8 Inspiring Ideas from 2022’s London Design Festival
With sensory surfaces and a focus on wellbeing and sustainability, there was a positive vibe at this year’s event
Merging of work and home
While we’re not all working from home full time anymore, there’s no sign that people will return to offices five days a week.
Designers are responding to this hybrid working set-up with furniture that could help your home adapt to its new role. Arper’s Project of Living exhibit at the Clerkenwell Design Trail showcased pieces such as the Aeeri table by Peter Kunz. The slender, lightweight design can easily be moved around the space, functioning as both a dining surface and a workspace where needed.
Also at Clerkenwell was Pearson Lloyd’s Edge Free range of flexible seating systems (pictured), which incorporate screens, laptop tables, low tables, ottomans and integrated power. And to zone off your workspace, Ligne Roset’s Westend store hosted Philippe Nigro’s Marechiaro screen-cabinet, with a bookcase on one side and beautiful undulating slats on the other.
The growing recognition that our perception of objects within the built environment affects how we feel was the subject of a panel discussion, How Do Materials Shape Positive Experiences? at Solus Ceramics in Clerkenwell. The conversation focused on the sensory impact of materials and their effect on our wellbeing.
A focus on touch was apparent in new product launches, too, with many surfaces taking on a tactile quality. Studio Sahil’s Coastal Myths exhibition in the Shoreditch Design Triangle, for example, featured sand-infused glassware such as the Arenophile tiles (pictured).
At architectural practice GRAS’s The Gathering Hand furniture and objects display at The Blue Mountain School, meanwhile, there were a number of interesting textures on display. Namon Gaston’s Carpenter’s tables, for instance, had cork-tiled tops by Studio Corkinho, which were heat-treated to enhance their tactility, while Albion Stone’s Portland stone items were bead blasted to reveal the variations on their surfaces.
Most of us are now familiar with the concept of biophilia in our homes, but the term ‘biomimicry’ is perhaps less well known. The idea behind the process is to encourage designs that emulate the ingenuity of models, systems and elements found in the natural world. In turn, this will hopefully encourage a better understanding of nature and a focus on sustainability.
As part of the Nature’s Architects exhibition at this year’s London Design Festival, architects were encouraged to embrace biomimicry in installations dotted around Chelsea. NOOMA Studio’s Coral Heights, for example, was a tower block designed to mimic the oscillating movement of coral, while Studio Aki’s Veil House was inspired by veiled lady mushrooms.
At the Material Matters exhibit in Bankside, HagenHinderdael showcased its new Cocoon light (pictured). The 3D-printed light is fully degradable and was designed to resemble an organic shell-like structure similar to its name.
Lighting at this year’s London Design Festival took on an ethereal quality, with beautiful pendants that dangle delicately from the ceiling. Haberdashery, for instance, showcased the new additions to its Sand & Sea range, while Lee Broom exhibited his Divine Inspiration collection (pictured).
With a focus on how lighting affects our consciousness, From The Sky launched its new collection. The range features dimmable LED sources, as well as surfaces that have been treated to allow light to reflect or shine through in order to replicate natural environments such as forest clearings. The idea is that this type of nature-inspired light makes us feel calm and soothed.
Making things last
The quest to reduce wastage in home renovation is encouraging designers to find new ways to add longevity. At the 2022 show, the V&A responded to this with its own version of TV’s The Repair Shop. Its R for Repair installation asked the public to submit broken items, which designers from the UK and Singapore then ingeniously repaired and brought back to life.
A slightly different solution for reducing waste and adding longevity could be seen in the seat covers designed for Cozmo’s modular sofa (pictured). The ‘jackets’ allow customers to update their interiors with different colour and pattern combinations without replacing the whole sofa.
Mining our cities
The circular economy is going from strength to strength in the design world, and within this is a concept known as ‘urban mining’. The idea came about from the realisation that all the raw materials we need can be found by recycling the items around us in our towns and cities.
A clever installation, The Future of Urban Mining by Pareid Architecture’s Deborah Lopez and Hadin Charbel, took the concept to a new level by using a salon’s hair waste to create something that bridges the gap between sculpture and architecture. The exhibit asks people to consider what we can do with this waste material and whether we can integrate it into the built environment.
Elsewhere, Blast Studio showcased 3D-printed furniture, lamps (pictured) and ornaments made from takeaway coffee cups and cardboard packaging found in London. The team mixes these waste products with mycelium, which feeds off them and turns them into sustainable biomaterials with smooth, velvety surfaces.
A focus on glassware
2022 is the UN’s International Year of Glass, which aims to ‘celebrate the essential role glass has in society’. To coincide with this, the Charles Burnand Gallery curated a collection of objects with a strong focus on glass, ranging from glassblowers to furniture designers (pictured).
Similarly, the John Madejski Garden at the V&A was transformed into an immersive glassblowing performance, while European design studio Sé presented a behind-the-scenes video showing the creation of Ini Archibong’s Gaea Pendants made from Venetian glass.
Embracing global craftsmanship
From the cross-cultural collaboration between the UK and Singapore in the V&A’s R for Repair exhibition, to a showcase of ceramicists from the Japanese town of Kasama, the country’s traditional home of pottery, there was a celebration of international crafts at this year’s event.
David Horan’s Paper furniture collection (pictured), for instance, features layers of handmade paper and was influenced by decoupage and the Japanese Mingei movement. Elsewhere, the Celestial Nest immersive installation by Indian design studio The Architecture Story showcased an ancient mirror-making process.
Which ideas from this year’s London Design Festival have inspired you? Share your thoughts in the Comments.