Magnus Long is a British designer working within spatial, furniture, product and lighting design.
We chat to the London-based designer about discovering his talent, developing ideas and his exclusive design collaboration with The Conran Shop.
How did you discover you had a talent for furniture design?
Out of all of the types of design I do, furniture is particularly fulfilling and attractive because of its subtle complexities and its completeness. It’s a very human scale of building and requires sensitivity to form, beauty and identity along with an understanding of engineering, craft and construction. These are all things I have always been drawn to ever since I was able to connect two objects together, but perhaps it’s noticeable now because over the last few years I have had the opportunity to work with some great clients, such as The Conran Shop, who have more resources and can bring these objects to an audience.
What comes first – the materials or the design idea?
For this collection we always intended there to be flexibility to combine different materials and finishes, so it’s been designed with a view for The Conran Shop being able to offer various options in their stores. There are always many factors to consider for any one design and the starting point changes depending on the reason for starting the project. My way of working is to collect as much useful information, which is often related to people and behaviours, and to define the project’s constraints, which usually includes materiality and construction. From there it quickly becomes a slightly daunting cloud of complexity which needs to be mapped and understood. There’s a lot of analysis, idea generation, modelling and visits to factories and (hopefully) an elegant solution emerges during that time – simplicity from complexity.
Describe a really good day in the Magnus Long Design Studio…
Model-making is incredibly fruitful for building ideas; for understanding construction for manufacture and refining an identity. I’m quite a rationalist at heart and enjoy starting with simple materials such as card, paper or wooden sticks to see how far an idea can go. As the design gets scaled-up, the detail and beauty begin to reveal themselves more and more, but it’s nice to keep the relationship with its origins alive, which you may see in some of the designs.
Tell us about your latest collaboration with The Conran Shop…
We have been working on designs for The Conran Shop since 2013. Some designs were already on our drawing boards when we began talking together, but others were brought to life from the direction and conversations with the amazing team at The Conran Shop.
We created quite a number of different families for The Conran Shop (there’s still more to come), some are quite expressive and others more subtle. All of the designs have various scale models which were built as part of our process, but probably the one I enjoy the most is the construction of the legs of the Stix table. It started life as five cocktail sticks with a piece of bent wire around the waist then twisted and splayed. The structure created is a circular array of triangles so it’s very strong. We went through a few different construction options, but for me the resulting turned wooden legs combined with a solid aluminium disc is a really delightful piece of engineering. Once you get to this stage the stakes can be high because of tooling and lesser companies would back away from making such an investment, so it’s great to work with The Conran Shop, who are prepared to invest in getting the design right and not compromise the original vision.
How would you describe the collection in five words?
Elegant, rational construction with beautiful materials. That’s six words – sorry!
What advice would you give to anyone interested in becoming a designer?
The exclusive Magnus Long for The Conran Shop collection is available in store and online now.
Artist Nadia Roden started making gourmet artisan ice lollies in the summer of 2011 in New York City. She began selling her ice lollies at the High Line Park, and was soon joined by her nephew Cesar to help her keep up with demand. When Cesar brought the business back to London in 2013, Ice Kitchen was born.
To coincide with the release of their first recipe book, Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes, the creative duo will be treating customers to ice lolly tastings from their popular ice lolly cart at The Conran Shop in Marylebone on Wednesday 13th August.
Ahead of this mouth-watering event, we chat to Nadia about what goes into the perfect ice lolly, favourite flavours and her plans for the future.
What kick-started your passion for ice lollies?
I’ve always had a passion for ices and in 2009 I came across a photo of a leaf frozen inside a transparent ice lolly, my mind filled with all sorts of combinations that could be frozen on a stick, it was exciting and playful and I was unstoppable. My nephew Cesar came to help and then he became unstoppable.
What processes do you go through before arriving at the perfect ice lolly?
I imagine how flavours may complement each other, I especially love how opposites attract, like citrus and cream or sweet and sour and it’s intriguing how a spice or herb can bring out an aspect of a fruit that we wouldn’t otherwise notice, like pairing star anise and grapefruit or tarragon and peach, the combinations are endless. Sometimes Cesar and I are inspired by classics from around the world and try to reconstruct them as a lolly, such as the pistachio and rose combination from Egypt or the cassata from Sicily. A lot of teamwork!
How much do you draw on your background as an award-winning artist when creating an ice lolly?
Playing with colour is quite similar to playing with flavour. If you mix too many together it turns to brown, but if you respect the uniqueness of each and allow some magic to happen when you combine, there is alchemy in the mouth. As an artist I draw very much on intuition and I think cooking is also very intuitive. I think all arts are interrelated, music, cooking, painting, science and even the art of business, that’s also intuitive and inspired when it’s at its best.
What are your favourite flavours from your new book Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes?
Ruby Grapefruit & Campari for its amazing zing, Pistachio & Rose as it’s inspired by an old family pudding and the Peach & Tarragon reminds me of Provence. I also love the Spanish Sherry & Raisin for its dark complexity – when we gave one to the US Poet Laureate Mark Strand, he told us that it was the best dessert he had ever tasted – pure poetry to our ears.
Why do you think there is growing demand for artisan street food?
Many years ago I travelled alone through South Korea and what I found most exciting was the street food, people sat outside at communal tables, there were so many different delights to choose from and I tried as many as possible, it felt like an endless party, a very sociable experience. Apart from bringing strangers together around food and adding to the pleasures of life, it’s often more affordable for both the customer and the chef who isn’t tied to a set place and a high rent.
Cesar’s Ice Kitchen street carts are hugely popular, he’s also part of a group called KERB that pop up at locations all around London. People are surprised and delighted to be able to buy something that is homemade with fresh pure ingredients and so delicious – he gets instant feedback from customers.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to create a range of ice lollies for the Opera in New York City, with flavours inspired by each opera. Cesar is having a lot of fun with Ice Kitchen in London – there’ll be a range a cocktail ice lollies available this Christmas and he plans to sell to movie theatres.
In November, I’m doing an ‘Ice Show’ in New York City, collaborating with a scientist and a musician; we’re putting on a show that will involve shaved ice, patterns in ice formation and musical instruments made of ice. Of course the audience will get to taste everything.
Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes by Nadia and Cesar Roden is available to buy in store. For more details on the Ice Kitchen event at our Marylebone store click here.
Photography: Adam Slama
Nothing sings summer quite like an ice lolly in the sunshine. Celebrating one of life’s most nostalgic pleasures is Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes – a playful recipe book by aunt and nephew team Nadia and Cesar Roden. The creative duo will bring their popular ice lolly cart to The Conran Shop in Marylebone on Wednesday 13th August.
Between 1pm-3pm, customers can enjoy complimentary ice lollies with three mouth-watering flavours to choose from: Orange & Lemon, Strawberry & Black Pepper (dipped in white or dark chocolate) and Pistachio & Rose (rolled in pistachios or almonds).
Best bit? You can buy a copy of their book in store and create your favourite flavour combinations at home and enjoy time and time again. Kick-start your ice lolly revolution with these lusciously lickable and easy to make recipes taken from the book:
Both recipes make 8-10 ice lollies. There are many ready-made moulds to choose from in different shapes and sizes, and made from plastic, metal or silicone. For both recipes, a 10 x 2.5-oz. (70-ml) lolly mould yields 8–10 ice lollies.
When filling the moulds leave about 5mm at the top to allow the mixture to expand as it freezes. To unmould, carefully immerse the moulds in hot water (we use the kitchen sink) for about 10–20 seconds, making sure to dip them right up to just below the top rim, then pull hard on the sticks to yank them out.
Photography: Adam Slama
Pistachio & Rose
I loved the Egyptian milk pudding called ‘muhallabeya’ that my mother used to make for me as a child. She sprinkled it with pistachios and scented it with rose water. Several years ago when she came to visit me, she helped me to recreate it in this lolly.
500ml whole milk
250ml double cream
125g granulated sugar
3 teaspoons rose water (rose waters vary in strength, so adjust to taste)
40g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
Put 3 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl and mix in the cornflour to form a smooth paste. Pour the remaining milk, the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat until just about to simmer, then stir in the cornflour paste. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Allow to thicken, stirring constantly, for a further 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in the rose water and allow to cool to room temperature.
Stir the pistachios into the mixture until well blended, reserving a few for coating the lollies. Pour the mixture into your ice-lolly moulds, leaving 5mm at the top to allow the mixture to expand when it freezes. Insert the lolly sticks and freeze.
When you are ready to enjoy the lollies, roll them in more chopped pistachios.
Photography: Adam Slama
Raspberry & Lime
This is sweet and tangy with a subtle undercurrent of lime. We don’t strain out the raspberry seeds for the carts and most people have no problem with that – in fact they love the realness of it. But if you prefer a smooth, silky texture we recommend straining the mixture through a fine sieve.
210g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
500g raspberries, rinsed
2–3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Put the sugar, lime zest and 100ml of the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
Put the raspberries in a food processor with the lime syrup and the remaining water and blend to a purée. Add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and taste to see if it’s sharp enough. If not, add a little more to achieve an equal balance of sweet and sharp.
Pour the mixture into your ice-lolly moulds, leaving 5mm at the top to allow the mixture to expand when it freezes. Insert the lolly sticks and freeze.
For more details on the Ice Kitchen event at our Marylebone store click here.