by Kostas Koutoupis
This is a review of two major destinations of the London Design Festival, Designjunction and Designersblock. Designjunction took place at The Sorting Office on New Oxford Street from 18th– 21st September. Not far from them was Designersblock, running during the same dates at The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green.We started at Designjunction at the opening night and then moved on to Designersblock.
Set at New Oxford Street and laid across three floors, or four if you count the basement also used this year, Designjunction, now in its fourth edition, has managed to establish itself as one of the must-see destinations of the London Design Festival. Featuring furniture, lighting and product design from around the world, Designjunction offers a great variety of suggestions for anyone interested in home accessories.
Here are some of the highlights of the show we enjoyed.
Dominic Wilcox’s ideas never fail to amaze and his Driverless sleeper car had puzzled visitors, taking shots and talking to the designer to find out what it is and how it works. The stained glass car was Dominic’s take on the idea of a radical vision for the future of mobility and was part of the ‘Dezeen and MINI Frontiers exhibition’. The aim of the exhibition was to explore how the synergy of design and technology could transform future travel. Dominic’s innovative design is a car that drives itself to its destination while you lay inside taking a nap or daydreaming through its stained glass shell. Food for thought for the car companies of the future…
Black Body’s impressive installation initiated visitors to the show’s lighting section found in the building’s basement. Comprised of dozens of lights hanging from the ceiling in formation, this installation created a remarkable effect that was quite reminiscent of a starry sky at night.
Tom Raffield, an old Hidden Art member, was the first one we saw at the lighting section. A producer of hand-crafted furniture and lighting, Tom Raffield manipulates wood in a unique way. Made from steam-bend strips of wood, Tom Raffield’s light shades create beautiful shadows with light dispersing across the room as it peeks through wooden curls. Those with a fireplace at home can also stack their wood in one of his elliptical log holders.
Moving on to the designers that are on our e-shop and Hidden Art members both past and present, we were very glad to find many of them exhibiting at Design Junction. We first said hello to Jen Taylor and had a chance to admire Hokolo’s full line of designs first hand.
Next was Lindsey Lang. Winner of this year’s Homes & Gardens Designer Awards 2014 – Young Designer Award, Lindsey’s stand featured her trademark patterns imprinted on cushions and kitchen accessories. Added to this was her take on tile design where blue white and grey mixed with round shapes to create soothing patterns for walls and flooring.
Noodoll’s stand was full of the playful attitude that sets the brand apart. Added to their bright-coloured stationery, their 2014 series of animal-shaped tablet cases and funny looking, monster hooks were all there. Noodoll’s Cloud Cushion, a new comer to our e-shop, stole the show for us!
Moving upstairs we stopped at Aarevalo’s stand to have a small chat and admire the Kakkoii series of speakers once again! Timeless design, bold colours and the ability to stream music from any Bluetooth device; one can’t ask for more from portable speakers. We were also introduced to ‘loop’d’, Aarevalo’s latest design: a mini-Bluetooth speaker you can wrap around your wrist. If you can’t part with your music when outside or doing sports ‘loop’d’ might be what you are looking for.
Seeing unexpected materials used as a basis for household accessories is always fun! Like these wall hooks and candle holders made from colourful pipeline in Nick Fraser’s space. Set next to them were his terracotta series of Pendant Shades and vases.
The 3d-printed Straw and ‘Henry’ the Egg Cup sets were attracting a lot of attention at DesignK’s stand. In the spotlight, however, was his all-new Geometry Collection. Re-imagining an everyday ritual, DesignK managed to bring the Bauhaus spirit to tea and coffee breaks. A full tableware set that marries elementary shapes with the constructive style of patterns, the Geometry collection proves that functional can also be beautiful and extra-ordinary.
Not far from DesignK’s stand we stopped at Vitamin’s space to get the latest update on their designs. Next to their familiar Knot Lamp Shades we spotted their brand new K Lamp. Made from terra cotta, its fusion of round shapes and earthly colours make it a beautiful decorative piece that could stand on its own even if it wasn’t a lamp.
Julian Mayor’s work is always fascinating. He is inspired by the sculptural possibilities of computers combined with industrial and craft making processes. At DesignJunction he launched the Organic Loop and Contour Chairs. He exhibited with Alex Garnett who designs tiles. He exhibited at the HIdden Art stand at 100% Design in 2003 when his Impression Chair was on the front cover of the Independent.
David Weatherhead’s love for wood and bold colours was spread all through By’s stand. We had a chance to admire By’s clock and stationery line and also spoke to David about the ‘Time Machines’ collection, a series of clocks that look like they jumped right out of a Dali painting! We’re very glad that ‘Time Machines’ will soon be arriving on our e-shop.
Having spoken to many designers, we had the last sip of our drink and headed off to Designersblock. Overall, Designjunction was a nice way to kick off the ‘festivities’ in this year’s London Design Festival and provided a nice warm-up and a lot of inspiration for the days that followed.
Designersblock was close to Designjunction in the lovely Clerkenwell in the Old Sessions House. For us it is one of the must-see destinations not only because of the variety of designs on display but also because of the opportunity to get a glimpse of the stunning architecture that London still has to offer.
Now in its 17th year, the 2014 edition of Designersblock took place in a beautiful building, the Old Sessions House at Clerkenwell. The space chosen couldn’t be more appropriate and it was well worth a visit even if design is not among your interests. The large marble surfaces, high-ceilings, wide old staircases and long corridors of this old courthouse were cleverly mixed with designers’ work, interesting lighting and colour choices to create a very modern, urban aesthetic. One of the show’s highlights was the succession of projections upon the building’s dome on the inside.
One of the most impressive spaces was the main hall on the upper level where designers exhibited their work under old-school arched windows and an immaculately painted ceiling against high, worn-out walls that brought the word industrial to mind.
A few minutes before closing we managed to see the Plumen’s Glowing Oak. Planted in the centre of a spacious room, a single tree was decorated with pendant light shades to create a stunning indoors light installation.
Overall, Designersblock stood out for its unique aesthetic, the choice of space and the emphasis put on young design talent.