London calling

It’s no secret that if design has exploded anywhere, it’s London. 100% Design, the annual London-based design show held in Earl’s Court, has now blossomed into five interconnected events: 100% Design, 100% Detail, 100% Light, 100% Futures and 100% Materials. This year, for the first time, the show was under the creative tutelage of British design superstar Tom Dixon, who treated the fair as a city – complete with squares, avenues and theatres – giving each section its own unique character.

Six years ago, 100% Design spawned the London Design Festival: over 200 incestuous design events sprawling throughout a city 1,600 square kilometers in size inhabited by 14 million people. “It’s a London thing,” says Dixon. “100% kickstarted a whole design scene here.” For more about the London Design Festival, please see page 43.

What is most refreshing about London’s design scene – whether on the show floor or in one of the festival’s venues – is that British design sensibility is experimental, inspirational and spirited, whether focused on technology, material use or sustainability.

1–Orb Tray, Trabecula Table

As fast as you can say laser-sintered material… Dutch design studio FOC (Freedom of Creation) creates tactile space-age furniture and accessories by going directly from a CAD file to a solid object. Using an EOS manufacturing system, 3D products are created by layering powder materials (plastic, metal or sand) fused together with a laser.

2–1:8, 1:10

In the 100% Futures section, featuring emerging design talent, Ed Swan’s 1:8 and 1:10 proved to be literally just an illusion. Inspired by the camera obscura – an ancient image-making device – eight to 10 lenses are placed around one bulb, thereby obscuring the distinction between interior and exterior.

3– Loop, Line

British and Irish London- based design collective UsTogether joined with Corian’s newest worthy competitor, LG Hi- Macs ( a seamless, scratch-resistant, non- porous natural acrylic stone), to create slick bathroom environments. The Loop series’ rounded edges have a retro feel and customizable graphic panels. The Line series is more hard- edged and angular. In both cases, fixtures are hidden, waterflow mechanisms motion- activated and hidden light panels changed at the drop of water.

4– Light Garden

In support of Greenpeace’s climate- change campaign, London designer Jason Bruges created Light Garden, in which 250 of the U. K.’ s first energy- efficient fully dimmable bulbs were planted. Lights responded to the movement of passersby.

5– hm3

U. K. contract upholstery manufacturer HitchMylius is known for its collaborations with British starchitects Nigel Coates and David Chipperfield; the hm93 seating collection represents HitchMylius’ third collaboration with Chipperfield. Designed for public spaces, Hm93 is a modular system that can be used independently or in groups. The double- fronted unit provides ample seating space, with staggered backs providing various degrees of intimacy.


Jewellery designer Winnie Lui created the limited-edition WHITE collection for lighting and accessories manufacturer Innermost, based in London and Hong Kong. It consists of 50 individual White chandeliers and 50 individual Black chandeliers – in which objets trouvs meet bling and trash is made equal to treasure through the application of uniform colour.


A recent graduate in illustration and graphic design from the Royal College of Art, Erica Waverly has managed to establish herself in two short years as an award-winning textile designer. Shortlisted for the 2007 Elle Decoration Britain Awards, Homes wallpaper is a playful illustration of the furniture, tools and accessories found in a home, layered one on top of the other.

Talk of the town

One of the newest additions to the London Design Festival is Tent London, launched this year by 100% Design founder Ian Rudge. Open to the public, Tent London is held in the Truman Brewery, a reclaimed industrial site in London’s east end; it features 10 small, interconnected events, offering art, architecture, contemporary design, vintage design, raw talent and established designers. One such designer is Drew Oliver. Tucked into a corner of Tent London’s Talent Zone, Oliver’s Drunken Table and Crooked Lamp stood shyly. Likened to a “young deer standing for the first time,” the Drunken Table’s woodturned cuts formed and then rejoined give the illusion that the table is weak at the knees Also contributing to Tent London were art director Yuji Tokuda (formerly of Amsterdambased ad agency, KesselsKramer) and producer Junya Ishikawa (animation lecturer at the Kyoto Seika University). The pair’s “retired weapons?” consisted of a multidisciplinary peace message manifested in a wall-size video projection of war icons, along with an installation of a life-size inflated “retired tank.”

Another provocative presentation was provided by U.K.-based furniture manufacturer Established & Sons. In an almost impossible-to-find dark warehouse space accompanied by Gregorian chanting, Established & Sons presented Elevated Design, an exhibit of 29 production pieces by design greats Jasper Morrison, Zaha Hadid, Barber Ogersby and others, each cast in white carrera marble and positioned on 19-foot-high plinths. (“A commentary,” Established & Sons’ co-founder Alasdhair Willis explains, “on the (design) editions market.”)

Last year, Tom Dixon gave away hundreds of chairs in Trafalgar Square. This year, he took over the celebrated square again, presenting a chandelier of 500 “blow” lights – white opaque lights using low-energy, compact fluorescent light bulbs; 1,000 of them were then given away free. Dixon explains he did this to expose design to the general public and to make sustainability more accessible.

Marcus Friars curated TrashLuxe at U.K. design lifestyle retailer Liberty. Using a combination of established and non-established designers from both the U.K. and Europe, “luxury (was) reinvented by young designers who find beauty in unexpected and unwanted materials,” according to Friars. Karen Ryan reassembled secondhand furniture, while lighting designer Paul Cocksedge used found materials like polystyrene cups.

1–Phantom, Mosaic

Graham & Brown teamed up with Canadian design housewares manufacturer Umbra to produce a collection of new wallpapers, using metallic prints in Phantom and a geometric circular design in Mosaico.

2–Series 21

Known for his red dot award-winning glass ball pendant lights, Vancouver-based lighting designer Omer Arbel launched a new product under his own company name, Bocci. Series 21 is a “custom chandelier” of thin sheets of raw white porcelain enveloping blown Pyrex glass cones of various sizes, joyfully suspended in midair.

3-Flame Lamps

Ten Again features 10 designers’ views on London’s sustainable design issues. British curator Chris Jackson invited 10 designers to each produce 10 objects with materials found within a 10-kilometre radius of their studios, spending only 10 British pounds. Gitta Gschwendtner’s 10 Flame Lamps showcase energy-efficient bulbs whose bodies nod to the burning of resources.

4–Matt hew Hilt on Collection

Furniture designer Matthew Hilton, known for his work fo
r Driade, Habitat and Authentics, launched his new, eponymous collection. Rather than teaming up with an established manufacturer or backer, he produced his collection independently, with manufacturing done in Slovenia and Sri Lanka. Choosing to “take it slowly,” the designer has come out with 10 pieces, which have no names other than chair, table, etc., and are meant to stand individually on their own. The pieces are made of solid woods, and teak from managed forests.