Join our roving reporter, Jackie Hawkins, in London for 100% Design.
Well, its that crazy time of year again. Just when you think you have recovered from pounding the pavements of London from one event to the other courtesy of the London Design Festival, they add on four days of 100% Design in the cavernous halls of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. ’¨’¨My feet are sore, my kidneys are suffering from all the free Veuve Clicquot, but I’m happy.
This year’s event is definitely an improvement on previous years, and so it should be; 100%Design is this year celebrating 15 years of trading. ’¨’¨For those of you not too familiar with 100%, it is the largest single hub of the London Design Festival, with over 350 exhibitors launching new products from all over the globe. In short, to most designers this translates as a BIG BLOODY DEAL. If you want to get your stuff out there and be seen, this is the place to do it.
From the most notable designers of our day to the best in design manufacturing, you can expect your work to be seen by the likes of Tom Dixon and Mr. Cappellini himself. Both spotted I hasten to add, at last night’s Icon Magazine party in Clerkenwell, and if I hadn’t drunk so many Gin and Tonics I might have felt obliged to engage them in some witty conversation about THE topic on most people’s lips at the moment.
You see, there seems to be a bit of rebellion about ‘named designers’, designers known largely for their name over the standard of their work. Fair point, I reckon, and that is why this year’s show designed by JAM is so spot-on.
They have made it interactive and less static, with live demo’s of making and workshops showing process and creativity at work. There is always a danger that design can take itself too seriously, and somehow JAM have managed to make this an all-together more accessible and friendly event and less ‘high-brow’. I’m all for that: so long as they don’t run out of the Veuve!
Hero Image: Philip Vile Photography
Philip Vile Photography
In amongst the throng on the way to the bar, or to Designers’ Block in the other direction, sit Daniel Emma. A part of 100%Futures, which showcases the best emerging creative talent from around the world, this young married couple from Adelaide are a delight to meet.
Taking pleasure in ordinary everyday things their collection ‘SOLID’ has made the humble object, be it torch or pencil box, look rather elegant indeed. Their collection is not going to change the world, lets face it, but you’ll have to trust me that the appeal is largely in how they feel. Weighty and tactile in the hand, you can’t help but fiddle about with them.
Winner of the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards, Emma won an internship with Marc Newson in Paris while Daniel worked at Committee, the studio in Deptford in southeast London famed for their quirky Kebab lamps. They are clearly going places and I don’t just mean to this year’s 100%Tokyo. Helped along by a grant from the Government of South Australia, and shortlisted for this year’s Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award, they are ones to watch.
Just across the way can also be found Queenslander Fukutoshi Ueno. Through his collaboration with renowned fashion designer Akira Isogawa, they have combined elements of the classic with the modern, creating CODE a piece of furniture referencing the traditional textile of the kimono but with a modern beautifully crafted form.
Made from so-called ‘heirloom woods’ these pieces are built to last, and it’s a nice contrast to some of the surrounding fashion-conscious, disposable products on show nearby. Sit on them, lean on them, use as a table or simply have on show, they’re neat and adaptable and if you like, available to buy in Australia in Living Edge.
Blueprint is the leading magazine for architecture and design and has been for over 25 yrs, so when they announce their annual awards it really is worth sitting-in.
Announced in front of a full crowd armed with champagne and nibbles, the editor Vicky Richardson rather eloquently announced the winners in categories such as Best New Product, Most Promising Talent, Best Use of Materials and Best Exhibition Design.
To be honest it was difficult to judge for yourself, as there was no imagery presented alongside. You can check the winners out for yourself at blueprintmagazine.co.uk. Personally I think Robin Grasby’s multi-functional and adaptable desk should have won Best New Product, but who am I to argue with Blueprint?!
I am posting a number of other images of some of the terrific stuff on offer here this year. Look carefully for the sublime and simple embossed and hand-pressed calendars from Luscombe, a range of recyclable plastic product tops that can be added to your tin cans at home by Jack Bresnahan (brilliant!), and one of my favourites so far, the Unified Dining Table by Min Hoo. The table has its own detachable dining tray with an integrated set of tableware. Just lift up the tray after dinner, wash it down and replace it as it was, or upside down to form a tabletop! Sweet.
Images below: Philip Vile Photography
I’ll cut straight to the chase: today is a struggle. Friday night in London is always eventful, but when it ends a week that has seen 100%Design, the London Design Festival and London Fashion Week, it’s carnage. From buyers to manufacturers to sales people and designers, everyone was letting off steam last night and Brick Lane/Shoreditch in east London was the place to do it.
So if I come across as just not ‘with it’, you’d be right, it will be the free drinks at TENT the breakout show to 100%, and at Corian alongside star-architect Amanda Levete, who were laying on drinks last night like they were going out of fashion.
Despite the shaky start to the day, I did have a good look around Designersblock. An all-together more rugged and thrown-together show it aims to show-off the most progressive emerging and established design talent from all over the world.
You are always guaranteed a giggle at Designersblock and this year was no different with creative cooperative KithKin offering up something a little different.
I-BUM declares the ‘arse to be the window of the soul’; it’s a chair with inbuilt bum scanner printing your ’underside’ from a slot on the side (unsurprisingly popular in bars), there’s jewellery made out of human material from dead people (yes, really) and HIP-OP-DON’T STOP shoes making you smirk even though you know you shouldn’t.
Aussie Ben Rousseau had an impressive stand showcasing his high-end bespoke furniture and modern graffiti take on traditional cornicing, and the mustachioed ceramic mugs were wonderfully playful and just downright silly. The Hitler mug would suit my old boss perfectly (you know who you are!).
Image above: Philip Vile Photography
At some point during 100%Design there is an emigration East. East is the new West, as they say. TENT, now in its third year has really capitalised on this trend to move ‘out East’ and transforming the Truman Brewery into a vibrant design destination.
It’s a beautifully sunny Sunday here in London and the light pours through the skylights into the space illuminating some of the most diverse and original work I have seen so far.
TENT has established itself as a little different to the other events of the London Design Festival, including 100%Design. Broken-up into zones you stumble across everything from recognized brands and trendsetters to raw talent and newcomers.
In Talent Zone ten of the hottest design graduates of 2009 are given free space to exhibit. The best three have the opportunity to pitch their work to Sir Terence Conran and Philippe Starck, although given the bad press recently over Starck’s TV show ‘Design For Life’ (‘Reality TV Goes Starck Raving Mad’!) I’m not sure some of the contenders will be keen!
Nevertheless the best on offer in this zone was Bischoff & Emanuelsson’s THE CLOCK CLOCK, a series of clocks stacked-up one on top of the other that read together, tells you the time. Clocks were a popular theme in the Content Zone with the Japanese Nendesign Studio incorporating clocks into posters displaying eye-catching illustration.
The Content Zone offers a rich mix and is twice the size of previous years. Lebanese furniture company Bokja is exhibiting some genuinely fabulous brightly multi-coloured hand-made chairs.
Vaugh Shannon is making art out of pencil storage. DIY Kyoto offers you Wattson a neat way of showing energy usage in your home, glowing blue when you save money, whilst James Plumb’s dog-come-light made out of recycled material just makes you want to stroke it.
TENT Digital has everyone talking this year and deserves a special mention. With the increasing integration of technology in our lives, this industry is one of the most innovative fields of design and the interactivity involved in this zone just blows you away.
From a digital tea party to kinetic musical instruments and a mirror that reflects your movements in a shower of gold glitter, the question on everyone’s lips was ‘how DO they do that?’ Very impressive. Watch videos at youtube.com/user/tentdigital
That Was the Event That Was
It’s been a colorful few days. There has been laughter – designers sitting up in cherry-pickers embarrassed to have to speak about their favourite designed object.
There has been (almost) tears – microphones not working during presentations, and the ‘Design for Life’ Philippe Starck contestants glum about their experience of working with one of the most prolific designers of our generation.
There has also been a sense of possibility, talking with Panel Member Dominic McCausland and Director of 100% Design Peter Massey, about the scope for bringing 100%Design to Australia. I’m all for it. What do you think?