Practical magic | Paul Cocksedge’s joyful, people-centred counterpoint to tech alienation

Paul Cocksedge will be bringing his humanistic designs to the 2020 Design Indaba stage

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London-based Paul Cocksedge has worked on projects as diverse as a flower-powered light, a canopy for the world’s largest botanical gardens, and furniture that fuses different metals through a freezing process.

It’s impossible to pigeonhole the restlessly inventive Cocksedge, who studied industrial design at Sheffield Hallam University and product design under Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art in London. Few people are more adept at seeing everyday problems that cry out for design solutions – and he’s intent upon solving these problems in elegant and unexpected ways.

The award-winning designer, who has made work for blue-chip clients including BMW, the City Council of Milan, Hermès, Swarovski, the Wellcome Trust and Sony, founded his internationally acclaimed Paul Cocksedge Studio in 2004, with Joana Pinho (she is the director of the studio).

He has largely focused on people-centred designs that make life better for humankind. Most of his works function as a counterpoint to the alienation that can come with technological progress – they encourage interaction and joyful engagement.

His public installation ‘Please Be Seated’, commissioned for the London Design Festival and British Land, is at once beautiful, functional and eco-aware. Made of upcycled scaffolding planks, the quirky communal bench-cum-sculpture creates a space for one to sit or lie down and relax without impeding the progress of people walking across busy Finsbury Avenue Square.

‘Drop’, an installation that depicts a buckled outsized coin that perches on its side, functions as a magnet to which passers-by can affix their spare change for a charitable cause.


‘The Living Staircase’, designed for the Ampersand office building in Soho, London, fosters much-needed self-care time at work – workers tend the plants growing on the balustrade, relax at the tea bar, and seek inspiration at the library – carved-out spaces contained within the unconventional sweeping structure that has no central column.

There is something magical about Cocksedge’s humanistic designs, however practical they may be, largely because his curiosity and sense of exploration spill over into everything he creates. Don’t miss his inspiring talk at #DI2020!

Follow Paul Cocksedge on Instagram: @paulcocksedge

Follow Paul Cocksedge on Facebook: @paulcocksedgeST

For a glimpse at Cocksedge’s first solo exhibition at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York, visit:

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About Design Indaba:

The globally acclaimed Design Indaba Conference was established in 1995 and has evolved into a multidisciplinary platform that champions the creative sectors. Its guiding principle is a Better World Through Creativity.