The digital world might seem antithetical to that of craft; aesthetically speaking, computer-generated design often looks cold and clinical compared with the warmth and personality of handcrafted pieces. Yet a new fashion and homeware e-commerce site, Dsigndot, sees the two as complementary, even mutually beneficial. Indeed, it takes advantage of the internet’s potential to showcase and champion experimental, limited-edition or one-off work.
Some of the designers featured on the site actually fuse digital design and craft. For example, Chinese-born Zhang Zhoujie digitally produces stainless-steel triangles, which he hand-assembles to make his gleaming, futuristic chairs (first picture, £2,800). Similarly, Liam Hopkins’ geometric Vega lampshade (£240) is laser-cut and hand-folded.
Dsigndot is the brainchild of architects and designers Swati Sharma and Kevin McClellan. Both once worked with Zaha Hadid, while Sharma has also developed products for Swarovski. Their passion for avant-garde, truly individual design inspired them to set up Dsigndot. “Many sites dedicated to design seem too commercial and unexciting,” they say. “Yet the internet is a great way to introduce people to fresh ideas and possibilities globally.”
Dsigndot certainly does that. And, with its designers egged on to push boundaries, their wares are often wonderfully outlandish. Take Alidra Alic’s resin and silver rings that sprout gigantic, astoundingly naturalistic blooms – orchids (right in second picture), arum lilies (left in second picture), irises and hyacinths (all price on request). Then there are Atalanta Weller’s extravagantly conceptual “is it a sculpture or a shoe?” creations, such as her towering Big Shoes wedges (available from late February) – yes, Lady Gaga is a customer – although her Kili spike-heel shoes with a chic zigzag-print strap (third picture, £400) are eminently wearable. Meanwhile, Hadid’s and fellow architect Patrik Schumacher’s high-gloss black table with a partly hollow top (price on request) explores the limits of functionality.
One of Dsigndot’s criteria when picking pieces is that they should have a use. Yet, admit Sharma and McClellan, “in many cases, we simply fall for the fanciful and thought provoking”.