Being selected as one of the international designers to exhibit work at Spazio Rossana Orlandi during Milan Design Week is the equivalent of winning a Golden Ticket. In a week when the city is thronging with designers all vying for attention, this is one of the most prized showcases in town. One of the chosen few was the New York-based, British designer Anna Karlin, who presented a range of furniture and lighting. Her work is an artful blend of organic, contemporary shapes in wood, brass, marble and glass.
Anna studied visual communication at Central Saint Martins and Glasgow School of Art, then joined a London design agency that was behind the branding and graphics for several fashion, music and beauty brands. She moved to New York in 2010 because she fancied an adventure and continued working in art direction. Two years later, she decided to branch into furniture: ‘I wanted to start making permanent pieces,’ she explains. Self-taught, but buoyed by the fact that she had built countless temporary sets, Anna started making models. ‘I worked out what I wanted to create, rather than what was possible in terms of manufacturing, and then set about getting it made,’ she explains. ‘I once found a metal worker in New York’s Chinatown who made industrial kitchens and went in clutching a weird prototype for a stool.’
What is striking is the diversity of materials and styles in the collection. There are copper-plated steel chess piece stools (seen above, one of her first designs, which has become a bestseller), a contemporary take on Windsor chairs (seen above) and ‘Dimple’ table lamps, which balance a marble sphere between a brass cube and an egg-shaped glass light. Most of the furniture is made in the US, but the glassware comes from the Czech Republic, and the textiles from Turkey and Japan. Anna’s work is now stocked in galleries across the world, and is available from Paul Smith in London and 1stdibs.