Friday I decided I would hit Tent, the central event of the London Design Festival. Emerging and established designers share space in the Old Truman Brewery located in East London's Shoreditch district, a vital and vibrant destination even without the lure of the LDF. Here are some of the trends and designs we noticed.
- Collectives: Britain's got a great tradition of collectives, young artists who band together and pool their resources to support each other creatively. Often, place binds them together, as in the Irish designers featured in the Design Island booth (stackable chairs from Horizon Furniture) or Designed & Made, the young group from the North of England which featured work by Polly Westergaard and AFID Design, among others.
- Designing for small spaces: Europeans know about small spaces. Their familiarity with it was apparent in work from such designers as Jody Leach's compact dining set and Puzzle's bright metal side table that wraps around a lamp or a plant
- The importance of lighting: Whether your space is large or small, lighting plays an important part. Not only can it change the mood of a room but it can also divide the room into physical spaces. Rachel Powell's (hellohermit@yahoo..com) bespoke veneered lampshades are not only pretty, they diffuse light into a soft glow; Naomi Paul's crocheted lampshades slip over a bare hanging bulb turning an eyesore into something eye-catching.
- Midcentury shows no signs of going away. Designers continue to mine their pasts, nostalgic for the furniture of their grandparents. Bark's credenzas and sleek desk were one very striking example of this.
- Flatpack and DIY seem to be the wave of the future: Whether it's the influence of Ikea or the high cost of moving furniture around for an increasingly mobile population, many of the designs come either flatpacked, like Artefact's chairs and tables (though not their arresting map cabinet), Whackpack's benches and table and Japanese designer Beets, Inc spare shelving or given your own twist, like Andy Murray's stackable shelving which can be put together in various configurations.
- Old classics have staying power: From Lamps Gras many variations on the classic study lamp to Paere Dansk's mid-century classics to Nobody & Co's La Bibliochaise's bookcase, clean designs that have proven the test of time in their design and in their construction and that are made locally to their design rather than being manufactured cheaply, still have the power to excite. Expensive? Without a doubt. Worth it? Definitely.
- Home is a gift: From Stephen Johnson's fanciful bows for the wall to the Icarus lightshade by Latorre Cruz, the trappings of presents and especially papercraft showed their diverse side.
Images: Abby Stone