British furniture maker Benchmark has unveiled Iklwa, its newest collection designed by rising talent Mac Collins, in what is the designer’s first ever consumer collection. Benchmark has a longstanding history in supporting young designers, from Sebastian Cox to Russell Pinch and Thomas Heatherwick, all of whom have now established themselves as renowned designers in the UK and beyond.
Benchmark first came across Mac Collins at the London Design Fair in September 2018, when the Nottingham-based designer was announced as the winner in the inaugural Cræftiga Awards for his Indigo-blue Iklwa chair. Since then Benchmark has worked in close collaboration with the designer to merge his design with its making know-how and craft, creating a collection inspired by the original design.
Together with Benchmark, Collins has created a collection that fuses his African-Caribbean roots with British craft, a reflection of his upbringing in Nottingham as a child of British and British Caribbean parents. Comprising of a big lounge chair, a second smaller lounge chair and side table, the Iklwa family is derived from Collins’ original design and will be crafted in ash and oak, available in either an Earth Orange stain or a classic white oil.
Collins’ composition of powerful, spear-like forms is in tune with the ideas of Afrocentrism and Afrofuturism. Much like a throne, the visually intense high back of the Iklwa Lounge Chair is intended to frame, enhance, and empower those who sit in it. Added to this are the Iklwa Small Lounge Chair and the Iklwa Side Table, where Collins has continued the design language with a wide backrest and spear-like table legs.
On his first-ever collection, Collins says:
‘It has been an honest and fulfilling process to work alongside Benchmark on this collection. I am glad to have pursued this venture with a British-based furniture maker with such integrity. It feels right to enable the design to have a wider reaching effect than I could have catalysed, and Benchmark have been a sincere and supportive partner in making this happen’.