LDF17: Three Floors of Design and Innovation at the London Design Fair

10.05.17 | By
LDF17: Three Floors of Design and Innovation at the London Design Fair

The London Design Fair (encompassing a number of country pavilions, Tent London and Super Brands London, but not be confused with the London Design Festival, which is the London-wide event) was back at East London’s Truman Brewery for another year, this time filling the three floors and feeling like a much more cohesive offering. The exhibitors were of the usual high standard and included the likes of Katie Gillies Surface Design (above) showcasing her bespoke surfaces, all handmade in the UK.

Kana London was founded by fine artist Ana Kerin, who turned her hand to pottery after a background in sculpture. The resulting ceramics are handmade, functional, tactile and very much bear the ‘mark of the maker.’

Kana London was part of the British Craft Pavilion, curated by quarterly print magazine Hole & Corner, as was East London based Forest + Found. Established by Royal College of Art graduates Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth, the collaboration involves working with wood, natural pigments and textiles, to produce sculptural and wall-based works.

Jesmonite – a combination of natural raw materials with a blend of water-based pure acrylic polymers – was the London Design Fair’s ‘material of the year.’ “We thought long and hard, and finally, our ignorance yielded our decision,” said the team. “Over the last twelve months, we have most often been surprised to find that Jesmonite has been the medium for some of the most vivid color displays and fine detail in the products we have been most intrigued by.” These Jesmonite sculptures are by Zuza Mengham and appeared alongside work by Arin Prin.

Floor Story, known for their bold and colorful rugs that take center stage in any interior, collaborated with Zandra Rhodes to create this vision in pink (above left), one of three designs for the Floor Story, inspired by images taken from her 1960s archive.

The United States was one of the country pavilions represented at the London Design Fair, this year curated by Sight Unseen and entitled Assembly. This rug in two parts is by New York-based multidisciplinary design studio Studio Proba, founded in 2013 by Alex Proba.

Another favorite from Assembly was this mesmerizing mobile by Seattle and Brooklyn-based Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. “Our aesthetic and design philosophy is about complementary opposites with an unexpected balance of warm minimalism, playful austerity, and simple sophistication,” say founders Dylan Davis and Jean Lee.

Elsewhere in the show, James Stickley’s Skip-inspired sideboard provided both humor and a pop of color. With a background in art direction and set design for television, James describes his style as “graphic minimal.”

Mijo Studio is a Danish-Norwegian design duo specializing in prints, patterns and textiles. “Experimenting with colors and textures, our work is always based in analogue techniques and is characterized by a curious and playful approach to the creative process,” say co-founders Miranda Tengs Brun and Josefine Gilbert. We love the very on-trend PostModern vibe that results from that approach.

And finally, these stacking stools are a collaboration between iconic British furniture manufacturer Ercol and SolidWool – a venture from the South West of the country to revive the wool industry by making a new composite material from wool and bio-resin.

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.