After trying gallantly to squeeze all of the London Design Festival 2016 into one enormous post, Design daily has admitted defeat and is presenting London Design Festival 2016 - PART 2. Having covered a number of installations in the first instalment, this post is far more product driven - although many of the pieces shown of quite an esoteric nature.
Metalsmith Juliette Bigley delights in manipulating metal to create domestic objects such as bowls and vases but is more interested in their potential as sculptural rather than functional objects. The hand made work often traces the line of a vessel or flattens it into an almost 2-D form. Showing as part of A Future Made, a group exhibition of 14 British crafts people artists and designers selected by craft and design experts such as Mark Eley, Catherine Lock and Max Fraser for the New Craftsmen, a body whose mission is to show the brilliance of contemporary British craft to the rest of the world. Within the A Future Made selection of 14, six were chosen to showcase in a smaller exhibition at Tent London in the Old Truman Brewery site near London's Spitalfields Market. The exhibition entitled Nature Lab showed a group of artists and crafts people working in extraordinary ways with natural materials that varied from bee 'resin' to salt ice moulded glass.
It takes someone special to invent a whole new material in which to work but that is what French -born Marléne Huissoud has done with her From Insects pieces. Originally developed as part of her graduating project from the Central Saint Martins’ School of Art and Design in 2014, she has continued working in this strange material, mastering techniques borrowed from the glass blowing industry but customised and applied to the bee resin material known as propolis. Each vessel is drawn out under low heat (the bee resin needs to be worked at around 100 degrees celsius unlike glass that melts of temperatures of 1200 degrees) using callipers and a blowing pipe and worked by hand to create intricately textured surfaces and organic shapes. Huissoud also showed her unique work as part of Mint Gallery's White Canvas show during the festival and as part of the Burberry Makers House (a collaboration between Burberry and the New Craftsmen). For more information on Huissaoud's From Insects work take a look at a short video here. Her most recent work Of Insects and Men can be seen in a video here.
Brought up in a remote Welsh village, Eleanor Lakelin was an English teacher in Europe and West Africa before a renovation project convinced her to retrain as a cabinet maker. For the last twenty years, Lakelin has dedicated herself to her artistic practice and honed her skills to a point where all manner of traditional woodturning and carving methods are combined with more unusual methods such as microwaving and sandblasting, to realise her exotic vessels. The provenance of the timber is of particular importance to her with reference always given to the place where the wood came from and when the tree was planted - many being several hundred of years old. Lakeland only uses wood from trees felled in the British Isles and in particular Ash and Horse Chestnut Burr.
2015 was a stellar year for Marcin Rusak. HIs Flora series of objects shown during London Design Festival gained worldwide attention and led to exhibitions around the globe. At this year's show Rusak showed a new table lamp 'Flora table lamp II' as one of the six designers selected for the New Craftsmen's Nature Lab. This new light has a much more deco feel than his previous Flora lamp, consisting of a disc of his black resin material mounted on a silver base. The base radiates light through it's curved surface catching the magic of the petal laced resin sheet above. You can see more of Rusak's incredible work in a previous Design daily post here.
The inaugural London Design Biennale at Somerset House was mentioned in the London Design Festival - Part 1 post and it was here that Swedish designer Kajsa Willner revealed her wonderful Layers tables - a set of three coffee tables that can be moved around to create interesting visual effects due to the repeating nature of the layered colours. Made from Valchromat - a type of coloured MDF, the rigid geometric qualities and interlocking possibilities of the design throw up some wonderful directional interplay when horizontal and vertical stripes meet.
As the intention of the London Design Biennale was to bring producers and designers closer together, Australian-born Swedish designer Glen Baghurst chose to collaborate with traditional Swedish bell maker M&E Ohlssons Klockgjuteri who he had worked with previously on a cast brass champagne table. Baghurst created a contemporary version of the type of wall clock that once hung from many an impressive shop facade or prominent public building. The 'Ceiling clock' as the name suggests can be mounted on ceiling or wall and as it is made from cast aluminium, the clock has a suitably massive appearance while remaining surprisingly light. 15 leading Swedish designers presented new work including Lisa Hilland with Kullaro, Louise Hederström with Studio Carina Grefmar and Dan Ihreborn with Emmaboda Granit, to name just a few.
While not part of the Swedish pavilion at the London Design Biennale, Alexander Lervik was wowing the crowds with his beautifully simple 'Dimma' chair table and stool designs at . Although an outwardly simple design, the circular perforated metal seats and backs are produced by the only company capable of doing so in Sweden. Launched at Stockholm Furniture Fair in February the 'Dimma' range was making its British debut as part of Super Brands at Tent London. Wervik also presented a number of other perforated products for TIngest including a watch called 'Bikupa' and a cast metal pendant lamp called 'Mikrofon' (shown below). The designer also had several new pieces with Swedish producer Johanson on show at 100% Design.
Another cool wire product that caught the eye was a limited edition release of H Furniture's 'WW' chair. Normally offered in timber wit black or white wire the collection is being offered for a limited time in multicolour combinations.
Raw Material is a British company specialising in stone furniture lighting and accessories but its in side tables that they seem to particularly excel. Their range of incredible marble tables is constantly evolving as new combinations present themselves. What is particular interesting in this era of cnc machined stone is the meeting of jointed components with lathe turned columns and tops. The result has a fantastic energy as seen below in their 'Assemble 02' table.
Commissioned by London gallery Matter of Stuff for its Curated by MOS exhibition, the ‘Marque’ collection by Alessandro Zambelli consists of storage elements and a coffee table - all featuring metal facades and surfaces created by inlaying with metal shapes treated so as to reveal subtle colour variations. The result, as one might expect, is similar to a standard timber marquetry cabinet but with the shimmering low sheen and unique patina of metal. The collection was developed and produced during the Matter of Stuff Designer Residency program in Montalcino, Italy. Matter of Stuff was founded by Simona Auteri and Sofia Steffenoni in 2014. The gallery co-ordinates a community of designers, manufacturers and film makers to promote a culture where craftsmanship is at the heart of every creation.
In total contrast to the hardness of folded and cut metal is the latest project from London based designers Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers). Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves formed Studio Swine in 2010 and have been breaking new ground in materials and research driven concepts (such as stools made from sea plastic debris and products made from a human hair and resin composite) ever since. Their latest project entitled Fordlandia was on show at Fashion Space Gallery in the London College of Fashion in Soho through the period of the London Design Festival and will continue until December 10.
The exhibition is based on the premise that the town of Fordlandia, situated in the Amazon jungle had never failed and been abandoned but become a place where nature and industry entered into a symbiotic relationship. It sounds like the synopsis of a trashy sci-fi movie but the town did actually exist. Created by Henry Ford in the late 1920's to support a rubber plantation he was obsessed with, the land was eventually sold off in 1945 after Ford had pumped 20 million dollars into it and it had become a place where knife fights and riots had become a regular occurrence and where venereal disease was rife. The work documents certain aspects of the history of Fordlandia while showcasing a number of products designed by Studio Swine in a type of of hard rubber called Ebonite. The designers have produced the two chairs shown above and a floor lamp among other smaller objects using Ebonite. The exhibition also includes contributions by Kristen Gallerneaux, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Lily Cole, Ligaya Salazar and Karel Veselý. You can read an extended blog post on the project here.
Hong Kong born British designer Samuel Chan has been operating his own studio in London for 20 years and to coincide with this milestone Chan and Laurence King Publishing have released a fitting monograph to the man and his beautifully crafted work. As luck would have it, two of Chan's recent designs were awarded Design Guild Marks a short while prior to the festival commencing. These were for last year's new releases, the precarious looking but perfectly sturdy 'Column' bookshelves and the 'Magnus' chair, shown below, that exhibits a finely tuned expression of randomness across its seat and back.
The awards are given each year to designs judged to promote excellence within the industry and that are deemed to raise the profile of British design and innovation. The award recognises the highest standards in the design of furniture for volume production, by designers working in Britain, or by British designers working abroad. You can purchase Samuel Chan, Design Purity and Craft Principles, here. If you live outside of Australia it might be better for you to purchase it here.
Benjamin Hubert's Layer studio has been working on a chair called Pair™ for Danish brand Fritz Hansen for 3 years. The results of this dedication was revealed during LDF 2016. After 30 prototypes I think Hubert would be pretty confident in saying they got it just right. The chair is a stacking design that comes with or without arms and with a sled leg or standard 4 leg base. The real point of difference however is the melding of a moulded plywood seat and a polycarbonate back. According to the press releases the polycarbonate is 10% transparent so that it has a glossier, more refined finish, resembling glass, elevating the humble plastic material to new heights. On top of this the plywood seat comes in 2 colours and oak veneer. The upholstered version comes in forty fabric options while the back comes in 5 colours. Layer is the first British studio or designer to have designed a product for Fritz Hansen.
While we are on the subject of chairs we might as well delve into Samuel Wilkinson's 'Brace' chair that Design daily absent mindedly forgot to include in last week's post. This is a beautiful chair that further reinforces the recent trend for reinventing the bentwood style. Wilkinson's website claims that the benefit of steam bent timber is that smaller dimensions can be used to provide the neccessary strength for a chair rather than milling from larger sections, making the chair more cost effective and sustainable. I just love its simple looping form regardless of whether it does much thats new. Certainly the seat construction is a new addition to the bentwood style as it is a solid piece of machined ash that floats on top of the chair's under frame.
Somehow the open soft loops of the back and arms add a contemporary feel that is at once familiar yet pleasantly different. The chair comes in natural steam bent ash or in black or cobalt blue stains. The blue version shown above is quite wonderful - particularly due to the fact that it is heavily sandblasted prior to staining to bring out the timbers inherent grain structure. You can watch a short film on the making of the 'Brace' chair here.
The Rug Company launched a host of new designs at LDF this year with rugs by Kelly Wearstler, Lorenzo Castillo Elie Saab, Alexandra Champalimaud and more. The standout for Design daily was Vivienne Westwood's quietly potent 'Thistle' rug shown below. The Rug Company is a British institution founded by Christopher & Suzanne Sharp, that has been delivering amazing hand knotted rugs from Nepal since the late 90's. Their contemporary designs are generally collaborations with some truly outstanding talent from the worlds of fashion and design such as Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen, Barber Osgerby and Diane von Furstenberg.