We’ve had a whirlwind week at 2022’s instalment of the London Design Festival. With toes dipped into a myriad of activities, including an installation at brand new feature for this year, Material Matters; a guest spot for our project manager Emily Skinner on the panel of the Life In Plastic Talk; a sell-out custom materials workshop at EDGE showroom; and exhibiting our ACAD x Smile Plastics seating at the V&A – it’s been a busy week to say the least.
We still made time to do some trend spotting though, visiting venues across the city to discover the latest innovations in commercial product design. Here we share our highlights, from bold blasts of colour to comforting curves and combining fun with functionality.
We’d also like to thank everyone that visited us at the show – it was fantastic to see so many of you leave with a smile!
Playful panels & slotting
Embodying this trend was our very own Geometric Jungle installation at Oxo Tower, featuring a colourful / cool combination of curved panels in our Ocean and brand-new Heron materials. A stacked geometric totem of Kaleido, Cosmos and a custom mix complemented the playful panels elsewhere.
Over in St Giles Square, Landmark Project Swivel saw Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis juxtapose natural materials with the concrete and glass of the surrounding Brutalist architecture. Slotting together travertines, quartzites and marble, the chairs can be rotated, allowing visitors to interact in groups or sit solitary and soak in their surroundings.
For their eye-catching objects, Mixed Metals chose to combine contrasting materials with matt and shiny finishes in on-trend tones, inviting intrigue from passers-by.
Ahead of the curve
As well as featuring as part of our Geometric Jungle installation, calming curves could be seen far and wide throughout the show – particularly paired with soft fabrics and neutral material finishes for extra comfort.
We particularly liked SOLIDWOOL’s curved chairs; DWELL’s seating selection, which has been designed to make users feel cocooned and protected; Living Object’s curvaceous, flower-like ceramic and stone bowls; modet’s simple wooden chair with bright orange base; Fritz Hansen’s laminated timber basket; a swivelling circular side table by Wewood; StudioSegers’ Twist collection; and Prostoria’s Sabot playful arrangement of “abstract timber volumes”.
All things bright and beautiful
A combination of colour and illumination reflected the optimistic energy in the air, with the attitude of designers seemingly being the bolder, the better.
From Stuart Haygarth’s chandelier created from “commonplace or discarded objects, employing the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life – from man-made debris washed up on the seashore to thousands of salvaged prescription spectacles”, to Chaos & Order porcelain lights, and the mellow, yellow glasswork of Tom Robinson, to Granule by Punta Conterie, and the iridescent colour play of Alphabet of Light by Bjarke Ingels Group - a common theme existed across the popular colour palette of oranges, reds, and bursts of blue. Plus, the desire in many cases to transform waste into wonder. Something we are fully supportive of.
Stepping outside of the box, and certainly making a bold impact, was ES Devlin’s stunning Come Home Again choral, illuminated sculpture, highlighting 243 species on London’s priority list, from moths to birds and beetles. Situated outside the Tate Modern, the large-scale public artwork is a true sight to behold, with an extremely important message behind it.
Perhaps the exhibit that most showcased the trend for colour/illuminated combinations was Into Sight by Sony Design. Described as “a life-sized media platform installation where Sony Design plays on sensorial effects that transform simple boundary surfaces into an infinite vista through shifting light, colour and sound”, this installation, held at the Pavilion Gallery, was a thoroughly contemporary spectacle that offered a dream-like escape from the hustle and bustle of the city beyond.
With Autumn officially in the air, it felt appropriate that red and orange tones took centre stage. Taking the lead from nature’s forms and finishes, designers including Zena Holloway and Studio Arp beautifully showcased how abundant material from our local environments can be used in the creation of commercial interior products.
Ushering in another colour trend spotted at the show was Studio Jinsik Kim, with a statement light fitting in orange and mint green. Ice cream shades in soft pastels were also sighted at Design London’s set stand, while Bjarke Ingels opted for hues of Pistachio and Clementine.
Putting the fun in functional
It will come as no surprise – and a relief – to read that sustainability was top of the agenda for exhibitors at this year’s London Design Festival. Whether overtly guiding product design and material choices, or inspiring a creative concept, the subject was tackled with totality, and a visible sense of fun.
Sebastian Cox championed woodlands and wild lands rich in biodiversity and the ability to soak up CO2 for his collection of heirloom furniture, while a collaboration between LAYER and fashion brand RAEBURN saw the production of furniture crafted from upcycled military parachutes and minimalist welded steel frames.
Fung + Bedford’s Architectural Origami elevated the humble material of paper into a truly stunning installation, and Whale in the Room by DESIGN EARTH comprised a “speculative eco-fable that addresses what it is to live and die in the midst of the climate emergency.”
Again, elevating objects we use every day, Hussein Chalyan’s tableware collection for Karaca is surprisingly made from luxurious ground pearl. Tying back into the interlocking trend, the architectural plates and cups piece together beautifully - interlacing to allow multifunctional and multifaceted objects to be designed in ‘play’.
At the V&A was Plasticity – a monumental 3.6-metre-high sculpture created by Italian architect Niccolo Casas, exploring the possibility of turning a harmful waste material into something new. “3D printed by Nagami and made from Parley Ocean Plastic®, a catalyst material created from upcycled marine plastic waste intercepted from remote islands, beaches and coastal communities, the installation speaks to a radical new eco-innovative architecture, and Casas, Nagami, and Parley’s commitment to showing a vision of how design and architecture can become instigators of a circular economy that works in harmony with the ecosystem.”
The V&A also played host to our ACAD x Smile Plastics seating for the duration of the festival, providing stylish, sustainable furniture for the participants of the Global Design Forum to comfortably sit on.
With so much to see and do, this is simply a whistlestop tour of all that we saw and did. Do stay tuned to our social channels for more highlights from the festival. And up next on the Journal is an LDF 22 Plastics Unpackaged special, featuring insight from the Life In Plastic talk with Smile’s Emily Skinner. It’s not to be missed!
Show us your Smile! Did you take a photo of our stand at Material Matters last week? Give us a tag on social media @Smileplastics and we’ll be sure to share!