Benjamin Hubert’s kinetic Foil installation reflects light from 50,000 metal triangles onto the V&A’s medieval tapestries.
Provided the capital with a great excuse to step outside and soak up the last of the English summer, along with the best in global design. While the uncertain post-Brexit climate has been sobering, it has not dampened the spirit of diversity and innovation embodied by the Festival.
Boasting over 400 events, exhibitions and installations across the city from Sept 7 to 27, and showcasing ideas from more than 300 partners representing the heart of London’s design community, the future-focused Festival has grown rather than shrunk.
At the Victoria & Albert Museum, design entrepreneur Benjamin Hubert’s shimmering installation, Foil (pictured) – comprising 50,000 metallic triangles reflecting moving light onto the museum’s medieval tapestries – was inspired by the 360-degree movement of the Braun shaver head.
Other equally ingenious projects include Asif Khan’s Forests, which addresses the need for “third places” in the urban environment, and Alison Brooks’ playful The Smile, the world’s first hardwood “megatube”.
“This was an opportunity to stretch the material to the limit,” says Alison. Notable additions to the line-up include London’s first design biennale, and the introduction of the British Craft Pavilion at the London Design Fair. We’ve scoured the Festival to bring you key looks for your home in the coming year.
The focus on reimagining craft continues to drive contemporary design, with emerging artisandesigners combining modern materials with traditional production processes and a handmade aesthetic. Equal emphasis is placed on visual and tactile qualities. Look out for faceted and inlaid surfaces, textured glazes and flowing coats, and bold hues paired with pastels.
By merging fluid into static glazes, Helen Evans of Planet Ceramics draws attention to surface movement, texture and colour. www.planetceramics.com.
Each a one-off piece, Atelje Mali’s hand-turned and faceted Takete wooden vessels each come in a unique pattern and colour combination. www.instagram.com/ateljemali.
The timeless character of Mid-Century Modern design is its triumph and its pitfall. The market today is saturated with poorly manufactured reproductions, or poorly restored originals. Yet, when approached lovingly, pieces from this iconic era, as well as those inspired by it, can last a lifetime.
British design studio Self is a true master of Mid-Century Modern style. The Naked Desk is a gallant example of a restored original done right. www.selfstyle.com.
Winner of the iF Design and Interior Innovation awards, the Marlon chair by Axel Veit combines a hint of Mid-Century Modern design with the generous and laid-back proportions of our time. www.axelveit.com.
Every item in the Unearthed Interiors collection is handmade in designer Sevak Zargarian’s garden. The products feature shards of parian (a type of porcelain) incorporated into clay. www.sevakzargarian.com.
SPLASH , DAB , POUR
Paint splashes, drips, dabs and pours are appearing on everything from wallpaper and woven fabrics to tables, tiles and hand-cast bowls. All expressive of the artist’s hand, painterly and mark-making motifs celebrate the act of creation as a fluid state full of unseen potential, deliberate moments and happy accidents.
The Gaiola Credenza by Tree Couture is a limited-edition piece handcrafted from solid American black walnut, with detailing in steamed English pear. Every board of timber is selected for its colour, tone, and figure. http://treecouture.co.uk.
Poured is the latest addition to Troels Flensted’s awardwinning collection of plates, bowls, tiles and tables, which capture every movement made by the designer during the hand-casting process. www.troelsflensted.com.
Lente by Dana Finnigan comes in three vibrant colourways and can be printed on a variety of surfaces: ceramic, paper and fabric. www.danafinnigan.com.
Charlotte Beever’s Fuzz and Tropicale textiles add warmth and sweetness to any space. Check out her framed abstract prints, too. www.charlottebeevor.com.
Jazz up the living room and make it look fit for a party thrown by the great Gatsby himself, by drawing inspiration from the 1930s and Art Deco styling of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. When Art Deco meets Hollywood Regency, it’s all about getting the scale right. Play off shimmery upholstery and flamboyant trimmings with solid colours and clean geometric shapes.
Self-assured and seductive, the Draper armchair by Jetclass is a nod to the riotous world of American interior decorator Dorothy Draper. www.jetclassgroup.com/en.
Individually crafted in a family-owned artisan studio, the Flamingo storage unit (above left) and From Above Marble table by Hagit Pincovici exude an unmistakable air of restrained glamour. www.hagit-p.com.
Reminiscent of elegant feather boas and days of decadence, Mineheart’s Feather table lamp is a statement on contemporary glitz. www.mineheart.com.
HEART OF GLASS
Designers’ daring experimentations with the sculptural and conceptual possibilities of glass as their primary medium have thrust into the limelight an industry that has often been undermined. This year’s best pieces strike a playful balance between function and fragility, minimalistic simplicity and ornamentation.
Nestled, by internationally renowned Cathryn Shilling, was formed by bringing together each strand of fine glass cane, working them into multiple layers to create deep and complex bowls. The fragility of glass is underscored by eggs cast from enduring bronze. www.cathrynshilling.co.uk.
Ode to Intuicion by rising design star Juli Bolanos-Durman explores preciousness and play through the construction of non-functional vessels, otherwise priceless receptacles of memory and experience. www.julibd.com.
Discover the brilliant new innovations in lighting design, as seen at the festival. See page 22.
The Balloon chandelier by Glassworks Matteo Gonet exudes casual opulence and ethereality. A truly transcendent centrepiece. www.matteogonet.com.
Bringing an endless summer indoors is possible, as designers have proven this year. Tropical flora and fauna prints, extraordinarily piquant palettes and hand-painted visions of otherworldly paradises evoke the magical realism of a Frida Kahlo canvas or the dreamy heat of a Paul Gauguin painting.
A bold twist on the classic Windsor chair, the limitededition WW (Windsor and Wire) by H Furniture x Studio Makgill is an adventure in colour and expression. www.hfurniture.co.
Shortlisted for the International Product Design Awards 2016, Romuald Stefanski’s effusive New Sun sideboard was inspired by a series of grey days in London. www.romualdstefanski.com.
Artist-designer Amy Isles Freeman’s hand-turned and handprinted objects are fabulous pieces of functional art. www.amyislesfreeman.co.uk.
Inspired by the shape and colour of tropical palms, the Guinea floor lamp by Servomuto couples natural materials such as stone and wood with iron that has undergone tropicalisation, giving the metal a rainbow nuance. www.servomuto.com.
STOP OVER SIGHTS
If London is a short stopover on your way to Europe during the next Festival period, trying to see it all can be a challenge. If time is an issue, just gun for these three design destinations.
The London Design Biennale New this year, the London Design Biennale featured design projects from over 37 countries and territories. Our favourite experience this year was the experimental menu at Taiwan’s forest-like Eatopia installation (pictured right). It explored Taiwan’s history, and its heterogenous identities and cultures.
The Green Room by Glithero, supported by Panerai
The Victoria & Albert Museum The hub of the Festival, the V&A hosts some of the most spectacular design and architectural exhibits. It commissioned leading designers, including Paul Cocksedge and the late Zaha Hadid, to create a collection of design-led London souvenirs this year. There’s no lack of exhibitions and interior showrooms around the Brompton Design Destrict and Chelsea Design Quarter, either, both of which are a stone’s throw away.
Floral Bag by Sunny Todd Prints, seen at Tent London
The London Design Fair In its 10th year, this fair – which included Tent and Superbrands – took place in East London’s Old Truman Brewery and was at the heart of the Shoreditch Design Triangle, home to a hive of London’s edgiest creative businesses. This year, exhibitors from around the globe were featured, including independent designer-makers, established brands, country pavilions and design galleries. There were plenty of beautiful design products to buy, too!
Eatopia, Taiwan Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2016