London Design Festival 2012: Tent London


Tent London is always one of my favorite shows at London Design Festival and this year might just have taken the top spot. It was fresh, bright and full of young talent. Here are a few of my favorite things…


The Detective Survival Guide Notebook by KIMU lets you people watch without anyone noticing – sort of. Based in Taiwan, KIMU believes “that design exists in close proximity with humanity” and that their products will “positively transform the world.” This one certainly made me smile.

Katie Mawson

I loved the simple design of this cheery cushion by Katie Mawson. All her products are handmade from a garden studio in the Lake District by Katie and Chris, who run the company, and knitters Kerry and Norman. Katie hand finishes every piece, felting them for extra softness. Genuinely made in England.

Urban Upholstery

London-based Urban Upholstery make and upholster furniture from “pre-loved” pieces. I love the way the guts of this one have been left on display, so you can really see how it’s made, without compromising comfort. And you can trust me on that one – I tested it myself!

Sian Elin

Tent London was Sian Elin’s first show. She left her job as a children’s book designer in 2011 and then spent  time traveling around Israel, India and the Mediterranean, giving her all the source material she needed for this fabulous collection, inspired by the built environment. I loved the combination of bold geometric prints and bright colors – a contemporary take on the current trend for all things mid-century.

Robert Grimshaw

University of Brighton graduate, Robert Grimshaw created Knit Furniture, after having joined a knitting circle and learned to knit from scratch. He used the weekly meetings to discuss and develop his ideas and eventually knitted the upholstery for his furniture pieces himself. Not bad for newbie! He is excited about finding innovative uses for traditional skills and new opportunities for craftspeople.

Rachel Powell

People finally seem to be catching on to the fact that boys like wallpaper too. I’m a big fan of Rachel Powell’s bold graphic prints, and her new “tractors pulling little robots” (my name not hers) design is no exception.

Piers Saxby Candy

Piers Saxby Candy makes or finds every element of his products himself – from the base, to the wiring, right down to the details in the fixings. He cast the lampshade above using a jelly mold and left it intentionally unfinished to reveal as much of the making process as possible. Prior to doing this full-time Piers assisted renowned English sculptor Sir Anthony Caro.

Mini Moderns

Tent favorites Mini Moderns were on fine form with their new Buddha of Suburbia range and the launch of their new environmentally friendly paint – mixed from discarded paint reclaimed from tips. One man’s trash…

Mini Moderns paint

JAILmake had my favorite stand – they simply picked up their studio (or most of it), brought it with them and carried on working. What a brilliant way to offer an insight into how you work. They said they felt a little bit like they were in a goldfish bowl to start with, but had got used to it pretty quickly – and assured me that their real studio was even more cluttered and full of stuff than this one.


Spiral-shaped energy saving light bulbs reminded Alex Garnett of Mr Whippy ice creams, so naturally, he designed the cones to go with them. They come in two sizes and two colors and even chocolate dipped and rainbow sprinkled. Yum!

Alex Garnett

First image by Sophie Mutevelian.

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.