Best designs of 2022: ‘This work is a beacon of hope’ | Design

Gerard Ortiz

What was your favourite design of 2022? We asked creatives and design world insiders for the exhibitions, architecture, furniture and innovations that made this year just a little bit better. Here are their answers.


Diébédo Francis Kére’s Startup Lions ICT Center education campus, Kenya, 2022

Startup Lions Campus in Kenya designed by Kéré Architecture
Startup Lions Campus in Kenya designed by Kéré Architecture Photograph: Kinan Deeb/Kéré Architecture

chosen by Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial, Design Museum

The beauty of Kére’s architecture is its power to create a sense of place. He legitimises this building within its landscape through the use of locally sourced quarry stone with a plaster finish, the mirroring of the natural architecture of surrounding termite mounds, and the careful dialogue between spaces in and around the building. This year, Kére became the first African architect to win the Pritzker Prize and the campus shows the humble generosity and poetry of his work in a part of the world that is still reclaiming its place in global cultural discourse.


Pierre Huyghe’s Variants at Kistefos, Norway

Pierre Huyghe Variants, 2021-ongoing
Pierre Huyghe Variants, 2021-ongoing Photograph: Ola Rindal/Pierre Huyghe

Selected by Anders Byriel, CEO at textile brand, Kvadrat

At the Kistefos sculpture park in Javnaker, near Oslo, the French artist Pierre Huyghe had made a landmark intervention in nature involving a previously inaccessible island that is prone to flooding. His installation includes an LED screen that shows an alternate reality to our world. Also in Oslo, I visited Ekebergparken, where I saw Huma Bhabha’s wild sculpture titled We Come in Peace and it took my breath away.

ProxyAddress Product Physical 001 Original
ProxyAddress Product Physical 001 Original Photograph: Zetteler

Selected by muralist and designer Camille Walala

I love the idea behind ProxyAddress – a brilliant solution to a problem that really shouldn’t exist. If you haven’t got a fixed address, you’re basically cut off from society (everything from GP services to bank accounts). Developed by architect Chris Hildrey, this scheme creates a secure system that offers anyone facing homelessness the chance to borrow a ‘proxy’ address. This virtual address moves with them, reconnecting them with the support and services they need at the time they need them most. ProxyAddress was piloted in London this year, and I’m excited to see it go nationwide in the near future.


Homo Faber 2022 in Venice

12 Stone Garden curated by Naoto Fukasawa. Homo Faber Event 2022
Exhibition space: 12 Stone Garden Curated by Naoto Fukasawa Room: Cenacolo Palladiano Homo Faber Event 2022 Photograph: Alessandra Chemollo/Alessandra Chemollo©Michelangelo Foundation

Picked by editor of Hole & Corner, Tamsin Blanchard

I was blown away by the Homo Faber 2022 event in Venice in a Palladian monastery on San Maggiore island. Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation, it took the form of 15 exhibitions across the island. Of the 850 works on display, the highlight was 12 Japanese Living Treasures designed by Naoto Fukasawa. The Living Treasures are designated to preserve intangible cultural heritage crafts which might otherwise die out, including the worlds of pottery, textiles, dollmaking and lacquerware.


Danish designer Rikke Frost

Oak and silver aluminium Petal Lamp by Rikke Frost.
Oak and silver aluminium Petal Lamp by Rikke Frost. Photograph: Rikke Frost

Chosen by Knud Erik Hansen, CEO of Carl Hansen & Son

When looking back on 2022, one of my personal design highlights is the Danish designer Rikke Frost and her breakthrough on the international design stage. In 2022, Frost has launched several designs and received the Wallpaper Award for her Petal Lamp. She has a refreshing way of combining traditional and contemporary design, and her organic design idiom is achieved through an interesting mix of natural materials and craftsmanship methods.


Body Vessel Clay at Two Temple Place, London

Ladi Kwali
Portrait of Nigerian artist Ladi Kwali Photograph: WA Ismay/ Courtesy of York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

Selected by artist and woodworker Darren Appiagyei

I have to pick the Body Vessel Clay exhibition at Two Temple Place. It was hugely inspiring to see the Nigerian ceramicist Ladi Kwali’s sculptural vessels and to understand the influence she has had on three generations of Black women makers. The exhibition offered a beacon of hope.


RE Morris General Store, Lowestoft High Street, UK

RE Morris General Store at 59, the High Street, Lowestoft.
RE Morris General Store at 59, the High Street, Lowestoft. Photograph:

Chosen by Amber Butchart, dress historian and curator

Lowestoft is my hometown, and this building on the High Street has always fascinated me. It was a Georgian dispensing chemist with an ornate frontage, complete with pharmacist bottles and jars in the windows. I was really sad to see it closed down a couple of years ago. This summer it rose from the ashes as RE Morris General Store stocking hardware goods and kitchenalia. The owners even commissioned a historic paint report so they could take the store back to its original colour, and they’ve kept and restored the original frontage and display. It’s a beautifully designed building filled with beautifully designed, useful things, and it’s a delight to see it flourish when so many of our high streets are in dire trouble. I hope it will be there for another 200 years.

Feminist book from the archive of Designing Motherhood
Feminist book from the archive of Designing Motherhood Photograph: Michelle Millar Fisher

Chosen by Paloma Gormley director of architects practice Material Cultures

I thought the exhibition and beautifully designed book from the Designing Motherhood organisation were important, insightful and intelligently curated. It looks at around 100 design objects that have defined the experience of reproduction and the relationship between mother, child and wider society – from the breast pump to the C-section curtain. A long-overdue, taboo-busting project that kickstarts some much-needed conversations about the impact design and material culture continue to have on the lived reality of motherhood.


Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Desire 1924 – Today at London’s Design Museum

Tour, 1993, by Gae Aulenti.
Tour, 1993, by Gae Aulenti. Photograph: Vitra Design Museum

Selected by artist and designer Morag Myerscough

When I visited this exhibition about how surrealism influenced furniture, fashion and interiors recently, I felt excited. It features work by Man Ray and Leonora Carrington, as well as Schiaparelli. I think it’s the best exhibition the Design Museum has done for a few years. It’s rich with thought-provoking, playful objects.


Dior Pre-Fall menswear collection 2023 show in Egypt

Models walk the runway in front of the Giza Pyramids during the Dior Menswear show.
Models walk the runway in front of the Giza Pyramids during the Dior Menswear show. Photograph: Stéphane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

Selected by Lee Broom, light and furniture designer

My design highlight is something that actually only just happened. I am a big fan of Kim Jones, and particularly everything he does for Dior menswear, and his latest collection for pre-fall 2023 was a feast for the eyes. I love the dramatic location set against the pyramids of Giza and the way that these incredible ancient monuments were illuminated for the show in such a dynamic and creative way. The collection itself was also meticulously executed, which enhanced the whole experience. Every so often there is an epic moment in fashion and I believe that this was one of those.

Fashioning Design: Lee Broom (Rizzoli) is out now


Let Me Hold You at Queercircle, London

Queercircle Artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan Let Me Hold You
Queercircle Artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan Let Me Hold You Photograph: Queercircle

Selected by designer Adam Nathaniel Furman, co-author of Queer Spaces

My favourite exhibition of 2022 was the remarkable, immersive, intensely beautiful and profound ‘Let Me Hold You’ by Michaela Yearwood-Dan, which kicked off the brilliant curatorial programme at Queercircle in Design District, North Greenwich. Michaela’s piece was a genre-defying installation of pure, expressive colour that burned through notions of propriety and the orderliness of binaries, meshing furniture, ceramics, space and conversation into a queer maelstrom of artistic vivacity – what a way for a new Queer Space to appear on the scene!


New Finnish furniture brand Vaarnii

Table, chairs and lampshade by new furniture brand Vaarnii.
Table, chairs and lampshade by new furniture brand Vaarnii. Photograph: Jussi Puikkonen/ussi Puikkonen

Selected by award-winning designer Tom Dixon

One of our people, Antti Hirvonen, went off to create his own brand of brutal furniture in Finnish pine, Vaarnii – I’m very impressed by the single-mindedness of the brand: single material, single aesthetic, many designers.


Eternally Yours at Somerset House, London

Artist Celia Pym at work at Eternally Yours.
Artist Celia Pym at work at Eternally Yours. Photograph: Michele Panzeri/Courtesy of Celia Pym

Selected by Suzie de Rohan Willner, CEO of Toast clothing and homeware

A highlight for me this year was Somerset House’s summer exhibition, Eternally Yours, which explored the unexpectedly hopeful and healing stories that the act of repair reveals. Toast hosted the Renewal workshop space alongside the exhibition, where we gave visitors the opportunity to learn repair skills with our repair specialists and other artists. Coming out of the pandemic, this felt like a fitting cultural moment to explore individual and collective healing.


F51 skatepark in Folkestone, UK

Guy Hollaway’s F51 skate park in Folkestone.
Guy Hollaway’s F51 skate park in Folkestone. Photograph: Matt Rowe

Selected by Oliver Wainwright, Guardian architecture critic

Sometimes the best buildings come about by chance. When architect Guy Hollaway was approached to design a multistorey car park in Folkestone, it just so happened that a nearby skatepark was looking for a new home. The result? What would have been a blunt storage rack of petrol-guzzling machines instead became a thrilling vertical temple to adrenaline – creating a new home for skating, BMXing, climbing and boxing across its undulating floors, its walls covered with lively local street art to boot. May all car parks find such brighter futures.


Italian biomaterials company Orange Fiber

citrus family + fabric horiz
citrus family + fabric horiz Photograph: Luca Distefano

Picked by Ivan Calimani, founder of circular product company Krill Design

We are always inspired by start-ups and innovative projects that help to construct a better world. We appreciate the works of Orange Fiber, an Italian brand that produces vegan fabric sourcing the same material as we do: Sicilian orange peels. We believe biomaterials will contribute to making a positive change in the world, especially if they are manufactured in a short supply chain.


Vases by Welsh sculptor Eleanor Lakelin

Eleanor Lakelin’s column vessels.
Eleanor Lakelin’s column vessels. Photograph: Michael Harvey

Selected by interior designer and leatherworker Bill Amberg

I first saw Welsh sculptor Eleanor Lakelin’s work at Sarah Myerscough’s stand at PAD art fair in London and I was blown away by it. These vases in scorched and oiled horse chestnut are nearly 1.5m high and are beautifully crafted and thoughtful pieces.


Artist Fabien Cappello’s mosaics at Design Miami

Fabien Cappello’s terracotta tiles system produced by Cerámica Suro in Guadalajara, Mexico for AGO Projects.
Fabien Cappello’s terracotta tiles system produced by Cerámica Suro in Guadalajara, Mexico for AGO Projects. Photograph: Julio Rey/courtesy of the artist and AGO Projects

Chosen by Nicolas Pickaerts, co-founder of Abask

I saw design gallery the AGO Project’s joyful colour palette at the Design Miami art fair last month. It really captured my eye. French designer Fabien Cappello’s mosaics for AGO Project remind me of the summer months and alfresco dining – memories I love.

Next Post

The Year I Spent With My Butt Out

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Reilly It was around 90 degrees on the day of Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s spring ’23 show, held on a public tennis court on the Lower East Side in September. My butt was enclothed in a windowpane-sheer vinyl skirt from the brand’s spring ’21 collection that, despite […]
The Year I Spent With My Butt Out

You May Like