I mentioned in my last post that I could see three distinct trends emerge from London Design Festival – a colour, a shape and a material - so here are the final two trends that I promised.
Looking at form, many designs were oval, circular with marine like quality, almost ethereal and organic looking.
To further soften the shapes, some of the designs were finished in a soft rubberised, ultra matt finish which blurred the edges into a soft and tactile product.
In my mind, the best product from the entire festival, which slots into this circular trend, was the M lamp designed by David Irwin for Juniper. Irwin was inspired by British 19th century miner’s lamps such as the Georgie, Davy and Carbide lamps. Pared down, simple and practical, the M lamp is a wireless (powered by a lithium iron phosphate rechargeable battery) easily transportable, beautiful object. I am certainly coveting one for a bedside lamp – it also dims – but I can visualise it in countless positions around my house.
As you will know, lace has been a dominant force in the design world recently and it’s a theme that is set to continue. It was evident that many designers have looked at the qualities of lace and have used other materials which are semi- transparent, cut-out, and mesh like.
The final theme was extremely prevalent – the use of pale timber. Having been to most of the venues in the festival I don’t recall seeing any dark woods at all. Pale oak, ash and birch were however almost exclusively pared with blocks of fresh vibrant colour whether painted like many of Lermont Hupton pieces or used with coloured felt like Barnby and Day‘s felt and ash stool.
Most of these trends rely on contrast – soft wool next to hard timber, a burst of urgent red in an otherwise white room, a gentle organic form giving a solid and practical solution. But the display of Mimicry chairs from the Japanese design studio Nendo in the Victoria and Albert’s tapestry room has left the longest impression with me due to its seemingly very stark contrast with its surrounding.
At first glance it looks to be in complete contrast to its surrounding – a modern, light, sharp design placed within a dimly lit room filled with ancient two dimensional soft tapestries. A total contrast surely? But no, the Mimicry was designed to mimic its surrounding. The huge frame rising from the chair I guess represents the shape of the massive tapestries, the seemingly never ending perspective again mimicking the almost life- like scenes depicted in the textiles or representing the endless corridors in the castles these tapestries are normally found in? The position of a chair to the side of the artwork exactly where an antique chair would be found next to a tapestry – there are probably more similarities, you may well spot some so let me know if you do. It took me a while to register this play on design but it reminded me to look carefully and think about what I see. Something Charles Eames asked his potential employees in interviews – ‘if you can see and you can think, I can work with you’.