Bigger and bolder: a round-up of London Design Festival 2014

As the largest-ever London Design Festival finishes, here are our favourite moments, trends and stars.
The two-week-long London Design Festival is over and we celebrate all that it contained, from shows at Earls Court, Olympia, in Brick Lane and Bloomsbury and in a tent in Syon Park. There were also countless vibrant fringe events. Here’s our round-up of the highlights.
Superstar Parisian Philippe Starck, who’s put his design mark on everything from hotel rooms to toothbrushes, popped up everywhere with fourth wife Jasmine. He cut the ribbon at 100% Design and came to Heal’s to demo “customised” furniture called TOG.
“Choice is the future of style,” said Starck in a typical soundbite as he snapped on 15 stretchy coloured bands to make a stripy pattern on my chair back (chair bases are in five shades, with bands in a choice 13 colours, sold in packs of five — total chair costs £160). Also find snap-together furniture with parts in different shapes/colours and chair covers to decorate yourself.
Starck also had new tiles at Capitol Ceramics, SW6, and his Yoo hotel and design group celebrated its 15th anniversary at Tate Modern, showing off a furniture collection now at Harrods.


Curly tangle lamps in wood: by Charlie Whinney, £590 each
The London Design Medal went, a little strangely, to the Bouroullec Brothers of Paris, whose buttoned ovoid sofa for Ligne Roset is doing well in new colours at Heal’s and Harrods. More suitably, the Entrepreneur’s medal went to London’s Nicolas Roope, whose curvy Plumen low-energy bulb is now ubiquitous. Sir Richard Rogers won the Lifetime Achievement Award, at a dinner in his own Leadenhall Building in the City, with its glittering escalators more like a department store than an office block.


The POP Accademia limited edition bathtub: designed by Carlo Colombo at 100% Design
Underpinning the parties and relentless launches were thoughtfully curated shows with good things for our homes. SCP has low-key furniture, ceramics, utensils and super-thin glassware for sale in Shoreditch — they call it “simplified beauty”.
By contrast, pushy pattern shouts look-at-me not just from textiles and wallpapers but also tableware, wardrobes and even baths. Some motifs were rescued from the past, such as 1980s star Nathalie du Pasquier in textile prints at a Selfridges’ pop-up shop (Wrong for Hay), open until the end of December. And Vitra revived charming motifs by 1960s maestro Alexandre Garaud. Fashion duo Eley Kishimoto covered a Brixton pavement with a carpet of graffiti.


Nathalie du Pasquier’s Seventies-inspired fabrics: for Wrong for Hay available at Selfridges
“Hand-made” is a design mantra. “Craft” sounds a bit old-fashioned now that young designers are pushing materials/techniques and technology to their limits, felting rags into chairs, wrapping turned wood with wool, and spinning resins into swirly abstract bowls. Young designers have a cheerful chutzpah that belies their years — Sam Lloyd, 22, from Kingston University is doing sand-cast stools for Heal’s.
Travel and design agency PriestmanGoode filled a room with well presented and appealing ways for a better life from around the globe. Explore — how about hydroponics to grow vegetables in your kitchen?
The festival had its bonkers moments, too. Maverick design duo El Ultimo Grito made a theatre out of huge inflatables. We also saw a driverless car fashioned from stained glass and a pigeon fancier’s shed in Trafalgar Square.


Laid-back travel: stained glass, driverless “sleeper” car created by Dominic Wilcox as part of his vision of the future of mobility, exhibited at Dezeen and MINI Frontiers during the London Design Festival. Image: Sylvain Deleu
 A gem of a show of new lighting is at the Sir John Soane Museum, WC2, until October 11. The awe-inspiring vast silver cylinders in the roof of the Raphael Gallery at the V&A will rotate until October 24, and you can still catch Zaha Hadid’s arch over the lake.

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