Writing about a huge event from afar is bound to be a fraught process with omissions of wonderful products and installations but Design daily has done its best to create a small snapshot of what went on in London from the 16th through to the 24th of September. Always a fair that revels in installations, London Design Festival continued along these lines with excellent weather helping to ensure that this, the 15th edition of the festival, was extremely well attended, breaking attendance records left, right and centre.
The V&A which has become the heart of the London Design Festival, delivered two highly viewed installations; Reflection Room by Flynn Talbot and Transmission by Ross Lovegrove. The museum saw unprecedented attendance levels with over 173,000 people walking through its doors - an increase of 57% on last year's numbers. Reflection Room saw Talbot install 56 floor-to-ceiling black mirror polished Barrisol panels in the museum's Prince Consort Gallery. The 35m long room was lit by contrasting coloured light from the two ends - orange at one end and blue at the other. The reflections of visiting people, colour and architecture were sliced and replicated in a myriad of ways creating a highly interactive and emotionallly charged light experience.
British wallpaper company Cole & Son presented a masterful display of some of their iconic wallpapers such as Flamingoes, Palm Leaves and Hummingbirds, in a a range of soft Miami-style pastel colours. While Cole & Son are synonymous with British heritage and classic English good taste, the company likes to show how their wallpapers can keep up with interior trends purely through colour selection. Their 'Miami' wallpaper is shown immediately below with a close up of 'Flamingos' shown left and 'Palm Leaves' (as it appeared at the installation) on the right.
While talking about the indulgent use of colour at LDF it is only fitting to mention both the Villa Walala installation at Broadgate and design darlings Dimore Studio's installation at the Mazzoleni Gallery in Mayfair. French artist Camille Walala trained in textile design at the University of Brighton and now lives in east London. In recent times she has made her name collaborating on pattern-based projects - murals, interiors and pop-up installations, including a temporary pedestrian crossing outside the Tate Modern for last year's LDF. Her clients include Converse, Le Printemps, and Facebook but her passion seems to be around inserting colourful interventions into architectural landscapes. Her flamboyantly patterned installation brought bucketloads of Memphis overtones to an area full of drab office buildings.
Just before showing the DimoreGallery installation at Mazzoleni, it seemed appropriate to move from Villa Walala to the 'Splat' ceramics of Liverpool's Granby Workshop and Assemble Studio. Made from blobs of coloured clay combined then squashed in a hydraulic press, the range of tableware ends up with a bizarrely Memphis-style decorative look. As the process is random, no two objects are ever alike. The 'Splat' collection was made possible by funding from a Kickstarter campaign and was used by the online funding platform as an example of how the funding model can allow quirky ideas to become reality. The project is still seeking funding through to the 5th of October so jump online here if you want to be part of its development into an ongoing product range and check out a video on how the product is made at the same time. Currently it has already surpassed its £40,000 target raising £71,120 at the time of this post.
Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci have reached near legendary status in the design world with their annual studio shows in Milan causing queues to form down several floors and out onto the street. Bringing their eclectic style to London, the duo presented their DimoreGallery show called (Un)Comfort Zone at the London branch of established Italian contemporary art gallery Mazzoleni. Creating five room sets viewed through small portholes, the designers pushed eras and colours together in ways rarely seen with vintage design pieces from the 30's through to the 80's bouncing off fresh contemporary pieces designed by Dimore Studio themselves. Rare vintage furniture pieces by Paul Evans, Josef Frank and Paolo Buffa sat along side art by Lucio Fontana, Getulio Alviani and Agostino Bonalumi.
Design fairs sometimes provide some unusual launch opportunities and so it was with Jijibaba the new clothing label founded by designers Jasper Morrison and Jaime Hayon. Both have designed garments in the past but never a full ready-to-wear collection. Between the two of them they have designed 38 pieces of clothing which have been made in Portugal, France and Italy. New pieces will be added to the collection when they are designed and ready rather than to coincide with the fashion seasons. These will be designed not only by Hayon and Morrison but by a selected community of designers who come from a product design background. As one might expect the pieces designed by Morrison are more classic and restrained while Hayon’s garments are playful and colourful with a strong use of printed graphics. There are references to past products on the Hayon side of the collection which design nerds will invariably enjoy telling their friends about.
“Many fashion designers launch furniture and interiors collections, so this is just the opposite of that. Our worlds are very visual, whether we are looking at a chair or whether we are looking at a garment. While it initially might not seem it, launching clothing is actually a natural extension of what Jaime and I already do in our own work,”
The range will be available exclusively from Dover Street Market in the UK and outlets in Tokyo, Singapore and New York. And just in case you were wondering, Jijibaba is a made up word that Morrison and Hayon found appealing to say outloud.
Talking pattern and prints segways perfectly into the new wallpapers by French graphic designer and illustrator Leslie David and Spanish designer Ana Montiel for the adventurous French label Petite Friture. Utopia Ascending is a wallpaper that features a host of drawn architectural abstract shapes in a abstracted modernist style while David's Constellation designs are a lyrical patten of squiggles and dots. This new range follows on from the brand's more realistic wallpapers 'Volutes' and 'Jungle' by Tiphaine de Bodman launched in Milan earlier in the year and the more abstract and painterly 'Minerals' and 'Dots' by Australian designer Shelly Steer.
One of the noticeable changes to the landscape of LDF this year was the rebranding of Tent London to the rather unimaginatively named London Design Fair. The fair within a festival is bound to cause endless amounts of confusion but apart from that the large event remains much the same housed in its original location in the Old Truman Brewery in East London's Shoreditch. With 500 exhibitors from over 28 countries, the event is always a rich source for discovering new design studios and brands and this year was no exception.
The guest country for London Design Fair 2017 was the USA. Sight Unseen were invited to curate the show and they selected of 13 US based studios from Chicago, New York and Seattle, including Earnest Studio, Bower, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, Studio Proba - all of which have featured previously on Design daily - and others such as Slash Objects, Pat Kim, Damm Design and Eric Trine whose work we weren't aware of. The Steven Haulenbeek lighting objects were a delight as was the work in metal and stone by Christopher Stuart.
See more on the designers showing at the USA Pavilion event here.
Another of the invited pavilions was a showcase for Swedish design and among a host of beautiful work from what must be considered one of the leading design countries in the world right now, was a new piece by Malmo based Australian designer Glen Baghurst. His latest design, called 'The Offering', is a monolithic cocktail table carved from solid Swedish Diabase Stone which is highly prized for its intense blackness. The design has a beautiful African sculptural quality that bridges function and art. Baghurst produced the table (which is limited to 300 pieces) with well known Swedish stone specialist Kullaro. Baghurst's oversized machined metal ‘Ceiling Clock’ was also on show at Mint where he and a number of other Australians including Jon Goulder, Tom Skeehan and Tom Fereday, took part in Lina Kanafani’s Luminates show. The exhibition included 60 international designers and recent UK graduates hand-picked by Kanafani.
Nir Meiri exhibited their fabulous SeaSalt collection – sea salt lamps, fish scale tables and other oceanic objects, at an installation called The Elegant Dance Of Sea And Light within a Grade II Listed former Welsh Presbyterian Chapel in the heart of central London. The pendant lamps are made by casting sea salt in a silicon mould with bio resin. The delicate forms take three applications to build up enough thickness to become robust enough to work as a pendant light. Founded in 2010 by Israeli born London based designer Nir Meiri, Nir Meiri Design Studio offers what they describe as "an out of the ordinary approach to everyday objects". Represented by leading galleries including Nilufar gallery and Spazio Rossana Orlandi in Milan, Mint gallery and 19 Greek Street gallery in London, Design Museum Holon and Tiroche Auction House in Israel, the work is sold as limited edition or one-off pieces.
Faye Toogood held an exhibition called Trade Show at the Garage gallery in South Kensington where she exhibited objects donated by 50 leading designers. Toogood sent out the new sand-cast aluminum version of her signature ‘Spade’ chair to the designers and accepted and exhibited whatever they sent in return. In addition the exhibition displayed material that showed the designers interacting with their ‘Spade’ chair gift. The concept behind the show was the convention that artists support each other by trading or buying each others work.
British furniture brand PINCH has been working predominantly in timber since it started in 2004. While their limited edition Jesmonite coffee table 'Nim' launched in 2015, started a wave of interest in the material, this year founders Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon have gone out on a new limb with a ceramic project - a material neither of them have seriously worked with before. In collaboration with Stoke-on-Trent manufacturer 1882, Pinch launched a small new collection in bone china called 'Flare'. The shapes are conical interpretations of rounded forms as if modelled in cardboard. Large loop handles and a mix of a glossy, clear glaze and dull matt surfaces all lead to a charming, ageless aesthetic.
Decorex is a another feature of the London Design Festival calendar although its not in London as such and runs for just three days from the 17th to the 20th of September. Based in the extensive grounds of Syon Park in Brentford, Middlesex - a 50 minute train ride from central London, Decorex is a large showcase of interior design and interior objects with a highly decorative aesthetic. This is where you will find a wide range of bespoke wallpapers, fabrics, antiques, furniture and lighting - both direct from makers and from retailers and dealers. In recent years the main drawcard for Design daily has been Corinne Julius' Future Heritage exhibition, a personal selection of Britain's best contemporary artisans and craftspeople. Dont be fooled by this rather general description, there is nothing cottage industry about the work that is exhibited. Instead the pieces on show are cutting edge craft, often incorporating digital technology and high levels of experimentation.
One of the artists on show at this years Future Heritage was Helen Carnac an artist, writer and thinker who happens to produce some of the most exquisite enamelware pieces you are ever likely to see. Her ability to create delicate surfaces and textures in the material is quite extraordinary. Carnac’s vitreous enamel works are available from her South London Studio or currently from the Lesley Craze Gallery, London.
Another artist on show at Future Heritage whose work immediately resonated was Lauren Nauman. Her body of work called 'Lines' is an insight into how clay moves in the kiln. The fine cage-like vessels start out life with straight lines when the clay is wet but through the power of the kiln's heat and whats referred to as 'the pyroplasticity' of the clay, the lines mutate and move like fabric to create a new sculpture. Due to the process, the final form of each piece cannot be fully predicted, with much of the result coming down to chance. Lauren Nauman originally studied art in Boston but graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Ceramics & Glass in 2016. She was selected for the RJ Washington Bursary and Woo Scholarship while at college and has subsequently designed tableware for the Tate Modern’s Switch House and received the Ceramic Art London 2017 Newcomer Award.
At risk of overdoing the coverage from Future Heritage Design daily feels compelled to point out just two more amazing pieces from the exhibition. With work by fourteen makers including Ilona Broeseliske, Matt Davis, Adam Blencowe, Gates & Carnac, Simon Hasan, Thor Tor Kulve, Richard Lowry, Naomi Macintosh, ShadeVolume and Pia Wustenberg , selecting just four standouts is a a tall order. The additional two examples shown above and below are by Zac Eastwood-Bloom (above) and Marlene Huissoud (below). Design daily covered some of the earlier work by Huissoud in a post here. Tis particular design uses silk worm cocoons an bees resin to create a unique piece of sculpture while targeting the natural world.
The beauty of a city like London is the variety of incredible spaces available to designers to use as sites for installations. When Australian designer Brodie Neill first walked into the ME Hotel in London's The Strand, he knew he had to do something in its towering atrium space. Following on from his marvellous table 'Ocean Terrazzo' from 2016, Neill has continued to highlight the plight of the oceans. Having created furniture from plastic sea debris, Neill has now designed a complex installation using the material as the vessel to collect a drop of water that falls 100 feet (30m) - at a rate of one drop per minute. As a poignant reminder of the preciousness of water and the damage plastic is causing it is incredibly dramatic and powerful but also extremely beautiful. The pool that collects the drops is made from half a million pieces of salvaged sea plastic. The fall of each droplet triggers a series of video projections that follow the droplet's descent to earth. These images are intensely visual recordings of the sea.
From Brodie Neill's Drop in the Ocean installation - the collection pool below left and a contemplation bench on the right both made with what Neill calls Ocean Terrazzo - tiny fragments of plastic sea debris.