London Design Festival 2018

This September London was taken over by exhibitions, events and installations celebrating all things design. On behalf of Tap, Ciaran, Alice, Conor and Sarah took the time to visit the festival to further our knowledge on the design industry. Below is Sarah’s account of the trip.

With a year’s experience in my back pocket, I knew what to expect when I arrived in London for the 2018 Design Festival. Much like last year, I aimed to start the weekend at 100% Design, however having been up since 4am, I decided to get some breakfast first. This year I had the pleasure of travelling with my trusty fellow designer Conor, who arrived at the airport with a map pinned with good food spots to visit while in the big city. Conor led the way to our breakfast destination, located just outside Victoria Station, Sourced Market.

Sourced Market was one of the first places we visited that opened my eyes to how retail is changing to match our modern-day lifestyle. Not only does it have a large café and deli area to cater for grab and go food and drinks, but a cheese counter, off licence and store cupboard items section. These supermarket style additions to the cafe allow customers to pick up additional supplies as well as their morning coffee or lunch. The difference between Sourced Market and other café/food stores is that each item is locally sourced. This makes for a carefully curated selection of produce paired with an equally well designed space.

After a bite to eat and a coffee, we were back on the road to 100% Design. 100% Design is a large trade event showcasing high end commercial, residential and product design. It wasn’t long before I noticed that there was less of a ‘plastic’ feel to the show than the previous year, with many of the exhibitors showcasing natural materials and finishes. A welcome change, perhaps because of the recent move away from single use plastics in many major companies. The selection of office furniture on show was very strong this year. With a rise in offices installing open plan work spaces, it is more important than ever to ensure there are areas suitable for meetings and quiet spaces to get stuff done.

At this point we were beginning to tire so we left 100% Design and began the journey across the city to our next destination; Design Junction on South Bank. Thankfully there was a Sainsburys on our walk to the tube station, so we stocked up on a bag of almonds and two bananas to help fuel our way to the other side. Upon arriving at South Bank, we met the other half of our London Design Festival team; Alice and Ciaran and grabbed some lunch.

With our energy levels boosted we were ready to hit Design Junction. Design Junction was a lovely combination of industrial design, service design and experience design. One of the experiential zones was Designer’s Dreamscape, an inclusive co-working space in which people could meet, work and create together. The space had dimmed lighting and a long communal table, complete with large sketch pads for brainstorming ideas. The acoustics were controlled using sound absorbing panels suspended from the ceiling helping to minimise the noise that can amount from several conversations happening at once. For me this was a great addition to the exhibition as after checking out all the exhibitors, a space to sit down and digest the information was very welcome!

Day two of our trip was dedicated to London Design Fair held in the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. This exhibition stretched over three floors crammed with independent craft and studio work. For me, this was the most inspiring event due to the volume and diversity of work on show. See below some of our highlights.

Haru Stuck on Design is a colourful tape designed in Japan. The concept is simple, apply it to anything you like. The tape comes in four widths – 5cm, 15cm, 30cm and 60cm and can be used to enhance furniture, walls, doors, skateboards – literally anything. The best part is the tape is made with a special glue that allows you to simply peel it off whatever you stick it to, without damaging the surface below.

Smile Plastics also had an eye-catching stand showcasing their 100% recycled plastics. The display showcased how their pressed decorative panels can look as table tops and other surfaces. Their material is made from yogurt pots, food packaging and other waste items. It is hand arranged before being pressed into panels. This means that each panel is unique.

There is so much to write about that it’s hard to condense the trip into just one blog post. Therefore, we have decided to write a series of blogs focusing on different highlights we saw this year – so stay tuned for more!

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Luxury Laminates

We have seen bare birch ply and chipboard used in retail and office spaces for the past couple of years. However this year we have seen and nice refresh of using these cheap materials with a more luxurious finish.

Dusty colour tones with a matt finish has elevated the humble laminate from the cheap alternative to a more bespoke finish. We seen companies such as Uncommon ProjectsJames Burleigh and Hitch & Mylius showcasing the potential of this finer finish. At London Design Fair Finsa used a black MDF fiberboard with a dusty laminate to showcase their Envisions exhibition.

Super Solid Surfaces

We have seen a lot of really beautiful examples of terrazzo over the years at London Design Fair such as Katie Gillies. However this year we seen Huget Mallorca pushing out the design capabilities of terrazzo with their furniture and bathtub.

In further innovations in solid surface materials we were blown away by Earthanatomys thin stone veneer. Concrete and and stone can create a real statement within your retail or office space. The structural and cost implications of using stone however are limiting. Earthanatomy has created a concrete and stone veneer on a flexible resin backing. With a quality finish, this innovation really got us excited to getting to use it in coming projects.

Quaint & Quite

The increasing demand for spaces that perform well acoustically has driven a lot of furniture makers creation more featured sound dampening systems. Hitch & Mylius, Halle and Icons of Denmark were all exhibiting furniture systems to help quieten the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We also experienced the Designer Dreamscape room from Icon which was a reclusive space entirely clad with sound dampening panels.

Baux appeared in a number of stall displays such as Chalk Jewelry, proving the aesthetic progression of acoustic solutions. Head over to our sustainable materials blog to learn more about Baux and other materials.

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