of their pieces, under the expert guidance of the Benchmark team, led by Sean Sutcliffe. This is a unique learning opportunity for all of us, as the very open brief will test to the limit; the versatility of the the material and the skills of the designers and makers".
David Venables, European Director of AHEC
All objects will be subject to AHEC’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Material used for this project has been donated by timber and panel products distributor James Latham.

The Wish List will be exhibited at the V&A during London Design Festival (13-21 September).

Benchmark is a leading company of craftspeople and designers, founded 30 years ago by Terence Conran and Sean Sutcliffe. Based in West Berkshire on a converted farm, the team is now 50 strong in over 40,000 sq ft of workshops for timber milling, carpentry, veneering, spraying, specialist metalworking and upholstery, as well as design studio and showroom. Benchmark works extensively with hotels, restaurants, public buildings, offices and private residences.

For over 20 years the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has been at the forefront of wood promotion in Europe, successfully building a distinctive and creative brand for U.S. hardwoods. AHEC’s support for creative design projects such as The Wish List for London Design Festival demonstrates the performance potential of these sustainable materials and provides valuable inspiration. / #wishlistLDF

The London Design Festival is a key constituent of London’s Autumn creative season, alongside London Fashion Week, Frieze Art Fair and the London Film Festival. Established in 2003 its role is to celebrate and promote London as the world’s design capital and gateway to the international design community and it has now established a reputation as one of the largest and most exciting design events in the world. This year the Festival will run from 13-21 September and over 300 events and installations will be on offer across the capital, from an exciting programme at the V&A to a major installation within Trafalgar Square plus over 250 partners who will participate in the nine day Festival.
For further press information about The Wish List project, please contact:
Jess Tully / 07973 630 421

For queries about AHEC, please contact:
Friends & Co Christine Samuelian / Belinda Fisher / 07957 203 037 / 07808 721 308

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