Letter From London: 100% Design

For anyone who's design mad, the end of September's a great time to be in London. The London Design Festival (LDF), now in its ninth year, has over 280 events going on all over town (exhausting!) with a lot of the big splashy shows taking place this weekend. Yesterday I hit up the 100% Design show in Earl's Court. Here's some of the stuff that got my attention.

Not all of the stuff here has found distribution outside the UK. I've provided links to everything so you can contact the designer or manufacturer directly or check the 100% Design website.

  • I loved the graphic and simple nature of this garden furniture by Kirv. Made in the UK of stainless steel, it is colorful, comfortable and, apparently, despite being made of metal, doesn't boil in the sun (a big issue with outdoor seating). Available plain or powder-coated, it can be made site-specific.
  • A couple of chairs got our attention. This one designed by Steve Baines of Baines & Fricker, and made of British Elm and covered in Harris Tweed, though low, was comfortable and easy to get in and out of (my first two criteria for chairs!). I liked the almost office chair quality of this chair, The Monty by Samuel Chan for The Channels Design.
  • Wallpaper is still going strong. There was MissPrint, a company we've covered and love, as well as these two interesting offerings: Tactile Wonderland's textural wall coverings and the arresting Concrete Walls, a selection of wallpapers designed by Norwegian photographer Tom Haga. Check out both the Concrete and Attic collections.
  • Cubit, from Germany, was one of my favorite pieces at the show. Made of MDF, with the boxes designed to have varying depths, Cubit easily snaps together into a shelving unit, creating endlessly reconfigurable pieces that can grow and change with your needs. I love that it is practical and yet sculptural which just goes to show you that utilitarian design can be simple without being boring.
  • There were a couple of country-specific booths. At l00% Norway I checked out Figgjo A/S. Made primarily for commercial use, this is beautifully spare dishware, almost Asian in its simplicity. There were a number of interesting offerings from Argentina that I loved for how they combined great design with sustainability, including Buna, garden stools and planters made by UAU Disegno, of shredded rubber that are not only comfortable but porous (so they won't have that outdoor furniture problem of collecting water) and these whimsical leather desk accessories by Vaca Valiente, made of recycled leather.
  • Don't shoot me but I still like a good bird motif done well and these lights, the Alouette collection from Germany's Atelier Areti, which come in different configurations, hit the mark.
  • The British are not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to design; for its glam factor alone, I loved this bling necklace lamp, Big Big Bling by Penelope Batley.
  • Like Flor, Esprit Home's Islands carpet tiles interlock and are offered in a variety of textures and materials.
  • Perhaps it's the tea and the need for teapots but the English china industry has still got it, with artisans like Felicity Jones, who collaborated with Leeds Pottery/Hartley Greens to design a teapot using actual flowers in its design. I was also enamored of her own collection with its delicate botanical designs and slightly old-fashioned cast.
  • Maximo Riera's wild animal chairs are the kind of offering that would have made it onto our now-defunct hot or not column. While they may not be practical for your average apartment, if you have the kind of home (or are the kind of person) that can support a statement piece, these are striking and, I've heard, quite comfortable.
  • The colorful and simple Leaning Man console by And Then Design also comes in a night or side table version.
  • Hidden Art, a collective that supports over 300 young UK designers, had a lively and compelling booth with fun and livable products like the Loop Mirror by Being Blease (a modern take on the classic mirror, with straps in a range of colors) as well as favorites like Black & Blum. Check them out now; I understand they're closing at the end of the year!
  • YFOS, a company which is actually based out of Greece, offers two pieces that would be a great addition to an entry way. Piano, pictured here, is offered in a number of wood and colorful configurations (including a black and white version that resembles a piano keyboard): the hooks pull down and then, when not in use, snap back into position. Ypsilon, a sculptural coat rack that can be fixed to a wall or ceiling, made of Y shaped pieces that snap together, would look great even if, like me, your entry door spills right into your living room.

Images: Abigail Stone

2 Comments