September wouldn't be the same without some London Design Festival highlights; it provides the perfect excuse for a week of light work and plenty of wandering around the city. Graced by some particularly nice weather this year the outside installations held the most appeal, though in recent years the line up has been slipping towards more evening private evening events and trendy business 2 business concepts.
So with my shrinking interest in the very West London line up I stuck to the long standing design destinations that always promise a cluster of design highlights. After a disappointing wander around the V&A; something I usually really enjoy, I went to my first show looking for a theme to inspire me. My idea came to me in the first pictures I managed to snap; finding unfamiliar angles and perspectives of the same show I have been to before. Re-inventing new ways to solve old problems and enjoy other elements of design whether its a process or a detail.
Design Junction - KINGS CROSS
Design Junction returned to the rejuvenated Kings Cross area where it rightfully belonged this year; coal drop yard has been pumped up for some time since its re-opening earlier this year and has a lot to live up to. Though it was a slow start its been packed out during the warm summer months a crowd of LDF explorers was a good test. With exhibitions floating around the different spaces I still felt it was a work in progress to be honest, thought the landscape is beautiful with lots potential in the in-between spaces and growing in popularity.
I was invited to the RADO press introduction which got me there early and sleepy faced but eager to meet the young designers shortlisted for the RADO start prize. Offering clever design solutions in everything from healthcare to manufacturing waste, the enthusiasm was upbeat amongst the small crowd. This was also when I was introduced to Re(act), Mark Gordon, Director of Design Junction gave us a whirl wind tour of the junction to introduce the challenge to have purpose after the show and make change. So with that in mind I stared in Cubitt House a dedicated pavilion for iconic furniture & lighting.
FOREST & MAKER
I was drawn to the new Graft collection, in particular this side shelving add on to to their cleverly engineered desk solution. Natural raw edges, simple shapes with a minimally visible metal under frame; delicate and easy to custom to soft a very functional space. You can tell its a design born from talented craftsman and a architects brain, makes me dream of my future workspace, just need to find the perfect chairs to pair with this yummy woodwork.
I love TED! After seeing the man himself chipping away in a basement in Clerkenwell years ago now I have followed his work every since. Seeing his large stand amongst lots of international names made me strangely prideful for this British workshop. The new ScallopEd collection was lovely, thoughtful and inviting like everything in their display. I like the casual feeling to TedWood pieces that make them comfortable to use and easy on the eyes perfect pieces in a warm & simple interior style.
A new find Umage is your first look at the easiest trend to spot this LDF 'curves', simple but infectious. It was the brand promise that grabbed me, 'made by people who are willing to walk that extra mile to give you an extraordinary experience' and in Danish they have a word for just that UMAGE. Perfect right? Their products are wonderfully named too, the reader chair has to be top of my list for a quiet corner. There is plenty of options to choose, from tasteful colours and wood combinations that really set the mood to stand out lighting pieces.
Want to know the kicker, to be more sustainable and accessible their pieces come flat packed, a beautiful combo of ethical process and ingenuity for the future.
After leaving Cubitt House, crossing over to The Canopy I was back in my element of retail brands.
Top marks go to NEWGATE for their improvised train themed display, including working moving train set. Lots of brands had new products to share for the first time including HELLO GRIMES new illustration from her book collaboration with Sarah Baxter, Literary Places. I made lots of notes for my upcoming gift guides and would have spent my pay check if I'd had it yet.
There is something blooming under this canopy as its now a popular weekend venue for lots of London local markets of all varieties.
London Design Fair - SHOREDITCH
As one of the last earthy design districts left in LDF Shoreditch is street after street of visual pleasure. Especially if you haven't been in a while so get to see the full effect of new street art, the latest trendy doughnut hole alongside the boutique offerings.
EMILY FORGOT - NEVER LOST
CitizenM commissioned Emily to return to LDF with one of her architecture inspired creations; playful and curious this maze like structure was full of bold shapes and lots of views through its passages. This design from Emily's installation was visible again on entry to the never changing Truman Brewery for the London Design Fair. An international affair that's pretty unpredictable the further you explore, but I think a little lacking in flow this year.
So here are some views through the madness and a couple of star products I picked out.
CRAIG & ROSE
A pleasant surprise in the show, Craig & Rose were introducing 11 new paint colours for their 1829 collection. They are my new favourite paint supplier and have graced the back of many of my Christmas shoots already. Their shape filled walls offered plenty of perspectives from room to room. Do you like interior windows?
This minty green collection of spaces from Danish Living were the perfect blend of simple artist styling with brands like Art Tiles and Moebe catching my eye. It was also my first look at room divider shelving that was perfect for mixing in some hanging plants.
SCANDINAVIA FORM & MEZETTO
From the Swedish pavilion unsurprisingly the greenery stood out; these two contrasting products, delicate bauble vases and canister bin trollies both had a high quality finish and simple concept.
ASSOCIATE DESIGN PORTUGAL - VANESSA BARRAGAO
I have been fascinated by this relief wool tapestry style recently and found Vanessa's pieces full of life and a really unique mix of colours. Whether its one of her rugs or tapestry's they are larger than life and a complete show stopper.
HOUSE OF LOZI
House of Lozi is a woodwork wonderland; great for small space solutions, lots of floating options and dual use furniture pieces. All very natural and curated to a wholesome scandi aesthetic, perfect for youthful spaces.
My pick of the festival had to be this display of vases by Melanie; introduced to them by the makers sister I was transfixed by their material combinations, finishes and the level of care in each piece. This little bio snippet from her website paints a beautiful picture:
'Through the technique of lathing, she turns simple pieces of solid wood and cork into one-of-a-kind bowls, plates, cups and stands. Her passion for woodworking originates from the simple fact that every piece is unique as the material it is made from.'
These pieces are perfect for hotels, galleries, showrooms, restaurants etc but she also does a simpler wholesale selection if your dying to share them with customers instore.
I couldn't leave East London without wandering to Broadgate for PAUL COCKSEDGE - PLEASE BE SEATED centred in a metropolitan square this wave of rustic seating was a huge hit. The sun seeped between the buildings, bounced off the trees and then filtered through the eb and flow of the installations shape. I love how as you walked around and between you caught pieces of scenes from casual napping to ecstatic selfie taking.
100% Design - WEST LONDON
Traveling to West London for 100% Design who were celebrating their 25th anniversary with landmark design ideas and full exhibitor list to explore. A complete mix of material, fixtures, furniture, concept for both business and residential use.
Top picks were everything made by BENCHMARK, little pockets of style surrounded each piece. I want to find our more about BAHYA bespoke cement tiles, dreaming up the perfect project for them.
Possibly the biggest fan favourite from the festival was the life size Kirkby Design & London Transport offering. A Wes Anderson inspired makeover of an everyday tube carriage filled with pastel colours, re-done advertising and revived textile patterns to weep over. Everyone agreed that they'd enjoy their commute a lot more if all the carriages looked like these!
A special project this year that you can continue to see after the festival is Camille Walala transformation of South Molton Street. Her bright geometric designs are a staple for everyone now but this years offering was a step up from previous executions and with a different feel, more polished.