Design duo Birgitta Ralston and Alexandre Bau have been working together since 2001, when they established their studio in Paris. Ralston was born in Portland, Maine and raised in Sweden and London, studying abstract design in Tucson, Arizona, then graphic design in Gothenburg. She ran a design studio in Paris for 10 years, where she met Metz-born Bau, who had studied design in Reims and Rennes. Together they worked on restaurant design and other visual work, until an artists' residency programme took them to the west coast of Norway. They set up the Transplant creative centre on the shores of Dalsfjord in 2007, and now spend their time between there, Bergen and Paris.
Their work in furniture, objects and public-space design, places an emphasis on innovation and sustainability (Bau is an evaluator for the European Commission on innovative material proposals). Their studio is responsible for the Ideal Lab design and art programme, which focuses on driving forward meaningful design within clear social contexts. Les Lamaneurs, one of the works they are exhibiting at 100% Norway, is a strong example of this ethos. Inspired by the 1950s architecture that characterises the docking houses of Saint-Nazaire in Brittany and in response to the port’s functional A-to-B attitude, Ralston & Bau designed an urban furniture series that invites Nazariens to take a break, sit down, slow down and enjoy the social life of their city. It exists in four versions, each tailored to one of the rituals of working port life: Lunch Break, Coffee Break, Long Watch and Power Nap.
Their second product series is The Pathics, a collaboration with ceramic artist Cecilie Haaland, that considers the relationship between the artistic, the artisanal and the designed, in a range of domestic objects that demonstrate empathic qualities by making life easier through simplicity, single-purpose functionality and a sense of welcome.
Photos by Siren Lauvdal