LDF13: Tent London

I think Tent was my favorite show at the London Design Festival again this year – it has loads of natural light (a rare treat during a week spent in basements, exhibition centers, and repurposed industrial buildings), a lovely relaxed festival vibe fueled by good music and good coffee, and crucially a slew of new talent alongside established independent designer-makers. First in the latter camp was Reiko Kaneko with her gorgeous white ceramics really popping against a turquoise backdrop.


Bjorn Andersson made his debut with the launch of lighting range Cutting Corners. He said: “I just loved showing at Tent. It was a great experience for me. I loved interacting with the other designers and visitors. They were all so supportive and inspiring.”


Junction Fifteen were launching the Olly Stool – named after Oliver Twist for its twisted base. One half on Junction Fifteen, Ben Frost says: “Our inspiration stems from the observation of how we interact with everyday objects and utilising our local manufacturing resource. We’re always questioning the things around us: why and how? You’ll be surprised how quickly you can kickstart your creativity. Get out and about, observe. An idea can come from anywhere.”


Rachel Powell was launching a new elephant fabric. She said: “What inspired my Nellie print was a small Luigi Colani money box that I have at home. It’s a bright yellow one. I knew I wanted to do a really cool elephant print and it was really simple. It was a really easy process and was designed extremely quickly. But it looks beautiful and I love it.”


Alongside the usual range of fabrics and cushions, Room 39 was showcasing a collaboration with creative upholsterer Jude Dennis, known for her innovative adaptation of Robin Day Polyprop chairs. I think it’s a really interesting direction for both designers.


It was really exciting to come across Tamasyn Gambell’s work for the first time, and to see her new collection Simple Geometry. She said: “It’s all based around geometric shapes interacting with each other and lots of bright, fresh colors interacting with quiet muted ones.”


Melanie Porter’s gorgeous knitted creations might just signal the tipping point from the longstanding and much loved color combination grey and yellow to new pretenders grey and orange. Tangerine was Pantone’s color for 2012, so it’s not as if we weren’t warned!


Tent 2013 marks Sian Elin’s first anniversary in business after her launch here last year. She said: “Most of my patterns are Middle Eastern and Islamic inspired, and based on my travels. I’ve travelled to India a lot, I’ve lived in Israel and I’ve travelled all around Southern Spain where there’s lots of Moorish architecture.”


Sebastian Cox is a man obsessed with hazel. His dedication is incredibly inspiring and really shows in the quality of his products. He said: “I am so in love with my material and how it ties in with a more sustainable life, I sit up at night thinking about it, reading up on it and watching TED talks about it. Planing a board of quarter sawn English timber to reveal its medullary flecks and rays genuinely makes my pulse race.”


I love Psalt Design’s Atlas series. They said: “It’s inspired by structures and architecture in and around Sheffield. We’re taking the forms of bridges and other structural and architectural features and translating them into a design for a table and a bench.”

Tent London LDF13

And last but by no means least, Seven Gauge Studios is still flying the flag for yellow and grey with this fabulous range of knitted textiles all made in the UK.

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.