“You Can Sit With Us” Aims to Open Doors That “Were Firmly Closed to Us,” Says 2LG Studio

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2LG Studio founders, Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe, have curated an exhibition at the London Design Festival called You Can Sit With Us. The show aimed to provide a platform for a diverse mix of emerging designers, inviting 13 participants from different nationalities, races, genders, and backgrounds to showcase their work. Whitehead and Cluroe came up with the concept based on their own experiences of trying to break into the design industry and feeling like outsiders. The exhibition took the form of a dining room, featuring a long table surrounded by chairs, each designed by a different participant.

The designers showcased a range of unique and eye-catching pieces. Helen Kirkum, a footwear designer, created a lounge seat with upholstery made from trainer insoles, while Norwegian designer Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng contributed a hand-crafted ash chair in a new black lacquer finish. California-based Sam Klemick, who had a career in fashion before moving into furniture, created a design with a backrest that features a sweater slung over it. Other notable participants include Rotterdam-based Benjamin Motoc, Paris-based sculptor Bence Magyarlaki, and designers Amechi Mandi, Divine Southgate Smith, Wilkinson & Rivera, Net Warner, Hot Wire Extensions, Byard Works, Pulp Sculptuur, and Blake C Joshua.

The exhibition’s name, You Can Sit With Us, is a reference to the movie Mean Girls and aims to create a safe space that welcomes new perspectives. The chairs were arranged around a table produced by Smile Plastics using recycled plastic bottles and old tinsel, creating a glittering effect. The project was an important one for 2LG Studio, especially for Whitehead, who battled mental health struggles following the pandemic. It allowed him to explore how emotion and personal experiences can be incorporated into design.

The exhibition also featured collaborations with textile brand Granite + Smoke, who produced colorful blankets with the exhibition’s title message, and homeware brand Sheyn, who worked with 2LG Studio on a series of suggestive 3D-printed vases. Whitehead emphasized that the collection they designed together is a celebration of their queerness, something they hadn’t fully embraced in their product design output before.

You Can Sit With Us was on show at the London Design Fair from September 21 to 24 as part of the London Design Festival.

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