Cosentino interviews Benjamin Hubert of LAYER design studio
March 11, 2019
Benjamin Hubert is an award-winning British design entrepreneur, and founder of creative agency, LAYER. Led by Benjamin and a growing creative team, LAYER partners with forward-thinking brands – including Nike, Google, Bang and Olufsen, Samsung, Braun, Fritz Hansen and Vitra– to create products that will help define the way we live, work and communicate in the future. His latest collaboration is with Cosentino, is titled Raytrace, and is created with ultra-compact surface Dekton by Cosentino. Raytrace will be presented in Milan Design Week 2019.
Interview with Benjamin Hubert
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Benjamin Hubert. I am the creative director of Layer. Layer is a strategic design agency from London
How did this collaboration with Cosentino come to life?
Cosentino came to visit us, came to the studio to see our work, to see our process. And then, we visited Cosentino to see the factory, to see the production, to see the materials, to see the process… And the meeting of our process and Cosentino’s process came to a conversation where we were talking about: How do we highlight the potential of Dekton®?
What was your initial vision for the collaboration?
The material that Cosentino produces is incredible. Dekton® is a result of a lot of pressure, short amount of time, a lot of natural materials, to create a very hard-wearing and highly compact material. And we saw this material and thought it could be used for architectural applications. Its size and gravitas should be exploited, and we liked the idea of a relationship to nature. So, thinking about the world around us, how nature interplays with architecture and particularly water. So, if you walk past a building next to water you get reflexions and caustics from water reflecting across the material, and what that does is it makes you look at the material with fresh eyes, and we liked the idea of taking this idea of water and architecture and creating an installation.
Following your visit at Cosentino’s factory, how did the making process of Dekton® further influence and inspire your vision for Raytrace?
What Cosentino is doing is pretty advanced, is pretty technological, and we like the idea to capture that. And the material is produced in a huge slab, so it created this idea of exploiting a canvas. Of taking a material, lots of different finishes of materials and creating a canvas to play with. And how light plays with that canvas became really important.
Have you worked with a material like Dekton® before? How did you approach the material? How is this approach different than other materials you usually work with?
One of the things that makes Layer and our work special is our love of materials. Every project that we start we think about material properties, the potential and how you can use it in unusual ways. When we were presented with Dekton® we had never really used a material like this before, so our first job was to take the material and think about what we can do with it. What would surprise people, what will make people smile when they see it in a new way. And this kind of material driven process was a big part of creating the Raytrace installation.
This installation has an immersive and interactive aspect to it, why did you feel it is important for visitors to be able to have an interactive relationship with the installation?
I am an industrial designer and people come first in our work. We like to think about how people think. How they live now, how they live next. The pressures they might be under, the things they enjoy, the things they don’t enjoy. People are central to design, and an installation is no different. But one of the most important things with an installation is for the people to become part of it. Their presence heightens it and it changes it and it changes other people as well around them. And in Raytrace people are actively changing the lighting effect and actively than changing the impression of the material, the shadows that it creates, how the light falls on them, the relationship to touching the material and the tactile feedback. All of this is important for us, and if we can make people happy and people come out of the installation with smiles on their face than we have done our job.
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