Every September, thousands of design enthusiasts from all over the world flock to admire the city’s creativity that The London Design Festival uncovers. Now in its twelfth year and with over 300 events and exhibitions taking place, there’s an incomparable vitality that the Festival never fails to bring to London’s design realm.
Each offering an exciting blend of designers, products, talks and innovations, this week we decided to visit TENT London and 100% Design to see what’s making design tick both in the UK and beyond.
Returning for the 20th edition, 100% Design occupies a special place in the UK design industry’s heart and is, without a doubt, a leading partner to London Design Festival. Divided into a number of distinctive sections such as ‘Ones to Watch’, Kitchens and Bathrooms and Eco Design & Build, the event is easily navigated and exudes the scope of originality and quality that every visitor would expect.
This year the mood of the event was celebratory, with a palpable excitement for the future of design. A shift in direction appeared evident, with exhibitors showcasing designs that were far more accessible in terms of look. Though still pushing boundaries to offer cutting-edge design, the pieces possessed a practicality may have been lacking in previous years.
The Emerging Brands and International Pavilion were particular highlights for us, with the most interesting work displayed in these. A play on shapes, movement and texture crept its way into many product designs and stands, especially through lighting which, for us, was a particular attraction.
Established in 2013, London-born brand and new kid on the block Hope and Hammer really stepped up to the mark with a stunning range of handmade wooden designs that captured the attention of the crowds. Mullan Lighting also proved just how much the filament bulb is impacting design today, while pendant lighting by South African Martin Doller Design offered the perfect balance between form and function.
Talented 22-year old graduate Lewis Nelson’s fabulous seat creation also stood out while the Sand Cast Collection in anodised aluminium and solid fumed oak by Sam Lloyd, one of ‘Heal’s Discovers 2014’ emerging designers, was a talking point. We also liked 100% Design’s Maker Carousel – a collection of workbenches playing host to an array workshops run by design studios – a gem nestled between the design buzz to spark the imagination.
Earls Court Exhibition Centre 2
Held just off Brick Lane in the bustling heart of East London, Tent and its sister show Super Brands London (SBL) form another key part of London Design Festival. Now in their eighth year at the iconic Truman Brewery, Tent and SBL showcase a feast of design related delicacies – from new designers such as Ashley McDow to global brands such as Ligne Roset, Gautier and BoConcept. Alongside these run a series of ‘Super Talks’ curated by the Design Exchange, covering everything from the future of design to an analysis of colour trends in the last decade.
The championing of natural materials and traditional craftsmanship that had dominated earlier shows such as Clerkenwell Design Week remained a key theme throughout the show. However, woven with this familiar trend was the emergence of clean, digitalised prints, pixelated graphics and neon hues; a reflection of our digital age. Though almost the antithesis of one another, the combination of these two concepts was striking.
Paper also seemed to be a popular material of choice and was used in a number of ways to create stunning origami style structures. From textured wallpapers, to geometric shapes held together with paperclips, these pieces were all refreshingly simple and all the more impressive for it.
A highlight of SBL had to be Jake Phipp’s ‘Lost at Sea’; a black lacquered console table adorned with gold barnacles – a touch of whimsy that stood out amid a sea of minimal design. At Tent, Zoe Murphy’s upcycled furniture and bold screen-printed graphics made for a particularly vibrant addition as did the stunning hand-painted designs of Ashley McDow. Also catching our eye was Flock, a freshly launched textile company dedicated to promoting British talent. With a gorgeous collection of handpicked fabrics designed by UK graduates, they showcased an exciting variety of pattern, that was fresh and forward thinking.
Old Truman Brewery
London E1 6QR