“100% Design” trade fair in Earl Court was refreshed, by Studio Design UK’s 66-meter-long spectral light tunnel and works by new talents like the “Worldscape”, fabricated by Atmos Studio and DHH Timber. Photos © Antje Southern
Digitally pimped
by Antje Southern
Oct 6, 2013

It is a great relief that the new organizers have revamped the layout of the “100% Design” trade fair in Earl Court to create an almost enjoyable experience with the help of show designers Thomas Matthews. Studio Design UK constructed a 66-meter-long spectral light tunnel that leads straight to the circular central bar, which is crowned by a spiraling crystal ribbon light by Czech company Preciosa.

This year’s “Creative balance” concept is an inspired attempt to create a symbiotic relationship between emerging brands and established businesses. Evidence of its success can be found in the International Pavilion, a new feature introduced to the design fair. Intended to promote emerging design talent, the International Pavilion encourages creative partnerships, such as the project for which Atmos Studio and DHH Timber teamed up to digitally fabricate the “Worldscape” a vast sculptural dining landscape of the world’s different geographic regions.

Chockablock in Kensington

The pavilion’s key sponsor, Turkishceramics, collaborated with RIBA architect Ferhan Azman in building the fair’s VIP bar, aptly named “Chockablock”. Located at the back of the exhibition space, the bar runs the entire width of the building. The tricky challenge of a long but very thin footprint has been convincingly mastered and an inviting social environment formed by the strategic positioning several seven-meter-high triangular columns – a resourceful architectural intervention to distinguish a private yet accessible space as well as to showcase a diverse range of boldly colored and textured architectural ceramics supplied by different Turkish manufacturers.

Throughout the fair the organizers have placed so called “Features” which relieve the ennui otherwise associated with the rigidity of the grid system intrinsic to trade fairs. These include Dornbracht’s “Sensory Sky” digitally controlled shower and Zaha Hadid Architect’s collaboration with Samsung to create a futuristic vision of tomorrow’s retail.

A visit to the busy 3D Home factory also helps to avoid fair fatigue. iMakr, the world’s largest printing store in Clerkenwell, has furnished its stand with an impressive range of 3D printers and 3D printed products including Ron Arad’s sunglasses. For a mere £99 you can purchase a 3D printed full-length portrait of yourself using the latest 360-degree scanning technology, all great fun to introduce the uninitiated to the potential of 3D printing.

Designjunction at the Post Office

“Designjunction” appeals through its endearing eclecticism and relaxed atmosphere. Everyone and everything comfortably coexists. Contemporary designers mingle with vintage furniture dealers. The busy mood that suffuses the run-down industrial spaces of the 1960s Holborn Postal Sorting office combines global brands, independent designers and pop-up shops.
No wonder that Paul Cocksedge chose this venue to set up a large screen of old speakers as the backdrop for the official launch of his crowd-funded “Vamp”, a small gadget that up-cycles old speakers. The tiny amplifier comes with cables and when plugged in to any old speaker it streams music from Bluetooth-enabled devices.

The presence of ‘boutique’ designers who themselves control their funding, manufacture and retail is increasing. London-based woven textiles design studio Wallace & Sewell present their first upholstery fabric range. Its scaled-up linear pattern and bold color combination, formed by the structure of the cloth, transforms the tubular William Plunkett four-roll Daybed.
The public is clearly willing to engage with the concepts and processes that drive design as is manifest by the crowds in the “Money” installation, curated by the inventive brand design company Hyundai Card. To find out more about the project visitors are given a metal credit card, which when against one of the stele prompts a printout that describes different facets of the company’s design practices. Additionally, live demonstrations of diverse industrial processes and 3D printing sessions in the so called “Flash Factories” capture the emerging prominence of digital craft generated by computer software.

Domestic science on the Southbank

Across the Thames suitably housed in the Brutalist concrete of the Southbank Centre, the organizers of the ever-evolving “Designersblock” have launched the “Fifth Element”. This is a new, separate platform to showcase designers whose work is inspired by scientific investigation, cutting-edge digital technology, new materials and processes as well as the current cultural narrative.

For her project “The Milk of Human Kindness” Masami Charlotte Lavault has been experimenting with biodegradable molded casein objects. She proposes turning the 15 billion liters of milk that are wasted each year by European households into witty products such as a casein plastic milking stool.
Alex Duffner’s “Domestic Science Machines” demonstrates how easily kitchen appliances can be modified into scientific instruments. For example, a centrifuge to separate liquids is made from an adapted salad spinner. A spectrometer to analyze materials is made from a coffee machine and a temperature-controlled slow cooker can be used as a PCR cycler for growing DNA.

Crafted creativity in Spitalfields

At our final stop, at the Old Truman brewery in London’s East End, one noticeable undercurrent was crafted creativity and an expert handling of materials. Among the exhibitors at “Superbrands” on the ground floor Hungarian concrete manufacturer Ivanka, stood out for its lightweight, embossed and colored concrete plaster tiles that persuasively demonstrate their experience with mixing recipes.

Expertise in architectural materials is also evident at the thought-provoking display “In the scale of Carbon” by the Materials Council, an independent advisory body for architects. Abstract knowledge is made tangible through an installation of different sized cubes representing the quantity of various architectural materials, which can be produced per 1,000 kg of CO2 emissions.

A selection of young promising international designers has been invited to exhibit in the “Super Design Gallery” section of “Tent London”. Their work connects through their engagement with the textures of the materials used, examples being the staple-studded leather chair “Nailed Succession” by Stockholm based design studio Färg & Blanche and the soft nylon covered textile storage furniture by Meike Harde.
Another eyecatcher among these process-focused design approaches, Jess Shaw’s hanging light made of a common hedge plant known as “Old Man’s Beard”. More inspiring cases of crafted creative approaches are to be found in the Tent London section on the first floor. The cross-cultural London project has collaborated with the Korea Design Membership and invited talented young designers from across the Republic of Korea. Beautifully conceived designs include a Desktop Bag that folds out into a personal working space whenever needed.

On the brink of what?

Katie Tregidden (editor of “Confessions of a Design Geek”) curated “Brink”, a new stand at Tent London that showcases the best graduate design talent throughout the UK. Amongst them Bilge Sur Saltik’s ceramic dishes with slanted bases that allow them to tilt and are ideal for sharing, could not have been made without the long-standing know-how of Turkish craftsmen.

Tobias Gutmann’s “Face-o-mat” imitates a photo booth and ironically reflects upon the processes underlying our digital age. For five pounds you get a portrait crudely drawn by the designer himself while sitting at the back of the booth in the three minutes it would take to develop a photo in a conventional booth.
One could think that this is just a graduate’s mocking comment on digital processing were it not for the presence of “the Impossible Project”. This Viennese company bought up the last remaining Polaroid factory six years ago and at Tent London launched “Instant Lab”, a camera that turns digital iPhone photographs into analog ones.

Parallels with Paul Cocksedge’s “Vamp” come to mind: Both projects were made possible by crowd funding via and both have managed to updateold-fashioned technologies with the help of sophisticated digital know-how. Are we on the brink of a new generation of digital up-cycling?


28.280 coloured glass balls: Our recce of the London Design Festival starts at the Victoria & Albert-Museum, the self-proclaimed deisgn hub of the LDF
(1 October 2013)

Onwards and upwards: An “Endless Stair” was erected outside the Tate Modern, a walk-on, walk-off stair sculpture à la M.C. Escher.
(02 October 2013)

„Chockablock”-bar by Turkishceramics and architect Ferhan Azman. Photo © Antje Southern
Featured: “Sensory Sky” by Dornbracht at “100% Design“. Photo © Dornbracht
3D printed full-length portrait for £99, available at iMakr. Photo © Antje Southern
First printed, then plated with gold. Photo © 100% Design
Showdown of Paul Cocksedges’ “Vamp“, a tiny amplifier that brings old boxes to sound. Photo © Designjunction
The friendly dogs are part of “The Gerald Exhibition“ by Lazerian. Photo © Graham Turner for Designersblock
“The Milk of Human Kindness”: casein plastic milking stool. Photo © Antje Southern
Alex Duffner’s centrifuge to separate liquids is made from an adapted salad spinner. Photo © Antje Southern
Keira Rathbone Typewriter Artist, at “Designersblock“. Photo © Graham Turner for Designersblock
„Porcelaine Feathers“ by Rachel Harrison, at “Designersblock“. Photo © Graham Turner for Designersblock
„Journeywoman Boat“ by Xenia Moseley, at “Designersblock“. Photo © Graham Turner for Designersblock
Ivanka from Hungary presents tiles made of coloured concrete. Photo © Antje Southern
“Old Man’s Beard” by Jess Shaw. Photo © Antje Southern
“100% Design” trade fair in Earl Court was refreshed, by Studio Design UK’s 66-meter-long spectral light tunnel and works by new talents like the “Worldscape”, fabricated by Atmos Studio and DHH Timber. Photos © Antje Southern5