At Earls Court, savvy and assured, was 100% Design, with a spacious avenue for “emerging brands”. This was a trend for the whole festival: where the newer names — not necessarily young — shone the brightest. Underpinning it all was a new professionalism. No more maddening “prototypes” — goods are ready to-go from their ingenious and resourceful designers.
The cleverest match old crafts with new technology. Hanna Francis, for example, stamps her folk-style patterns into shaped timber for a lamp shade, while Cornwall-based James Smith slots Somerset withies through a laser-cut metal disc for an explosion of wicker sticks that turn out to be a light (both seen at 100% Design).
Pattern, in all its guises scored the highest marks. British art colleges are currently riding high, producing fresh wallpapers, fabrics, rugs and china. Find clever geometrics and breath-taking colourways, as the country’s new grads hone their skills into home furnishings.
They are unequalled worldwide, and we’re lucky they made London their base for a week. The Royal College of Art, St Martin’s, the Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design colonised empty spaces across the capital, adding flair, panache, wit and a little subversion to the festival mix.
Pattern power I’ll be tracking includes Abigail Edwards, Tamasyn Gambell, and Sian Elin (all at Tent London in the East End), and Kit Miles (at Mint). Lorna Syson was at 100% Design with her eye-easy fabrics/papers, but also flaunting a fab wall-hanging in rippled felt inspired by the higgledy-piggledy buildings of Southwark.
To this fair also came Elisa Kesuma from Scotland, where she set up studio in 2011, creating an edgy urban collection that will do well down South. And Polly Granville had brought her zany “creative upholstery” from Brixton Hill to designersblock, in and around the Royal Festival Hall.
So wrong but so right
Danish design firm Hay asked London designer sebastian Wrong to pull together a collection of cutting-edge design items from the UK, which now fill a showcase at the V&A shop. These cushions designed by Natalie du Pasquier are among the trophies.
God is in the details, proclaimed 14 magnifying glasses scattered by leading designers around the V&A to reveal intricate workmanship and rich colour. Elsewhere, the small was everywhere too, and very beautiful. Ceramics, glass, woodware and metals were melded into exquisite mini-products: from door knobs to stationery.
Christmas looms, and here were perfect prezzies. The humble tea towel is now worth a frame, and cushions are right-on artworks. Candles glow from tiny sculptures; fashioned by Cumbria Crystal from the Lake District, one of the last British makers of lead crystal, the new Lyre range at Decorex had sparkling criss-cross lines on carafes, tumblers and champagne flutes.
And you can buy a mini-version of a giant ethereal chandelier that has been on show at the V&A, a glorious constellation cascading from the museum’s dome. Its designer, Omer Arbel of Bocci, came from Canada to explain how the glass is sucked as well as blown.
The globules then implode into random layers, each different. Hang one singly at home or go for a group in similar ravishing colours. Viaduct in Clerkenwell will help you work out a configuration (viaduct.co.uk).