Catherine Bowen, Plascon Trends Editor
London Design Festival 2014 has just been and gone… It took place from the 13th to the 21st September and keeps growing in size and scale with each passing year. Have a quick peek at the London Design Festival highlights from last year:
London Design Festival Highlights 2013
This event is actually a collection of large group-shows that take place across the city of London, in which both new and established exhibitors from the UK and around the world, debut their designs.
These ‘Design Destinations’ are platforms for designers and manufacturers to reach new markets and present their products and innovations…
100% Design is the capital’s biggest and original contemporary design show and is in its 20th year. The show has five zones: Interiors, Workplace, Kitchens and Bathrooms, Eco, Design and Build, and Emerging Brands.
“Decorex International” moved to Syon Park in 2014 and is the UK’s leading luxury design and interiors show with stands that create inspirational showcases for the 13 000 visitors it attracts.
2014 is the fourth edition of designjunction and took place in the industrial Sorting Office on New Oxford Street, and spanned four floors.
The ground floor was a range of pop-up stores for on-site shopping and featured an installation from dezeen in collaboration with Mini (see the below clip). In the words of dezeen editor Marcus Fairs, the various designers’ offerings that made up this installation were not just beautiful, they were provocative too…
“lightjunction” took place in the basement with product launches and large-scale installations, and the first and second floors were dedicated to new brands.
Focus/14 consisted of 99 showrooms and over 500 international brands that showcased new ranges and the ‘in conversation’ sessions with influential global names in design, as well as the Access All Areas showroom events that were the backbone of this event.
“Tent London” and “Super Brands London” trade-shows returned for their 8th year of the festival and had over 280 companies from 29 countries that presented a diverse range of products by both global brands, established independents and undiscovered talents.
The highlights were presentations by Tokyo Design Week and 100% Norway, the return of the Super Design Gallery, and collaborations led by Nendo and Marcel Wanders.
To get a sense of the calibre of design on offer during this week-long festival, you need only look at one of the fringe exhibitions of LDF2014: that of Cutler And Gross and Tracey Neuls at 73 Redchurch Street. I can attest to being as guilty as the next person of consuming fashion, without any thought as to how/where/what happens in the design process of an item.
With their products, Cutler And Gross and Tracey Neuls wanted to create a ‘shop in shop’ of brand parallels, process and design inspirations, and a showcase for the company’s expertise, craftsmanship, intention and attention-to-detail in producing their product.
The space had a hint of restaurant aesthetic and there were hanging clusters of shoes and glasses displayed above a sketched-on tablecloth. The objects were staged to create different dialogues, relating to the design histories and narratives of each item, and were all interchangeable as the installation progressed over the event.
The “Intelligent Life Boot” which was on show (above) is the outcome of designing the ‘ultimate boot’. The design team began by thinking about what it is that all women want out of our footwear: Comfort and beauty were paramount.
Through this questioning, they realized that their block heel was the best performer from “a cobbled street to a Boris bike and beyond”. They then clothed the components with melted glass leather “for a touch of understated luxury” – yielding a fashion item in which function and form are seamlessly melded.
Another fascinating project of LDF2014 that was initiated by the American Hardwood Export Council and Benchmark Furniture in conjunction with design luminary Sir Terence Conran (showcased at the V&A). “The Wish List” – a stellar list of architects and designers who created a compelling and moving installation of wooden design – serves as an ode to the beauty, versatility and enduring charm of this most ancient of design resources.
As long as there have been humans on this planet, we have been imagining and envisaging ways to transform wood into both decorative and utilitarian objects. Wood is a design resource that, unlike others, is completely renewable and environmentally friendly – if we can but learn to manage it with the respect and admiration it deserves!
So watch out for two more posts in October, which will bring you the London Design Festival highlights of these five different elements of LDF2014 🙂