A Firework Rainbow Review of London Design Festival 2009

PS pulls
A Rainbow of Tassels by Leaf – Jacqueline Wharam 

It’s bonfire night and I’m busy putting together a press feature, inspired by the rainbows of colour evident absolutely everywhere at the London Design Festival 09. This should be a really cheerful blog post, all in all, and sorely needed for this very blustery, wet and miserable November week. The guys are busy tiling in my bathroom, I am so looking forward to having my bath back, I may stay in there for days. Just me, a Grazia and a huge bar of chocolate.

Where were we, colour, yes, 100% Design, Tent and The Dock were full of it!  Put your sunglasses on, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Fountain Studio Puppy Mop

Some really quirky products on the Fountain Studio stand from South Korea, and their prototype Puppy Mops caught my eye – how cute? You’d need the biggest mop bucket in the world, but let’s face it, you’d never really want to get these wet, would you?

Zoe Murphy Designer Maker

Gorgeous retro and sustainable furniture from skip delver Zoe Murphy, a designer-maker whose work photographs beautifully and is just as lovely ‘in real life’. Featured in LivingEtc, Zoe gets her inspiration from the sea-side and her home town of  Margate. She started off exhibiting at Tent, and has stayed loyal, feeling the vistors to the East London show are her type of people, urban and funky, and I hope I don’t sound too cruel when I say it was great that she said she’d been so busy since graduating in 2008, she felt like she hadn’t slept for a year!

New British Design stand

New British Design guides talented designer makers to form their ideas into prototypes and ultimately into marketable products, finding Patrons and assistance in a business world which can seem very daunting to the young designer fresh out of college. If you have a bit of spare cash and fancy helping turn a great idea into a fantastic reality, get in touch with them and pick your designer!

Lothair Hamann

Lothair’s Loopy Lu lights graced the entrance into Tent’s East London collective section organised by the East London Design Show. They’re fabricated from polypropylene and come flat packed so you have to get creative, but the video on his web-site should help you along!

Whitbread Wilkinson’s Pantone mugs

Made on a licence with Pantone, this kaleidoscope of Whitbread Wilkinson mugs are designed for both the colour lovers and the anal matchy freaks amongst us, so once you know your favourite Pantone shade, your decorator will never get away with saying “this dulux shade will do” again…..

PS 0795 Vaugh Shannon
Vaugh Shannon’s Etcetera

Loved this. Loved it loved it loved it. Want one.

Dublin designers Trevor and Nic collaborate as Vaugh Shannon and their Etcetera display shelf is just to die for. Funky, simple, different, adaptable, fun…can you tell I like it, I’m not sure I’m being enthusiastic enough 🙂 I’d just have to buy tonnes of coloured pencils though, never mind displaying anything else, they look so perfect!

Yura Kim’s Bubblecandy Lights

These lights looked like they could float away on the gentlest breeze and are perfectly named Bubblecandy, by designer Yura Kim. Inspired by nature, she makes them from resin, working with lines and structure to create a solid form from a liquid material.

PS 0786 Holo
The Flip Table by Projectholo

Projectholo are two furniture designer-makers, Christopher Thomas and Michael Travalia, who collaborate to make, amongst other things, these fab bamboo tables which are then sprayed with a very durable two-part paint. They are fun and multifunctional, can be tables or stools, and can be linked or used separately. A vibrant place to park your bum.

Spring Bloom, Portugal Brands
Portugal Brands

As part of Tent London, Portugal Brands exhibited some of the best and brightest stars of Portuguese design. I don’t know what I was expecting (what would you?) but it certainly wasn’t the extravagant riot of colour which was in their stand alone shop! the pieces displayed were innovative and modern and not at all what I imagine when I think of the word Portugal. But that’s the point of the PR drive I guess. I’ve only shown a couple of images, the brightests rainbow ones to fit my blog post, but there was definitely lots more well worth taking a look at.

Kirsty Whyte’s Hound tables

Trendsblog have a great interview with designer Kirsty Whyte, which you can read here – http://trendsblog.co.uk/?p=2733. Her blog is a good read too, about her design life, exhibiting and inspiration. These Hound  tables were initially launched at the Milan Furniture Fair and the fushia petal variation at 100% Design.

Flower Stall at The Dock

Even the flower stall at the entrance to Tom Dixon’s Portobello Dock captured the feel for colour brilliantly.

Canteen Utility chair by Very Good & Proper

These stackable seats were inspired by post-war school chairs – I reckon even Ms Jean Brodie may have cracked a smile if she’d had these pressed beech seats and powder coated frames to look at. They were exhibited at The Dock as part of the Canteen line of furniture by new design company Very Good and Proper.

John Green’s Pantone wall boards

I had such an interesting conversation with John Green about these magnetic wall boards, and the intricacies of dealing with large companies such as Pantone, who licence the colours, and then distributors too. The issues which seem to arise lie in the layers of costs and ensuring that once everyone has been paid their ‘cut’, the boards are still affordable and desirable by the consumer at the price which has been set, or has everyone’s cut risen the price to a level that customers will not pay for a wall board, no matter how fab the colour or stylish the design. I hope he can achieve the goal of getting them on the market for sale, as they are crisp, simple and got a tonne of interest at the show. How frustrating not to be able to actually sell them when so many people were asking where they get them! Just shows you how much more there can be to a situation than first meets the eye.

Matt Pugh’s Owls

These little Owls, designed by Bath based Matt Pugh, caught everyone’s eye. Turned from either walnut or oak and topped with a little icing of glossy paint, they were probably one of the smallest items in the whole of 100% Design at Earls Court, yet bagged themselves more column inches than the turned-away-from-Tent Victoria Beckham! Of course, Matt makes far more than Owls, with a range of handmade and British-made furniture which can all be seen on his web-site:

Michelle Mason’s 100% Merino wool rugs

This display by Michelle Mason is an example of how craft meets cutting-edge technology to create intricate 100% merino wool rugs, oh, if only I didn’t have football obsessed boys and their muddy feet in my house, it’s just not fair!

Klara sofa
Kim Klelund’s Klara sofa

I thought this fabric was just amazing, lush and vivid, quite traditional in a way, but also very funky. The collection is called Fabula (which means ‘fable’ in Latin, dug from the memory from that dreaded latin A level I took many moons ago), and this fabric has it’s roots in native Scandanavian design. The furniture designer Kim Klelund is Swedish, with a design studio in Berlin, and writes a blog at her web-site.

Well, that’s the end of this rainbow post, I hope it’s cheered you up as the winter days and nights close in, and that you’ve seen something inspiring in the images. Plus finally, I even found a pot of gold for you….


6 thoughts on “A Firework Rainbow Review of London Design Festival 2009

Add yours

  1. Hey there – know it’s been a while since this post, but I had to join you in adoring Matt Pugh’s owls – and great blog too – thanks!

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