A dozen reasons to love Simone Brewster


Quick Insight

By Audrey Kadjar

With an approach that blends Caribbean cultural expressions with the essentialist nature of 20th-century modernism, Londoner Simone Brewster is one of the most distinctive voices in design today. Her work spans jewelry, furniture, objects, and drawings that reflect her architectural training through a dedication to purity of form.  Simplicity, though, in Brewster's case, is anything but quiet and unemotional. Each Brewster design is like a stylish amulet that draws the eye and warms the heart. And we're not the only ones to notice: Brewster has been invited to exhibit at a number of prestigious venues like the British Embassy during the 2012 Olympic Games, The Royal College of Art, and Saatchi Gallery.

We’ve been following Brewster since the launch of her Tropical Noire collection at London Design Festival in 2014, so we were thrilled to catch up with this unique talent to get to know her better. Here's a glimpse into why we're such big fans.



1. If you could choose just one color for your designs, which one would it be and why?

Black. Black is elegant and sophisticated and effortless. Dark wood furniture deeply speaks to me. It reminds me of my parents' home and my childhood. It reminds me of colonial furniture and African sculpture. It feels authentic.  

2. What is your must-have design object?

A desk light. I think that answer may be a bit biased though, since I’m currently looking for a replacement lamp for my own desk. I've been admiring some of the classics and wondering which one to go for—Anglepoise, Tolomeo , or Tizio ?

3. Can you show us a photo of your desk?

No, It’s a secret.

Step Stools in Solid Ebonised Tulipwood by Simone Brewster Photo © Simone Brewster 4. What research is currently most informing your practice?

Much of my inspiration is tangential. I often look to art and sculpture, which would be typical for someone creating work in three dimensions. However, I also look at history and historical artifacts. Right now I am absorbed in some of the colonial artifacts found in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection. In regards to making, I am looking at casting and mould-making.

5. Which of your projects are you most obsessed with right now?

I am currently working on a commission—a new collection of seating elements and objects inspired by the female form. It’s something I’ve touched upon before in my work, but I’m approaching it from a different angle; I’m quite excited about where it could go. It’s actually been informing a whole new body of work in the format of drawings and oil pastels, which I will then translate into three-dimensional compositions. Watch this space...

6. What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?

I would be a university tutor or a sculptor or a maker… oh wait, I am those things! I believe we should try and live some element of our dream, “what if” lives every day. Even if life doesn’t permit you to work in the field of your dream job, you can still live it for yourself in some small part. If I worked in a shop or as a waitress, I would still have to find a way to make my work. Lack of worldly recognition wouldn’t stop me from doing what I do.

7. If you could bring a designer or artist back to life, who would it be?

This is an impossible question. Do the artists have a say? If I bring Frida Kahlo back, will she be annoyed at me for resurrecting her? If I bring back Aaron Douglas, will he be invigorated by the social progression or disappointed? If I bring back Brâncuși, do you think he will let me have his studio?

Simone Brewster and her Maid Table in Sapele, Tuplipwood, and Glass Photo © Jessica Kassin 8. How do you react to criticism?

I listen. I studied architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London. My experience—early on in my creative journey—of hanging my work on the wall during a critique has left my ego quite hardened to judgment. I don’t feel entitled to praise, and there’s much insight to be gained from those who don’t think and see like I do. Criticism has its place and is definitely required as part of my creative process and individual growth. 

9. Can you give us five links to things you think we should know about?

NPR Music: I have this on whilst I work, playing in the background. It’s introduced me to so many hidden gems.
Brainpickings: A great place to go when looking for books that contain wisdom from across the ages. This site has directed me towards so many beautiful ideas. 
Akala: This man is making such a huge contribution to social dialogue and change that if you don’t know about him yet, you will soon. 
The Jealous Curator:  We all know the big names, but when I’m looking for new voices and a bit of inspiration I go here.
City Like You: An insightful way of looking at your travel destinations through the eyes of the artists that live there.

10. When was the last time you didn’t sleep for two days?

I honestly couldn’t rightly say. My best guess would be whilst traveling either in Venice or Lagos.

11. What is the most functional object you own?

My blank sheets of A4 paper.

12. What is the worst advice you ever received and didn't follow?

When I was a teenager, my school had each of its students meet one-to-one with a career advisor. When asked what I planned to be as I progressed to the end of my secondary education, my eager, sixteen-year-old self told her with gusto that I wanted to be an architect. (I didn’t register design as a profession at the time). Before looking at my grades or teachers' report, the advisor looked at the girl sitting before her and said, “Why don’t you consider something more realistic and attainable; like a secretary.”

 

  • Text by

    • Audrey Kadjar

      Audrey Kadjar

      Born in the US to a French family, Audrey grew up in multiple countries. Before landing at Pamono, she studied art history in London and worked in the cultural industry. When she's not perfecting French translations, she can be found writing for various publications, working on her experimental zine, or pursuing art and photography projects.

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