Well-Stacked: 5 Designers Make Objects Fun Again with Playful Takes on the "Totem"

Here are five up-and-comers translate those ideals with bright colors and bold geometries that create a new modern design language.

Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Stacked from floor to ceiling or scaled down for table display, the totemic design products by today's group of emerging talent continues the tradition that Milan-based architect Ettore Sottsass began with the famous Memphis design group in the '80s, which made cold, machine-age products friendly, lively, and even sexy (for more on this, see the video below).

Here, five up-and-comers translate those ideals with bright colors and bold geometries to create childlike riffs on the totem pole.

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Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Totem Lights, Jamie Julien-Brown for Darkroom

For this collaboration, the artist and designer Jamie Julien-Brown stacks vintage and unusual glass and ceramic lampshades high on a ceramic tile base. Each Totem Light is unique, varying in size, color, and character.

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Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Magneto Tableware and Coffee Table, Patrick Laing

Hand-turned beechwood tableware stacks neatly to create varying sculptural forms that delight the eyes—and the tastebuds. Magnets secure any combination of bowls, plates, cups, candelabras, tea lights, and and even an egg cup to create a specially designed coffee table.

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Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Element Vessel, Vitamin Design

Mix and match your choice of shapes and materials—marble, wood, glass, rose gold, polished steel, plastic and cork—to design your own vessel. Top off your bespoke configuration (limited to an edition of ten) with a glass neck and cork stopper for a completely unique conversation starter (pictured at very top and above).

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Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Shrines Cabinet, Dean Brown for Goodd

Described as micro-furniture for display, you can think of Dean Brown's Shrines for Scottish design brand Goodd as oak curio cabinets for the modern man. Each unit includes bespoke blown glassware and hand-painted patterns.

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Photos courtesy of respective brands.

Identity Parade, Adam Nathaniel Furman for London Design Museum

As part of this year's Designers in Residence program at the London Design Museum, Adam Nathaniel Furman responded to the prompt, "How can design reflect a sense of identity?" by constructing 3D-printed ceramic totems to populate its own "cabinet of curiosities." We're sensing a theme here; one more curio cabinet and we might have a new trend on our hands.

—LinYee Yuan. Follow her on Twitter at @linyee

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