London Design Festival – Trend Two and Three

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’

23 thoughts on “London Design Festival – Trend Two and Three

    • You are too kind Betsy and you totally cheered me up as my car just broke down and I’ve been told the whole gear boxed needs replaced so it was lovely to come back to read your comment, thank you!

      Yes, the M lamp is a great design and I could see it evolving into a family of lights, especially external wall lights. In fact it reminds me a little of the lovely Joe Columbo wall lights called ‘Fresnel’ that he designed in 1966.


  1. Thanks for sharing your Design Festival highlights Niki, it is good to see art from a different perspective. The piece in the Victoria and Albert Museum is amazing.


    • Hi Kelly, thanks for your comment as it’s always really interesting to hear about the trends over on your side of the Atlantic. It seems that UK, N. American and Canadian trends are getting closer these days.
      I love the organic shapes designs, especially the baths but plenty of space is required to let them ‘breathe’ don’t you think?


  2. Great review Niki! You have such a good eye and your enthusiasm’s infectious! Don’t you love this time of year for its sheer optimism, derived from seeing all the wonderful things that are being crafted, whether furniture or frocks? I get very excited!!


    • Thanks Claire and yes, I absolutely, Iove the change of seasons and the renewed inspiration it gives. We are heavily into bramble and rose hip picking, juicing beetroots and wilting crazy yellow and red chard which apart from tasting so good, bring the most wonderfully rich colours to the table which cant help but inspire. What are you creating at the moment?


  3. I’m juggling madly….I’ve got bolts of cloth which are being much neglected (some lovely mid grey wool flannel, the most glorious peacock blue wool twill and a weird salmon pink wool voile which is stumping me but which I couldn’t resist!) because I’m trying to clear my new allotment and build a fruit cage and get the asparagus in which the ground’s still warm! And my poor children just look pained when I put the chard on the table…again! And I’ve got a couple of clients to keep happy too….and no time to write! But life’s good!


    • Mmmm, ‘mid grey wool flannel and peacock blue twill’, ooh, Clare, I am loving the sound of your bolts (satchel/handbag please!). Wool voile sounds interesting too, I expect you will dream up something beautiful. I bet you would like as Lois is an amazing seamstress too.
      As for building a fruit cage, I am very jealous as all our berries were taken this year (again) but we do have gorgeous garden birds to show for it! We’ve had some vicious frosts already so no asparagus around here. As for pained looks and chard, I have a solution! – I have started putting it in vases as I like looking at it so much – I bet your kids will love me now!! 😉


  4. Wow, there is so much to admire in your post, so many interesting designs, but my favorites are the lights, especially the soft circular ones. Love that soft glow. I wouldn’t mind wearing one like a hat :^)


  5. Pingback: London Design Festival 2012 - The furnishing touch

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