The Shoreditch Design Triangle is a loose association of shops, exhibitions and showrooms, united by little more than geography, but it always serves up something wonderful, and often something pretty weird too. Starting with the latter, London-based Mexican designer Fernando Laposse transformed the entrance to CitizenM’s Shoreditch hotel into Sisal Sanctum – an outdoor seating area protected by pretty gloomy looking “giant guardians” – all entirely made out of sisal, a natural fiber harvested from a species of Agave cactus found in the South of Mexico.
Described by the brand as a “curious world where brooms, brushes and combs take centre stage,” the traveling exhibition combines a series of surprisingly varied and niche brushes with curator Michael Marriott’s playful yet considered descriptions which blur the line between fact and fiction.
Moving firmly into the wonderful is the latest iteration of Ready Made Go, a collaboration between the Ace Hotel and Modern Design Review editor Laura Houseley. Each year, the Ace provides Laura with a list of objects they genuinely need and a budget equivalent to what they’d spend sourcing them off the shelf. Laura then curates a selection of London-based designers to design, prototype and manufacture the products, which immediately go into use.
This year’s exhibition showcased the new products alongside previous year’s offerings, which made it harder to find the latest pieces by M-L-XL, Laetitia de Allegri, Abigail Booth, Will Drye & Domonic Postlethwaite and Minimalux, but did demonstrate the breadth of this project, now in its fourth consecutive year, which aimed to create something of permanency in the all too often fleeting context of a design festival.
The Bianco e Nero Games Table by M-L-XL has been designed for the playing of chess and drafts in the hotel’s lobby – an almost public space on Shoreditch High Street. Inspired by the rich texture of Venetian terrazzo, the board and all its pieces are made from 100% recycled glass and porcelain.
Although the structure is intentionally ‘XL’, it can be taken apart and moved due to a simple system of connections. M–L–XL is a design practice focusing on furniture, graphics, exhibitions, typography and publishing, founded by Marco Campardo and Lorenzo Mason.
Meeting the Ace Hotel’s tiny budgets has often involved adapting existing industrial components for new purposes and Will Drye and Domonic Postlethwaite’s Pinch Hooks are a fine addition to this Ready Made Go tradition. A powder-coated 19mm tubular steel pipe is bent in the middle, its lower portion flattened and attached to a lacquered oak wood backing to turn it into a low cost and yet stylish coat hook.
Abigail Booth’s Raised Ground Wall Hanging is a one-off art piece designed to hang above the bed of one of Ace Hotel’s suites. Its natural dye was developed from clay dug from the foundations of a London townhouse, drawing directly on Abigail’s relationship with the city and reflecting her ethos of using natural, locally-sourced materials in her work. She described the piece as having “an outward connection to the landscape it originates from, as well as an inner sense of rest and peace”.
Finally, and perhaps most wonderfully of all, the design industry’s favorite bicycle brand Tokyo Bikes collaborated with Plumen on two striking window installations to celebrate the launch of the reincarnation of the Pluman 001. Designed by Samuel Wilkinson in 2010 and awarded the Design of the Year prize in 2011, the original redefined what an energy efficient lightbulb could be, launching a whole category of lightbulbs that are both beautifully designed and sustainable. Never one to stand still, Plumen have launched a new version of the original that sees improvements in its look, finish, proportions, performance, lifetime, compatibility, dimmability, efficiency, materiality and sustainability. Phew – that’s a whole lot of improvements on what was already a pretty wonderful product!