It’s hard to imagine 550 different exhibitors from 40 countries in one space showing the newest and most innovative designs across furniture, lighting, textiles, materials and conceptual installations. It’s even harder to be there in person. With so much exciting new design vying for your attention, it’s difficult to know where to begin and when to finish. We believe that to really make the most of London Design Fair, it’s a good idea to arrive with figurative blinkers on: aim to see just a handful of exhibitions that have caught your eye and your imagination.
Unfortunately London Design Fair has ended and we’ll have to wait approximately 360 days until the next instalment. For those who didn’t manage to make an appearance this year, we’ve rounded up three of our favourite designs, designs that we feel embody the general feeling of the fair as a whole.
Founded in 2015 by Lasse Laine, Sebastian Jansson and Niclas Ahlström, Made By Choice uses modern technology to reconcile Finnish design tradition with a contemporary urban lifestyle. The brand is based around one central inspiration: Nordic happiness. Scandinavian people are, apparently, some of the happiest in the world and according to Made By Choice, this comes down to enjoying life, design and creativity with sustainable values.
Kolho is designed by Matthew Day Jackson, an American artist whose multifaceted practice encompasses sculpture, painting, collage, photography, drawing, video, performance and installation. In the designer’s own words, Kolho is “a small town in Finland, and a word that eludes definition in English but can be described as meaning vacant, hollow or even creepy.” These eye-catching chairs and tables combine serpent-like bases with the flat plane of the seat or tabletop in an unorthodox and unmissable display. Jackson says of his design:
“The story of Apollo, as both a NASA mission and the Greek god of reason, is the genesis of this project. Apollo’s brother, Dionysus, reigns over ritual madness, theatre, pleasure, fertility, and of course, wine. The two contradictory temperaments meet at this table: the flat, rational plane of the table sits upon legs that curve and wind like a serpent or grapevine. In designing this furniture, I was seeking the space between Reason and Chaos: the state of play. This is the space where the human animal shows its greatest self.”
The exhibitions by PLYdesign, High Society and Made By Choice epitomised the zeitgeist. Each studio and their products abide by similar values: looking to the past for references and inspiration but updating the designs with new techniques and values. As we expected, sustainability was a major theme at the London Design Fair but more impressive was the variety of ways in which studios approached this theme. Extreme creativity, innovation and a general sense of excitement towards the future possibilities of design were obvious. If that’s not a reason to make a visit next year then we don’t know what is.
Based in South-Tyrol, Italy, High Society focuses on creating plant-based objects by upcycling post-industrial waste like hemp and tobacco. Experimenting with new production processes that combine technology and skilled craftsmanship, the studio underlines the importance of seeing waste as a primary resource.
Funnily enough, High Society’s work that caught our eyes is actually called Highlight. These minimal lampshades come in a range of sizes and are at their most striking when grouped together. The shades are all unique thanks to the production process. Made from the by-products of hemp, tobacco and wine production using compression-moulding techniques, each set of products has a deep, natural hue of its own. Our favourite is the wine range, made using the solid remains of wine production – pomace – collected from a local organic winery. The depth of colour and irregular texture is near mesmerising.
PLYdesign is a young furniture design studio hailing from Hungary. The label is built upon a solid 25 years of experience in manufacturing moulded plywood components. A long-time supplier for labels like Vitra and Scandiform, the team decided to develop their own plywood products in collaboration with young Hungarian designers with an aim to reestablish Hungary as a destination on the furniture design map.
Designed by András Kerékgyártó, the FLEET collection caught our attention because of the smooth, retro curvature. Varnished, curved plywood lends the chairs a rich hue which is certainly inspired by Ray Eames’ seminal lounge chair, though PLYdesign’s approach is more minimal. Both comfortable and stylish, the chairs can be stacked easily – they weigh very little – and come with a classic four-leg base, sled base or aluminium wheel base.
Together, we think that the exhibitions by PLYdesign, High Society and Made By Choice epitomised the zeitgeist. Each studio and their products abide by similar values: looking to the past for inspiration but updating the designs with new techniques and values. As we expected, sustainability was a major theme at the London Design Fair but more impressive were the ways in which studios approached this theme. Extreme creativity, innovation and a general sense of excitement towards the future possibilities of design was obvious and if that’s not a reason to make a visit next year then we don’t know what is.
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