LDF23: 2LG Studio + British Craft Shine at the 2023 London Design Fair

10.12.23 | By
LDF23: 2LG Studio + British Craft Shine at the 2023 London Design Fair

“London’s favorite design fair is back” reads the London Design Fair’s website – and it is and it isn’t. The show, formerly known as Tent, is under new ownership, much smaller than in its pre-COVID heyday, and less tightly curated, but nonetheless it did contain some absolute gems. One of the highlights, not just of the London Design Fair but of the whole festival, was ‘You CAN Sit With Us’ curated by 2LG Studio, a London-based interior design and styling consultancy, founded by creative duo, Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead (below left).

Two white men and two white women all in their 30s/40s stand in front of a colorful array of furniture and wall hangings included a blanket that reads "You Can Sit With Us."

Photo: Megan Taylor

US Congress member Shirley Chisholm is credited with coining the oft-quoted expression, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” But with Russell and Jordan about, you won’t be needing one. You CAN Sit With Us (emphasis on “can” and referencing the 2004 movie Mean Girls) is a curation that responds to prejudice they have felt and still feel from the industry. They placed a long dining table at the heart of an installation designed to explore inclusivity and asked emerging designers to each design one chair, giving them a platform so they wouldn’t experience the same barriers.

A wall, a curtain and a bench all feature a white background and green squiggly pattern.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

The project also included a collaboration with Granite + Smoke (pictured above with Jordan and Russell) whose colorful blankets featured the words from the exhibition title and with Custhom (immediately above). Other designers featured in the space include Ercol, Helen Kirkum, Wilkinson & Rivera, Sam Klemick, and Amechi Mandi.

A white man in his 40s stands leaning on a wooden drinks cabinet. The branch of a tree is behind him and to his left a lower wooden side cabinet.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

The other part of the fair that really shone was the British Craft Pavilion and the first stand through the door belonged to furniture maker Nick James. Nick describes himself as “a highly skilled craftsman and tree lover.” He’s an advocate of traditional woodworking techniques, uses British-grown wood, making everything by hand in his Newcastle-upon-Tyne workshop, and feeds his creativity by spending every Wednesday in his local woodland.

A woven blue wall hanging with areas of white, darker blue, green and purple.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Pamela Print spent 14 years in the fashion textiles industry and now relishes the slow pace of natural dying and hand weaving. Her Kantha III artwork (above) is hand-dyed using indigo and logwood plant dyes. As well as artworks, she also makes scarves, cushions, throws, and weaving kits.

A curvilinear wooden wall-hung bookshelf with four shelves, two plants, a sign and a book.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Will James runs Knot Design from a small studio and workshop in central London, making to order and celebrating the natural imperfections of wood. Like many of his products, the Dickens Wall Shelf (above) can be completely customized by size, timber, and number of shelves, so it’s just as perfect for a tiny nook as it is to provide “a sprawling display for your cherished collectibles.”

Three brightly colored geometric cushions sit on top of cardboard tubes.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Woven Memories cushions’ unique designs are created with an online tool that can turn any typed message into binary code and therefore a visual pattern. They are made from locally sourced and deadstock yarn to ensure their sustainability message is as embodied as the message coded into their designs.

Cream, black and white pottery bowls are decorated with grey and brown lines and marks that almost make them look like paper.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Barbara Gittings is a Brighton-based ceramicist, specializing in Nerikomi techniques. Inspired by a former career in textiles, these involve adding oxides or stains to the clay to color it and then joining, slicing, and rejoining layers of colors to build up patterns through the clay, which she then slab-builds, biscuit-fires, and sands down before a final smoke firing and polish. The result evokes the multi-layered effects of nature, such as the laying down of strata, weathering, and erosion.

A series of square lamps, vessels and wall hangings in shades of white and cream – some feature circular perforations.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Pointing out negative spaces in the doorway opposite her stand that she is already convinced will inspire future work, Jane Cairns explains that her work (above) “is about finding beauty in the ordinary; about recognizing the accidental poetry in the unnoticed and overlooked,” she says. “Living in the city, this is often found in apparently insignificant visual details of the built environment – the space on a wall where something has been removed, a juxtaposition of materials, the sculptural qualities of found forms.”

A series of square vessels with tubular necks hold light bulbs. Each is patterned with geometric forms on the front side only.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Each lamp by Margate-based Lux Pottery is a slab-built stoneware artwork in its own right, brought to life with a vintage-style lightbulb. She also makes wall hangings inspired by her surroundings in referencing mid-century design motifs.

A trade-show stand featuring multiple lights and material samples.

Photo: Courtesy of Spark & Bell

Outside of the British Craft Pavilion, a couple of stands really stood out, one of which was Brighton-based Spark & Bell – a sustainable lighting company that is even creating its own sheet materials from recycled plastic.

A length of woven white fabric is hung at various points to create a looping display on a navy background.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Another sustainable exhibitor of note was Studio Lia Karras, all the way from Winnipeg, Canada. Lia specializes in custom handwoven textile art for architectural spaces made with reclaimed and reimagined materials – often taken from the very buildings the resulting pieces are commissioned for.

A bright orange cord is woven into an off-white yarn to create a striking wall hanging / fabric patch on a grey background.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

“I believe that abundance could look different,” she says. “I believe in living and working gently and leading a lifestyle and practice where beauty, quality, and sustainability are in balance. In all of my work, I strive to contribute without taking; to make the best possible use of the resources available to me by thoughtfully re-imagining the materials at hand. I strive to create something beautiful, functional, subtle, and tactile.”

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.