Fiona Sibley, 4 May 2004
Hidden Art presented DESIGN LONDON at Milan 2004, showcasing work by 40 London-based designers.
Image: Dominic Crinson and Brenna Jensen
DESIGN LONDON made its international debut at Milan Design Week 2004, with a busy stream of international design companies, buyers, architects, specifiers, press and the public adding Milano-style colour to our eclectic display of furniture and products.
Following the opening party on the first night when hundreds of visitors joined a big picnic on the newly laid DESIGN LONDON grass, the little bit of London we transported to Milan’s Zona Tortona made a bold impact throughout the week.
Thousands of visitors were drawn to this exhibition representing the diverse range of design coming out of London, and exhibitors engaged in a busy week of business, debate and lively networking.
Exhibitors had a broad range of aims – test marketing concepts, exhibiting prototypes to attract manufacturing companies and selling in-production items to new retail accounts and agents.
Some of the leads generated at the show (so far) were:
Anti-Quaint’s Sling Seats received a huge level of interest, winning praise for their deeply relaxing aspect and gentle rocking motion. “Milan allowed us to test market the direction for our products, to establish an appropriate retail price and market and give us the green light to manufacture them in quantity,” said Alec Birkbeck, enjoying a highly successful Milan debut. They made contact with manufacturing contacts in Italy, Brazil, Turkey and Japan, and found new customers in Europe and the USA.
noodle’s low-suspended collection of lampshades with patterns based on natural elements, caught the attention of buyers from Urban Outfitters. Mitsubishi’s design department was interested in buying her digital print designs.
Lothair Hamann attracted a potential Italian lighting manufacturer to produce his chandeliers. Lothair also met an author writing a book on contemporary design theory and culture, who was interested in writing about his commitment to designing both by-products and products within a holistic design process.
Dan Black, of black+blum said: “The stand looked fantastic and we were really pleased with everything. We picked up four new accounts in Italy that we wanted and significant interest from a Japanese buyer who fronts a chain of 18 high end furniture design outlets. Milan is always a great time to catch up with our customers, like Cairo, a mail order company that also buys for over 40 high end stores in Germany.”
His design partner Martin Blum added: “London is internationally known for its contribution to pop music, advertising and graphics. In those fields London is cutting edge. Furniture and products by London designers have been getting increasing exposure over the last five years and only just starting to make the rest of the world aware of London’s talent. DESIGN LONDON has been a great opportunity to help shape this. The stand had the most important ingredient which is soul.”
“The fact that we have exhibited in Milan has helped in our other business dealings, for people to take us seriously,” said Clare Page and Harry Richardson of COMMITTEE.
“It was a vibrant feast of inspiration and exchange of ideas for any designer,” said Doug Harper, whose illuminated furniture, LITABLES, attracted attention from some club owners and from the fashion house Balenciaga.
Kal Chottai built on his growing profile in Milan, finding contacts with a view to manufacturing the Kushee© range, newly designed with Katherine Pogson.
“DESIGN LONDON was a very attractive section of an important show, so we were pleased to have been a part of it,” said W2 Products Ltd, who were looking for an Italian agent to distribute their products.
Thélermont Hupton, who also had a successful show at the Salon Satellite, said: “We wanted to be part of DESIGN LONDON so we could be seen as part of a collective.”
At the end of the show, the Contour Chair by Julian Mayor used by a German photographic agency for a fashion shoot with Brazilian supermodel Michelle Alves, taking place that week inside Superstudio 13. Julian’s chair may now appear in European versions of Vogue or Elle.
The exhibition stand, designed by Clare Etien Snc (Milan) was praised for creating a relaxed haven, during a week of hectic events. Many exhibitors, enjoying their first visit to the Milan Furniture Fair, were overwhelmed by the scale of the show, and proud to be part of the experience.
Visitors to DESIGN LONDON included:
Special guest: Sir Ivor Roberts – British Ambassador in Milan
Press: Vogue Italia, Elle Décor (Italy), Surface magazine, Domus, Design-italia, Case de Abitare, Abitare, Domus Academy, Design Diffusion, Ottagano, Grazia Magazine, La Republica, Icon, Marie Claire, Daily Telegraph Magazine, Elle Decoration, Living etc, Design Week, Vogue (Paris), d(x)i, Lucidesigntv (Paris), Elle Decoration (Poland), Edizione Fiera Milano, Klubs magazine (Latvia), Design Jungle magazine (Korea), Canoh magazine (Ukraine), Liberation (France), Designreport (Germany), Le Vif magazine, Luxury Times (Russia), The Official Point of View
Organisations: Politecnico di Milano, 100% Design, Venice Biennale, Design Museum, Crafts Council, Fabbricadi architettura, Istituto Europeo di Design, Spaziocasa, Industrial Design Dept – TU/e Eindhoven, University of New South Wales, The Innovation Centre – Central St. Martin’s, Creda, Modo, Studiolabo, Movie Magic International, RiMA
Designers: Michael Sodeau, Tom Dixon, Sheridan Coakley, el ultimo grito, designers from Nike, Nokia, Balenciaga and Carhartt
Agents / Outlets: Purves & Purves, Urban Outfitters, Kiel’s (New York), Design-within-reach, De Bijenkorf (Holland), Cairo (Germany), Marui access Co. Ltd (Japan), Ikea.
Studio 6 Furniture Design
Folding Company Ltd
Sway by Thelermont Hupton