Only one short month after our friend Andree Putman passed away in Paris, the design community grieves the loss of another talented designer, James Irvine. Known for his simple and functional designs, Irvine focused on creating work that consumers would connect with emotionally and not buy simply because they desire the cultural status often associated with high-design.
Born in London and inspired by Achille Castiglioni, Irvine attended the city’s Royal College of Art. Upon graduating in 1984, he moved to Milan where he served as design consultant for Olivetti while at the same time collaborating with design greats Ettore Sottsass and Michele de Lucchi. He spent a year away from Milan in 1987-1988 to direct the design research division at Toshiba in Tokyo. He returned to Milan to become partner of Sottsass Associati. It was then that he also opened his own design practice where, in 1992, he collaborated with close friend Jasper Morrison to organize Progetto Oggetto for Cappellini. The Progetto Oggetto collection has grown to include other internationally renown designers and friends of Luminaire such as the Bouroullec Brothers, Marcel Wanders and Nendo.
Some of his most famous work includes the marble Mimmo dining table he created as Art Director of Marsotto and the Bentwood Collection he designed for Muji while Creative Director at Thonet. The rotating Radar chair for B&B Italia, with both an adjustable headrest and an ottoman, was designed as a relaxing oasis for the home, where one could, in his words, “chat on the phone, read the paper, contemplate the future, contemplate the past.” His stackable, swivel storage unit Box can likewise be found in Luminaire showrooms.
In addition to B&B Italia, Marosotto and Muji, many more of his clients included Luminaire partners, among them Alias, Artemide, Foscarini, Magis and MDF Italia. We will always remember him fondly for his contribution to the 2011 installment of our philanthropic love series, DesignLove, to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
Saddened as we are by the loss, we remember Irvine’s contributions to design and the endearing legacy leaves for future designers across the globe.