Established & Sons not only designs but also manufactures in Britain, in partnership with industrial firm Caparo. With a purity of form that occasionally verges on the brutalist (the M5 table, by a duo called Frank, is inspired by a motorway bridge), its style is eclectic and hugely in demand. A wholesale showroom will open in London "by December," says Willis, and plans are proceeding for a retail store in Manhattan sometime next year. Willis adds that the Crate is starting a "family of five further products" he certainly knows how to keep those tongues wagging.
Hip British furniture makers Established & Sons know how to throw a party after all, its chief executive, Alasdhair Willis, is Mr. Stella McCartney. During the London Design Festival in September, the company hired an elegant townhouse overlooking the Buckingham Palace garden to celebrate its first birthday. With the Beatles (naturally) on the soundtrack, guests checked out such new pieces as the Drift bench a sort of curvy, double-decker surfboard, designed by Amanda Levete of architects Future Systems. In two collections to date, this supergroup of 10 (and rising) contemporary talents (up-and-coming British designers Mark Holmes and Sebastian Wrong are founder directors) has turned out hit after hit. Last December, a prototype of architect Zaha Hadid's room-defining Aqua table sold at auction for $296,000. This year, Jasper Morrison's multipurpose Crate has become the design world's most hotly debated creation. It began life as an old wine box that Morrison was using for bedside storage. Now, after the designer's eureka moment, consumers can pay $180 for essentially the same item. Ready-made genius or marketing baloney? The jury remains split.