Them clever designers… snapshot of London Design Festival 09

Last weekend I checked out a selection of events and exhibitions on offer at the London Design Festival.

I like festivals: you are guaranteed to have a selection of visual snippets, tasty (or not so tasty) morsels. I find it rejuvenating to wander around the smaller exhibits, seeing the work of independent and up and coming designers who often have great ideas to show. And all the unexpected discoveries to be made on the way – that’s my kind of day out and about.

My colleagues from Stills went to 100% Design on Thursday, so I decided I would plan to see “all the other stuff” over the weekend. On Friday I started my trek at the Viaduct showroom in Clerkenwell. Their New Modernists exhibition struck a chord with me as I’ve always had a soft spot for simple, clean and clever design.

Lazy Bastard by Bertjan Pot

Lazy Bastard by Bertjan Pot

Now this chair is such a brilliant concept – the name and the product go hand in hand perfectly, and it needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated! It’s like a bean bag with a bit more structure, the adapting cushion making it a pleasure to sink into.

Another highlight was the Leaf chair by Lievore, Altherr and Molina. A simple adaptation of the lines of a leaf, creating both a lovely silhouette frame and a leaf-shaped cushion.

Next stop was the Idea Generation Gallery with the exhibition Airmail: Bringing lightness to everyday objects. The designers were given a brief to examine the notion of lightness and material. What happens if an object is stripped to its bare minimum? Inca Starzinsky’s Lightness/Value bag strips a handbag to reduce weight, making it lighter to carry. The resulting aesthetic looks as if the bag was turned inside out but retaining a sense of high fashion as Inca plays with the Louis Vuitton logo and pattern.

OKAY Studios signage... a personal touch.

OKAY Studios signage... a personal touch.

Leaving the East London design area I stumbled upon an open doors exhibition at OKAY Studios, who had come up with a lovely way of labelling the exhibitors and their work. These hand carved wooden labels were laid out on the floor, rested against a wall – an adaptable device giving freedom and variety to the exhibition space.

In the evening I headed down to the Design Museum, where I was joined by the wonderful Emily Wilkinson to check out their two main exhibitions, Super Contemporary and Mariscal: Drawing Life. They had also put on one of the Design Overtime events, this time coinciding with the museum’s 20th birthday. Happy Birthday, Design Museum! The occasion called for cakes (of course!) – and not just any cakes, but mouth-watering creations from creative people in London. Maybe not the prettiest, but my favourite was the Tube Map cake, such a clean design lovingly hand-rendered for edible consumption.

Super Contemporary had a lot to look at – the design time line on its own captivated me with nostalgic moments from “Aw look, it’s the wooden Channel 4 logo” to “Ooh, Neville Brody’s Face and i-D covers“. One of the highlights was Paul Smith’s ingenious Bunny Bin:

Bunny Bin by Paul Smith - Flickr Gallery

Bunny Bin by Paul Smith - Flickr Gallery

I want to see these take over the streets of Britain! The best part is when you put your rubbish into the bin, the bunny’s ears light up. Joy! This is how attitudes can be changed – witty intervention and positive interaction.

Upon leaving the museum we saw people fussing about the main stairwell and wondered what on earth is going on. They were making statements – continuing sentences on ready made posters and hanging them up for everyone else to see. I love seeing audience participation as the results are always fascinating. Also, these days people deserve some venting out to release the urban stress and rush of a working week.

“I want my energy back! (please!)”

I want... / Nothing works because...

I want... / Nothing works because...

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3 responses to “Them clever designers… snapshot of London Design Festival 09

  1. Esko Reinikainen

    Great blog post! Now, where can I find a lazy bastard? šŸ˜‰

  2. emilywilkinson

    I just want to curl up in that chair and go to sleep!

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