London Design Festival, Tent, Designersblock 2011

Anthony Hartley Edna

Squint Moquette

We had the delight of heading down to London this weekend to catch a few of the design shows which were part of the London Design Festival. We decided to give 100% Design a miss this year to concentrate on the less commercial events.

Firstly we headed east over to TENT which is situated in Truman’s Brewery, Brick Lane and has over 200 exhibitors. There was a plethora of furniture, textiles and lighting mixed heavily together with up and coming designers through to established companies. Familiar names such as the talented Zoe Murphy and the lovely Mini Moderns and Curiousa & Curiousa were exhibiting again.

Whackpack Furniture

We loved the collaboration between Squint and The London Transport Museum. It was fascinating and used the iconic moquette patterns seen on London’s Transport patterns and re-invented them into their trademark patchwork designs. Using four themes, Living, Sleeping, Dining and Working, there are twenty patterns to choose from and can be ordered through the London Transport Museum. I like the way it is reinforcing Londons Heritage whilst reinventing old unused furniture. A stylish collaboration indeed.
The most stylish furniture in the show by far was by a designer called Anthony Hartley, whose furniture looked good enough to eat. All the pieces have their own unique colour code giving it its DNA. His furniture is based on forms and colours which showed motion and they have an energy and a beauty and will probably be a design classic in years to come.

Curiousa & Curiousa

London Design Festival

Pop up Bar by Freshwest

Bespoke desk lamp Rag & Bone Man

Another project I loved was called Whackpack by BeBenny which can be easily  self assembled and comes boxed ready to go. It shows how fun and simple designer furniture can be. The furniture is highly sustainable as the assembly, storage and labour costs are much reduced. We stopped for a while to treat ourselves with a glass of wine at the pop up bar which this year was made specially for the event. Designed by Freshwest, everything on show was for sale from the scrubbed wooden tables to the stunning Pink Clip Chandelier, all of which focused on raw industrial materials, therefore cutting down on costs. Another  interesting project was by Jan Plechac who created wire framed furniture from iconic pieces such as Louis chairs and Fatboy beanbags.
We particularly liked The Rag and bone Man aka John Jones who exhibited an exciting assortment of lamps made from old machinery parts to give a Deco inspired look. Each piece is unique and is fitted with its own plaque. We liked the way old materials were used to create a fresh new identity.
Overall, there were more commercial established companies there than previous years and there was a definate mood of sustainability in the air from new modes of renewable energy to upcycling furniture, through to material choices. To be honest there seemed to be a slight repetition in the exhibitors this year and much of it has been seen before but the new up and coming exhibitors are doing just swell.
We ventured further East after getting ourselves ridiculously lost, and we finally found DesignersBlock and it was totally worth the wait. Set in an old industrial warehouse and showcased the best of up and coming innovative designers. We were instantly greeted by Feix&Merlin Architects istallation entitled High Tea which consited of giant floating globes and suspended chairs in the courtyard.


My favourite stall beyond any other was The Auction Room which focused on the economic climate and pieces were commissioned in order to create an auction room where goods can only be bought by swapping services, much like designers within their working environment, therefore the only currency used was the swap. Pieces were commissioned from designers such as Hendzel and Hunt, Studio 801, Jorun Hagnesen, the theme being fake as it was a fake auction room. The goods were to be auctioned off on the final day, Sunday. This idea was so original and especially in an uncertain world where money is the driving force, a bartering system is a fantastic notion.
The reseeding brick was an innovative project by JAILmake, a studio based in South East London, where they produced a reseeding brick which can be used throughout urban environments to create blooms all over the city, packed with wild flowers and grasses they can be placed in holes and structures. They also produced a table in which plants can grow and intertwine up the table legs encouraging nature to florish indoors.
‘Our interests are in human relationships-how we interact with, and shape environments, how we relate to nature and how we learn from experiments, play and trial and error.’
A stunning beautiful range was exhibited by Jo Gibbs who made the most amazing upcycled furniture using net curtains as inspiration the result was a delicate blend of old and new, using laser etcthing onto old surfaces. The fine detailing from Graphic Relief was also stunning, they produced intricate concrete panels with stunning surface design which can be used on buildings and structures. Lovely.

Jo Gibbs Designersblock

Claire Ann O'Brien

John Galvin Designersblock

Claire Anne O’Brien was another designer who has created a lot of interest. Her knitted furniture is both eye catching and eco friendly as she uses old furniture together with chunky knits to create her new designs. A beautiful and innovative way to recycle and create.
A very stylish exhibition was by Scottish furniture designer John Galvin, whose pieces were contemporary and sleek and can sit in my interior any day of the week! John uses traditional cabinet techniques to create bespoke pieces.
Designersblock was an innovative exhibition, showcasing a fantastic array of designers and new talent and was the freshest exhibition by far, it was definitely worth getting lost in London for.