Art / Design / Photography / STUDIO e*

Design Central

5 reasons why I love London.

1. Black Cabs.  Nowhere else in the world, will you find a taxi driver who knows 3 different ways to get to your destination plus actually drive there like a mensch.

2. Hampstead. My favourite suburb.  Once home to Byron, Coleridge, Agatha Christie, Dickens, Keats to name a few.  At its heart is Hampstead Heath, London’s greenest and wildest public space.  I’ve walked every lane, avenue and street in Hampstead and when I was back in London last year, I still found new things to admire and appreciate.

3. Food, flower and vintage markets to rival Paris and Barcelona.

4.  Architecture of note. Old, quaint, well-preserved and delightful.

5. THE LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL.  Come September, and designers and design lovers from all around the world descend on the city to share their work and ideas.  Most of the work is exhibited in galleries and retail stores across the city but this (last) year you could also join curated (Tokyo) bike tours with the likes of Max Fraser & Johanna Agerman. It’s a rich, intense and inspiring few days and I was thrilled to be able to cover some of the events for 2 design publications, Artichoke (Australia) and Urbis (New Zealand). The following are excerpts from my features, followed by the 2 published articles and my images of the event.


{Excerpt from Artichoke coverage}

The months leading up to the London Design Festival send design lovers into planning meltdown as the intoxicating roster of events and exhibitions are revealed.  While the major exhibitions tend to garner the most attention, there are also a host of smaller galleries, designers and retail locations which use the opportunity to showcase their own work. This year was no exception. In addition there were some exciting public events. The master of minimalism, John Pawson, in collaboration with Swarovski, thrilled with his installation “Perspectives” at St Paul’s Cathedral.  The architect created a series of optical devices to create a unique view up through the rarely seen tower.  In equally dramatic fashion Aamu Song filled an entire room at York Hall with the red fabric of a gargantuan dress, occupied by a storyteller. Audience members were then invited to occupy its huge pockets and enjoy a variety of intimate performances.  Closer to home, Matilda presented thirty Australian designers at Designjunction, one of the events key destinations. In addition to the impressive showcase of talent, there was a pop up café sponsored by the Australian manufacturing company How We Create. 

In addition, here are a few highlights from some of the main events:


The iconic museum retained its position as festival headquarters, its entrance perfectly framed by a majestic Red Oak sculpture designed by Amanda Levete and Arup.  The Bourellec Brothers occupied the prestigious Raphael Room with a 30m long, inclined “textile field”, encouragingvisitors to lounge in the space.  The key exhibition, was aptly titled “The Power of Making”, a collaboration with the Craft Council featuring a range of imaginative objects which represent the varied methods and tools used to make things. 3D technology featured strongly and was highlighted  by Dr Adrian Bowyer’s Rep Rap machine, a groundbreaking, free, desktop printer capable of printing 3-d plastic objects and Mike Sheldrake’s surfboards, made from sustainable timber grid structures.


Portobello Dock, a regenerated complex of canal-side  wharves, hosted a number of design events.  Moooi staged Mermaids, a collaboration between Marcel Wanders and Creatmosphere which incorporated furniture from their collection against a backdrop of underwater photographs, moody lighting and oceanic sounds.  Print Club London, who represent a number of print artists including Australian Jeremy Ville·and We Buy Your Kids exhibited new graphic prints and The Tom Dixon shop showcased new lighting  as well as “Scrapwood” as a recycled table, chair combo by Dutch designers Piet Hein Eek.


In its second year, the Tramshed played host to a number of established and emerging designers in Shoreditch. The primary exhibitor, De la Espada showcased new work from their notable brands, including Matthew Hilton , Studioilse,  Soren Rose Studio, Leif.designpark and Benjamin Humbert, the latter presenting “Pod”,  a privacy chair made from an innovative fabric called PET, which has enhanced acoustic properties.  Australian cosmetic company Aesop also featured, building on its already strong UK presence. 


For the freshest talent, Tent London at Truman Brewery never disappoints.  In her first exhibit, Tamasine Osher presented a range of offbeat ensembles including the  limited edition Pipe Loop table.  Latorre Cruz’s impressed the crowds with his  delicate Icarus lights made from crushed mulberry bark fibres while Jan Plechac dominated part of the entrance foyer with his award winning seamless wire chairs which mimic design classics.  The Rag and Bone man debuted with his collection of industrial lights made from “junk” collected around the East End of London.  In contrast architect Michael Chan impressed visitors with his spacey, padded leather chair collection shipped in from Hong Kong.  


{Excerpt from Urbis coverage}

The London Design Festival, now in its ninth year, played host to over a hundred events over nine design-drenched days. Isolating standout contributions would be a near impossible task, given the breadth and quality of the event.  Elana Castle presents five themes that featured in the larger shows, highlighting some of the extraordinary design on show. 

1. Make it Yourself

Ikea style pieces that transfer the act of making into the hands of the consumer.  De Vorm showed that assemble-it doesn’t need to be basic nor clunky. Their well crafted Clamp-a-Leg, a wooden leg threaded into a metal clamp, helps you transform a flat surface into a functional work space in no time.  Pierre Ospina’s Cricket Stools represented a quirky take on a similar idea.

2. Recycled Industrial

Products created from industrial materials featured strongly this year.  Edward Hodgson’s ARC Range of light fittings are made from thin, re-purposed copper plumbing elements.  Paired with slim cold cathode lighting, the result are elegant, sculptural objects.  Equally as standout – were Jung Myung Taek’s lights aptly titles Expect the Unexpected and Blink London.

3. Cocooning

High backed “cocoon” style furniture featured again this year, with added refinement.  In particular, Benjamin Hubert’s Pod, a privacy chair which features PET felt technology which offers an added extra – increased acoustic properties. 

4. Primary Colours

Standing out against a sea of neutrals, were colourful pieces by a handful of bold designers.   Thor, Loki, Enki and and Hapi, four chairs by Life Given a Shape, the Versailles Collection from My Face and Sinatra and Stanley by Delightfull, all oozed personality.

Featured Designers & Curators:


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