London's Design Festival climaxes this weekend with the openings of the really big design shows. Designjunction in an old post office sorting station, 100% Design in a 1937 exhibition hall, Tent London in the hip east end and Designersblock down by the River Thames. So many places, so much to see.
Designjunction is three stories and more than one hundred companies showing furniture, objects, lighting and house stuff. So what did we like?
Lots of wood: chairs, tables, bowls. Maybe because it is cheap, in these times of austerity Britain. This beautiful rocker is made out of English timber sourced from fallen trees on Dorset estates. It is steam bent ash, made by Sitting Firm Chairmakers who also do modern Windsor chairs in bright colours.
John Galvin. a Scottish furniture artist, made this beautiful side table out of 200 year old Brazilian mahogany. All of his wood was found in an old barn owned by a retired cabinet maker. As he uncovered the soot and dust, he found wonderful old pieces of wood to work with.
2. Unique Uses of Wood
This organic Branch is made of hand turned oak and is a coat or hat rack. The idea is that it makes use of previously unused wall space, and is a sculptural alternative to the conventional set of hooks.
These beautiful bowls are from Chile, made from single pieces of wood. The outside is hand done with traditional carving techniques.
There were several nice cork stools. This new design, Boet, by a Swedish company, is inspired by the birds nest (boet in Swedish) high up in the trees. The seat is cork, the frame is steel.
4. And Now for Something New and Different
These lights are made from wicker, in partnership with the artisans in the Chimbarongo region of Chile.
After all the hard-edged, hard-core design, these Spanish cushions, chairs and carpets are so warm and beautiful. Made out of wool felt and embroidered by hand with the traditional cross-stitch that we all learned at school. They are made in Spain and can be filled with cotton or foam.
This "ropero", which is spanish for wardrobe is a modular freestanding structure that can be re-arranged in different ways, according to need and space. Made in Mexico, it is painted with water-based paint, uses recycled glass in the cupboards and LED lighting.
This would be great for a child's room: made out of recycled tire, the Tyre Furniture Collection is designed by an award-winning student designer. She uses discarded bus, car and truck tires and covers them with new fabric. The chair is a perch that you can sit on or lean against while lying on the floor.
5. Bicycle Bags
These bicycle bags are made from the fleece that is discarded when sheep are sheared. Cherchbi makes bags and belts and bicycle knapsacks that are traditional yet modern looking. They use their own Herdwyck No.10 wool tweed and vegetable-tanned saddle leather for these good looking, long lasting goods.
6. Artek Recycles
Artek, the Finnish furniture firm which makes Alvar Aalto furniture, has started a 2nd Cycle project. They have collected their old products from schools and flea markets and are re-selling them. That's what we would call second hand... They have furnished this cafe with the furniture to show how nicely it all goes together. You can also buy some lovely bashed up stools on line.
7. Thomas Heatherwick
No design show would be complete without something by current superstar Thomas Heatherwick (Olympic cauldron, new double decker bus). Working on that bus theme, this New Bus bench seating is made as single or double seating, upholstered in a modern take on the familiar London Underground fabric.