London Design Festival Review 2012

4th October 2012

Kate Melhuish
Dieneke Ferguson

100% Design’s theme for 2012 – Inspiring Connections

This year was the 10th London Design Festival and it has come a long way since the first one. Now it has clusters of venues, to make it easier to visit. It also attracts more individual visitors.  For instance it was great to see people walk in the streets of Shoreditch with their LDF map, which reminded me of the Hidden Art Open Studios in its early days. The late evenings for each cluster also worked, as many venues were serving drinks and very much gave it the Milan Furniture Fair feel. Equally it continued the festive feeling that has engulfed London since the jubilee to which we won’t want to say goodbye.
There were a lot of venues, much more than in previous years, or at least so it seemed. And all had made a much bigger effort- many more shops had shows, as well as talks. And there were so many events that it would have been a challenge to see everything. The bigger venues had huge queues on their opening nights, letting in the ones either lucky enough to have a ticket or prepared to wait . But for those that waited it was worth it.

100% Design’s theme for this year ‘Inspiring Connections’ could well have been this year’s theme for the London Design Festival: connections between designers and manufacturers; new use of materials, between designers and retailers, the new and the old and innovations.

There wasn’t enough time to see it all, so this is just a selection of what Kate and Dieneke managed to see.

100% Design

This was the first year under new ownership with Will Knight as events director, and interesting design started straight away, with an entrance entitled “inspiring connections” which resembled Moooi’s Heracleum 2 lighting.

100% Design Entrance

Hidden Art was at the first 100% design and hasn’t missed many, and we have seen it change over the years.

As always it was lovely to see Hidden Art E-Shop members at the event, such as Desinature and Liquidesign

Desinature at 100% Design 2012

Liquidesign at 100% Design

Charley Whinney who has exhibited with Hidden Art in the past also had a stand, as well as Dare Studios.

Charley Whinney at 100% Design 2012

100% Design was arguably the most extensive of the events throughout London Design Festival. In order to bring some structure to the space, it was split into several sections, meaning that it was easy to browse everywhere without feeling overwhelmed.

100% Design 2012 – Central area

Aside from just designs, there was a seminar programme which included Marcus Fairs in conversation with design gurus including Yves Behar who discussed his design philosophy.

Marcus Fairs in conversation at 100% Design Seminar programme

Notable at the event was the strong theme of light and simplicity in design, particularly in lighting, see our Pinterest board for more on this.

Magic Wall Display at 100% Design 2012

There were plenty of innovative and truly original ideas to be seen; from a magnetic wall to the feature exhibit “On Our Doorstep”, local design activism presenting the work of some of the leading designers and companies  who are positively activating change. Hidden Art was also included on the map.

On Our Doorstep project at 100% Design 2012

100% Design 2012 – On Our Doorsteps

Design Junction

Design Junction is still relatively new on the design scene, but has grown over the last three years into an impressive show, offering a wide variety of products. The site had a more industrial feel than 100% Design, but this complemented the space – a renovated Post Office sorting office- that was the perfect place for hosting this event. Many designers chose to light their products with multiple lamps instead of the usual lighting, which made walking around the space a more approachable experience.

Lindsey Lang at Design Junction 2012

Design Junction was host to several Hidden Art members, such as Kukka, Vitamin, Thelermont Hupton and Lindsey Lang.

Kukka at Design Junction 2012

Vitamin at Design Junction 2012

Thelermont Hupton at Design Junction 2012

Also exhibiting were Scene launching their new E-Shop. Scene have exhibited with Hidden Art for many years.

Gemma Fabbri, Scene at Design Junction 2012 launching her new E-Shop

It also hosted the Joy of Living project, with an auction to fundraise for Maggie’s, featuring a bucket from one of our members Hive. This is the second Joy of Living, the brainchild of Max Fraser.

Joy of Living 2 in aid of Maggie’s at Design Junction

Donation from Hive for Joy of Living 2, Design Junction 2012

Dare Studio who has exhibited with Hidden Art in the past also had a show at Design Junction as well as at 100% Design.

It also included a variety of eating places, including Canteen with London Transport.

Canteen at Design Junction 2012


Kal Chottai (Damdesign) launched his 2012 clock at Dwell. Linford Christie (pictured below with Kal) paid him a visit during the launch event.

Linford Christie and Kal Chottai in front of 2012 clock at Dwell, LDF 2012


Tent had a lively atmosphere and seemed to have grown compared to last  year. The Superbrands area was situated next to the main area, and was nicely designed, providing a white backdrop.

Superbrands at Tent 2012

DesignK was at Tent presenting his new “Tea for One” table.

DesignK at Tent 2012

Julian Mayor, who has exhibited with Hidden Art for many years also showed his latest work

Julian Mayor at Tent 2012 with his new collection

Jodie Leach, who sells his products on was also present.

Jodie Leach exhibited at 100% Design during LDF 2012

Another design company known to Hidden Art, Urban Upholstery, Also made their presence

Urban Upholstery at Tent 2012

There were great products from Mashiko Japan.

Mashiko Japan at Tent 2012

Established by Staffordshire University Flux represents a collection of talented designers from the University who produce mostly blue patterns for fine bone china, which then are produced and sold commercially.

Flux at Tent 2012

Also notable was a lovely blue ceramics series from Patrick Lang representing the making of ceramics.

Making of Ceramics series by Patrick Lang at Tent 2012

Connectingthe dots is a project that presents Dutch designers and design-culture internationally during key events and fairs that had some interesting concepts. Being Dutch I loved the work of the Dutch Designers, many of them trained in the Eindhoven Academy and produced some lovely work.

The Cottage Industry, ‘Big Bloom’ at Connecting the Dots, Tent 2012

Jolan, Gravity Stool at Connecting the Dots, Tent 2012

100% Norway nearby in Dray’s Walk had a great exhibition – showcasing the work of Norwegian designers in a great space.

View on 100% Design Norway as part of Tent 2012


Piers Roberts (Designersblock) with his son Benjamin

This Designersblock was arguably the best so far. It had a great atmosphere and there was plenty of lovely new work. This was represented by the large amount of people who were queuing outside and eager to get in. However, once inside, they were not disappointed.

Light Display at Designersblock 2012

Bar Area at Designersblock 2012

There was a vast range of designs from interior design products with and interesting edge to conceptual walls constructed of salmon skin. The  show included the second year of Bodging Milano, a project that explores green woodworking. it included a chair made by Kay & Stemmer.

One person participating in this was Valentina Gonzalez, who had worked with Oaxacan crafts people to produce the Wild Botched Chair in collaboration with an Oaxacan artisan.

Valentina Gonzalez with her Wild Bodged Chair Series at Designersblock 2012

There was an excellent workshop programme organised by exhibitors, including a “toy hack day” organised by Community Toy which encourages the reuse of materials, resources and skills exchange, social interaction and progression.  Further info

There was plenty to see, including several interactive designs, such as a distinctive pinball machine featuring bike brakes and a bowler hat.

the book Interviews from Confessions of a Design Geek was also available at the Designersblock Shop at the Royal Festival Hall Shop.

Designersbock Pop-up Shop at Royal Festival Hall Shop

Interviews by Confessions of a Design Geek

You can visit a related post with some images of Designersblock’s 15 years taken by Hidden Art staff over the years  here

Ceramics in the City

Now in its 11th year, Ceramics in the City has been held in the Geffrye Museum since it was given a grant from Hidden Art through European Funding. Organised by potter Karen Bunting it still showcases work from Hackney Contemporaries members.

Karen Bunting, founder at Ceramics in the City 2012 at the Geffrye Museum

Over the years it has grown into a must-see event.Ceramics in the city had something for everybody, aptly set close to the Geffrye display of living rooms from different periods. The product range varied widely, and E-Shop members Tina Vlassopulos and Linda Bloomfield were in attendance.

Tina Vlassolulos at Ceramics in the City 2012

Tina Vlassopulos- Fin, at Ceramics in the City 2012

Linda Bloomfield at Ceramics in the City 2012

Emma Clegg- Medium Hedgerow Vase, at Ceramics in the City 2012

There were beautiful products that were purely for ornamental purposes, but also a wide range of every day ceramics such as mugs and tableware. However, all of these pieces were still interesting from a design perspective, particularly these pieces by Daniel Boyle, demonstrating that products can be visually interesting and practical.

Daniel Boyle- Range of mugs, at Ceramics in the City 2012


 Richard Ward, longstanding Hidden Art member and board member  launched his new Lola Lola sofa. Great atmosphere and a lovely sofa.

Richard Ward launching the Lola Lola Sofa at his showroom during London Design Festival 2012


For the second year SCP had a great exhibition in their East London shop called the Design Department Store, with some amazing work.  Including products from Kay & Stemmer (such as the Agnes Console Table and Mirror) and Gareth Neal’s project ‘In Pursuit of Carbon Negative’.

Furniture from Kay & Stemmer at SCP East during the London Design Festival 2012

Gareth Neal – In Pursuit of Carbon Negative at SCP during LDF 2012

KK outlet

The KK outlet had a lovely exhibition from Dominic Wilcox, called Variations on Normal,  including his shoes which direct you to where you want to go to.

Dominic Wilcox with Destination Shoes at KK  outlet during LDF 2012

Tom Dixon

In Portobello Dock Dieneke also visited the Tom Dixon and Moooi show. There was some lovely work. Hidden Art had exhibited here a couple of years ago, and since then Tom Dixon’s building now houses a permanent restaurant as well as an extensive shop which sells products from other designers in addition to those from Tom Dixon.

It was great to see work from Piet Hein Eek in recycled wood, although very expensive.

Recycled table by Piet Hein Eek at Tom Dixon Shop, LDF 2012

I also liked Tom Dixon’s Fresh Fat Chair and Fresh Fat Bowl

Fresh Fat Chair and Bowl by Tom Dixon, LDF 2012


Moooi was exhibiting its collection that was launched in Milan and  which had some lovely work.

His  heracleum lights that seemed to have inspired 100% Design

Moooi, Heracleum Light, LDF 2012

I loved The Big Ben clock –a huge wall clock which has labels to personalise the clock – everywhere, nowhere, home, Milan and Amsterdam.

Moooi, Big Ben – Everywhere Clock during LDF 2012

He was also commissioned by Delft Blue to produce a series of vases. This also inspired the Sofa and cushions above. (Called Delft Blue Jumper)

Ceramics for Delft Blue, Moooi during LDF 2012

I also liked the Altdeutsche Moebel, Old Frankish furniture with the old German hand-painted pieces by Studio Job translated into playful and happy designs.

Studio Job, Old Frankish furniture at Moooi, LDF 2012

Man in the Corner at Moooi Exhibition, LDF 2012

In the car park there were some lovely delivery vans from Innocent which also has his residence in the complex.

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