My big project at the London Design Festival this year was BRINK, a collaboration with Tent London. I scoured graduate shows up and down (and outside of) the UK and curated my selection of 2013’s design graduates.


Wonseok Jung studied robotics before doing his Masters at the Royal College of Art. The Bird is absolutely mesmerizing—the movement of its wings is slow and accurate. People were constantly wandering up to the stand with their heads tilted upwards, unable to take their eyes off it!


The Bird was originally conceived as an art installation, but Wonseok now sees its application as a functioning light fitting in restaurants, bars, hotels, and perhaps even residential interiors.


New Designer of the Year at 2013’s New Designers, Henry Franks takes the negative aspects of dyslexia and turns them into positive product attributes. The Confused Coat Hanger wasn’t paying attention when it was told which way it should face, because it was daydreaming about whales (note the whale tail shape), and as a result it faces both ways, making it twice as functional.


Having studied product design in Brazil, Carolina Peraca moved to London to study ceramics at Central Saint Martins. Her marbled boxes are made by gently combining decorative slip into the clay when it’s wet. Each one has a copper or brass lid.


Alex Mueller exhibited in Milan and at Clerkenwell Design Week before he’d even graduated. At the London Design Festival, not only was he selected for BRINK, but also selected by his university, The Cass, to be part of their stand at designjunction. He also won the Heal’s Discovers award, meaning that his origami-inspired table will be stocked in Heal’s. A bit of a star!


Manchester Metropolitan’s Hannah Quinn showed her Plumbing Jars, colorful containers made from materials more commonly associated with the plumbing trade, such as plastic and copper piping – a bathroom plug even made an appearance as a lid!


Turkish designer Bilge Nur Saltik presented Share Food, a concept that responds to the changing the way we eat. Each plate, bowl, or cup can be tipped allowing people to offer some of their food or drink to the people they’re dining with. A clever concept beautifully executed with flashes of neon orange.


Sam Jennings studied at Falmouth University and has developed the Concrete Canvas Stool. He wanted to reverse the idea of a stool with wooden legs and a canvas seat, so this stool has fabric legs and a wooden seat.


The Concrete Canvas(TM) is shaped while wet and dries into shape, creating gravity-defying structures like this one. It weighs a ton, but it’s absolutely beautiful!


Hold by Gav Birmingham had to be the most unassuming product on the stand, but perhaps the one with the most power to do good. Briefed by Dundee University to design a product that would make someone’s life better, Gav turned to his diabetic brother for ideas. Hold safely disposes of used hypodermic needles and dispenses new ones – staggering, nothing currently exists that does this. But more than that, its design is inspired by Zippo lighters so that it is enjoyable to use and touch – instead of the gaudy plastic most medical products are made of. A really empathetic response to the brief.


Finally, Face-o-mat! I met Tobias Gutmann in Milan and just knew I had to bring Face-o-mat to London.


You insert your money through a slot just like a traditional photo booth, then you make your selections, for example, on a sliding scale between ‘natural’ and ‘facelift’ and Tobias draws a one-off portrait in just three minutes! There were queues all week!

BRINK Tent London LDF13

Portrait photography by Adam Hollier. Product shots of The Bird and the Concrete Canvas Stool by Yeshen Venema. Styling by Zoe Brewer.

Our trip to the London Design Festival was supported by

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.