Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I've been home from the massive London Design Festival for one week and now that the experience has been fully absorbed I am capable of downloading my brain.
For me,  interior, object and product design have always been roughly divided into two camps.  In one camp there are designers who are concerned with cutting-edge technology, modern man-made materials and designs that promote showmanship, with the result often referred to as 'the statement piece'.  These loud and 'funky' pieces are very on trend for one season or two if you are lucky.  In the other camp are those designers who are concerned with preserving cultural heritage and traditional skills.  Their design process is directed by the raw materials available on hand rather than highly processed materials being sourced from far and wide and forced into shape to serve a complicated design.   When it is successful, this way of working encourages design that is thoughtful, simple, functional and respectful, and the resulting objects are timeless.
Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of innovation and technology, but for me the magic in design occurs when innovation intersects with traditional technique, and when design grounded in materiality and integrity is made possible through the use of technology.

                                                            Cup and Saucer from the Stall by The Cold Press

                                       Desk by Benjamin Boyce

 With this in my mind, it was with great delight that I discovered a festival with a renewed emphasis on craftsmanship, functional solutions, longevity and highly considered yet subtle design.  The British love their crafts and respect their heritage so this was no surprise coming from their extremely strong stable of designers, but these concerns were also evident in the work I saw coming out of South America, Taiwan, Scandinavia, France and the USA.  Our world is chaotic so simple design and natural materials offer us a modicum of peace.  Furthermore, our environment is suffering so those of us involved in the design and consumer industries have a responsibility to embrace sustainable solutions.

                                                         Mushroom Vessels by JIB Studio

Here is a selection of some of the design that got under my skin, there will be more following in the weeks to come.

RACE - England

Established in post war Britain by Ernest Race, the furniture design and manufacture company Race specialises in time honoured methods of production and traditional quality English manufacturing.  Today they are reproducing the finest furniture from Ernest Race's original designs and tweaking them to take advantage of modern technology and to fulfill our current commercial and domestic requirements.  By using the original drawings the company retains the integrity of construction and material first developed out of a post war need.

                                                                   Race Rocker 1948

RUSKASA - Taiwan

Ruskasa are concerned with preserving disappearing Taiwanese carving skills and traditional handcrafts, and each of their pieces are made by hand in Taiwan using sustainably grown and harvested timber, demonstrating a meticulous attention to detail.

                                                  Ruskasa RU-DS009 Chair

                                               Ruskasa RU-DS011 Chair

BRAVO - Chile

Those in the design and manufacturing company Bravo understand how precious raw materials are and they pride themselves on a respectful production of these materials into elegant solutions for day to day activities. Their use of locally sourced raw materials embue their products with a natural beauty and a sense of the specific identity of place - Santiago, Chile.

                                                Base Container by Bravo

                                          Base Container by Bravo

THORODY - England

Throrody is a design and print studio based in London that produces small runs of fabric for interior projects. The fabrics are traditionally screen printed by hand using water-based pigments on linen that has been woven in Burnley, England. Their hand drawn designs "reflect their love of modernism infused with a hint of South East London, but steer away from retro pastiche".

                                                         Thorody Fabric


Turner and Harper embrace their fascination with quiet, everyday objects by creating goods that are authentic and useful. While based in North Yorkshire their bespoke design process employs artisans from all over England, producing accessories for the home that embody quality and subtlety in equal measure.

                                      Dustpan and Brush by Turner and Harper


Another Country is a London based design and manufacture company making waves in the UK and beyond with their contemporary craft furniture and accessories. Their methods are based on design archetypes influenced by traditional British country, Shaker, Scandinavian and Japanese woodwork. Their pieces are familiar and unpretentious while also being exciting and fresh. Their designs are built with longevity, sustainability and quality at a fair price as defining aims. The brand is characterised by what I would call contemporary campfire chic. All timber is sourced from responsible suppliers in the UK and their upholstery is made from organic materials.
                                                              Another Chair by Another Country

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