Monday, 1 October 2012


The London Design Festival is always a thriving hive of over 250 exhibitions and events, big and small, celebrating the creative diversity and talent this country has in abundance.
This year for the first time Jessica Light went off-piste, teaming up with interior designers Precious McBane to host Gone To Earth, an instillation in an old machinists shop in Clerkenwell.
Visitors were greeted by 'The Tassily', a reinterpretation by McBanes Sophia Wimpenny and Jessica Light of the classic 'Wassily' chair by Marcel Breuer. Their take was inspired by how to showcase Light's new Potsdam collection and the furniture of Carlo Bugatti. A case of not up-cycling but luxe-cycling.

Below left, the Gone To Earth window. Below right, The Tassily.

Below, detail of The Tassily showing Jessica's horsehair trims.

The visitors journey then encountered more of the Potsdam collection in the form of  a majestic tieback holding a swathe of Olicana linen which led to a cabinet of curiosities.

The Popova Tieback

Cushions made from Chinese burnished indigo highlighting more trims from the Potsdam collection.

The cabinet display, designed by Sophia Wimpenny, was a feast of bizarre nature under bell jars or sitting regally on miniature cushions. Trims were contorted to resemble undiscovered exotic flora, fauna, and marine life. A magical tableau to represent the themes behind Jessica's 2nd new collection, Frome

All images above, examples from the cabinet.

Finally more luxe-cycling in the form of two Bertoria chairs trimmed with delicate shredded fringes from the Frome collection.

Below, the Bertoria chairs

Everyone who came to see us,
Precious McBane,
House and Garden, Elle Decoration, and HeartHome for their support,
my intern Ffion.

What's hatching for next year?
You'll have to wait and see.

Like a salmon going back to it's river to spawn I had to visit Tent London. It was strange going there as audience rather than performer but it confirmed what I've always thought about this show- that it's like the Red Arrows flying overhead- loud, exciting, and breaking the sound barrier.
If last year was about textiles, this year was about process, materials and sustainability, which determined many designers product outcome. Three good examples of these themes were Morie Nishimura's exquisite hand-cut metal mirrors- hinged circles of highly polished brass were settled on his stand walls like golden butterflies basking in the sun- Afid Design's traditionally crafted oiled oak furniture that felt cool and silky and Mini Moderns new re-cycled paint range.

Chairs by Afid Design.

How on earth do you recycle paint? I thought, conjuring up an image of it being laboriously scraped off walls, to then be boiled down in large vats in a lab similar to the one in 'Carry On Screaming' manned by Kenneth Williams and Fenella Fielding. Actually it's much more major than that as Keith from the Moderns explained. We throw out tons of unused paint every year that is just dumped into landfill and it is this which gets recycled into their new  range. A lively fresh colour palette, with names like Tangerine Dream, is coordinated with Mini Moderns other products, but all the shades stand up well on their own.

Mini Moderns new paint range.

Of course there was still the off the wall idiosyncratic element that Tent is known for like the colourful woven bamboo [more eco-friendly materials]chairs from W&Q seen below [I'll also have one of their clutch bags please]

I didn't show at Tent this year, but like a red wine stain, you just can't get rid of me and I snuck onto Curiousa and Curiousa's stand in the guise of the 2.5m depth dip-dyed fringe we wove for Esther and the tassels she used to adorn her hand-blown glass shades.
Above, 2.5m long fringe on Curiousa and Curiousa

Every year I always come away inspired and impressed from The London Design Festival, but there is usually one thing that always sticks out for me. Last year it was Front's beautiful carpets and their stands at SuperBrands and Decorex again wowed me speechless. This year though it was a print that caught my eye, Garbo's Eye in fact, by The Cecil Beaton Fabric Collection printed by Beaudesart. Taken from a drawing of Greta Garbo's eyes in Cecil Beaton's sketch book the resulting print is a surreal mass of wide eyes following your every move and reflects Beaton's obsession with Garbo [there are even suggestions that the two had a very unlikely affair]

Garbo's Eye