30 September 2011
by Lauren McKirdy
Last week the whole team were out and about enthralled in the buzz of London Design Festival. A week of receptions, meetings and parties, including our own at This Way Up, kept us super busy, so below are a few of my highlights from the international scene within the festival.
The Finnish Institute launched Reddress, a bespoke performance space by designers Aamu Song. Certainly the most relaxing evening during the festival, as we all reclined and listened to beautiful Finnish Folk music and song the space was transformed into a warm and inviting venue where you felt surprisingly calm snuggled down next to strangers.
Design Junction transformed Victoria House Basement with over 30 established and emerging designers. Matilda, a collection of Australian contemporary product and furniture designers, took over a large space which included a popup café with furniture designed by Helen Kountouris, Austraila’s Designer of the Year 2010.
Henry Wilson's elegant reinvention of the ‘Angelpoise’ lamps caught my eye. He has retained the industrial quality of this wartime design and updated the product with new lamps. The glass lamp uses a near invisible LED light which enhances the focus on the original design, the lamps are part of Wilsons collection ‘things revisited’.
Kent Gration’s collection Wambamboo (got to love the name) addresses the over mass production of non renuable and polluting materials used in furniture design. His designs show how bamboo can be used as a versatile, high end material for products.
Thursday led me to a buzzing Brompton district with lots of the little shops and cafes staying open late to make the most of the crowds or for private views. I popped into Mint shop where PSLAB, lightning designers from Beirut, had staged the shop for the week with an enticing glow to draw in the crowds. Then next door to the Grange, where our friends at Okay Studio had collaborated with Arco, a Dutch manufacturing company, to produce 10 brand new products over two long weekends. The result was a mix of 14 exciting wooden furniture and product pieces that fit smoothly into Arco’s collection, each with a distinct and individual quality. For the first time, the basement of the Grange was opened up thanks to FLOCK, an all female design collective displaying some beautiful products against a raw and quite industrial backdrop. Marina Drgomirova’s Fuchila chair was inspired by traditional Bulgarian rug making techniques resulting in a light and transparent contemporary furniture piece. Pia Wustenberg showed her Stacking Vessels, an extension of her graduating RCA project Product ID, exploring the way we interact with objects through domestic rituals. The new vessels act as functional sculptures, various craft processes were used to create three individual containers in contrasting materials, the jewel like colours of the glass caught my eye very quickly!
The end of the week brought 100% Design and a busy day working through the hundreds of exhibitors. There was a strong presence from Norway who presented an update on the classic Ola Windsor chair, designed by Alf Sture as well as new designer Caroline Olsson’s Bambie table and Curious lamp, which has just won the Blueprint award for best new product 2011. The Embassy of Chile and the Embassy of Argentina were exhibiting for the first time and along with Korea Design and a multitude of other international exhibitors it was good to see a strong presence of international design this year.
In 2012 The British Council will partner with London Design Festival for the International Architecture and Design Festival 2012. Part of the British Council’s 2012 programme, the showcase will see embassies and cultural centres from around London show the work of designers from their retrospective countries. The 3 month programme of events will kick off with London Festival of Architecture and conclude with London Design Festival. We certainly hope that next year there is a strong presence of international designers showing in London, and can’t wait to see which country will win the showcase’s award for design!