LDF 2013: The Endless Stair

Endless Stair_Model by dRMM (02)

American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) will be exhibiting the Endless Stair outside the Tate Modern during the London Design Festival (LDF). The European Director of the AHEC stated why he chose LDF to promote the performance and value of hardwood as a sustainable material.

“Without doubt, the London Design Festival…[is] a truly dynamic and creative event that is both good fun and a serious platform to reach global design communities.”

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Gearing up for the London Design Festival

It’s almost time for the London Design Festival and some designers are already holding events to start off the spirit. Hendzel + Hunt will be holding a workshop this weekend surrounding their 100 hour challenge to build a number of benches along a stretch of the Regent’s Canal in Hackney, East London. The challenge appears to be inspired by a distinct lack of benches along this section of the waterway:

“Regent’s Canal is appreciated by commuters, families and tourists. On one of its busiest stretches, from Broadway Market to Victoria Park, not a single bench can be found to rest or contemplate. That is why we’ll create a 100h challenge to build 10 iconic benches which we will place during LDF.”

Limewharf multitranfbench Hackney

There will be countless fantastic events and exhibitions all over London to coincide with the festival, and while there are the obvious hot spots such as 100% Design and Tent London, a number of smaller venues will also be hosting some very noteworthy events. Our calendar feed on the right hand column of this blog will keep you updated on the hottest goings on surrounding designers specialising in sustainable and reclaimed materials. For more information about the Design Festival watch this video.

Number 19 Greek Street – Storytelling, Recycling & Contemporary Design

© Jamie McGregor Smith | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

During the London Design Festival one  of my favourite venues was 19 Greek Street. This brand new gallery established by Marc Péridis, Designer and Creative Director of the design studio Montage, aims to be London’s hub for craft, excellence and socially responsible design.

19 Greek Street

The impressive six-floor Victorian townhouse aims to become a centre for distinctive design storytelling, bringing together handpicked pieces from international design studios, as well as housing the UK outpost of ESPASSO, the much acclaimed US specialists in modernist and contemporary Brazilian design.

JZ Tea Trolley | Jorge Zalszupin | © Espasso
Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

Cantante Lamp | Etel Carmona | © Espasso
Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

19 Greek Street seeks to merge elements of social responsibility, recycling and contemporary design. The top floor design studio / workshop allows users to engage with the design processes of highly crafted pieces from the Australian design collective supercyclers.

Supercyclers | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

It features both commercial and non-commercial pieces in exhibition and showroom environments, while also featuring a screening/lecture room and a workshop space where guests can engage with the process: the work behind the work.

Solar Sinter | © Markus Kayser | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

Solar Sinter | © Markus Kayser | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

Fuelled by an innate sense of curiosity and exploration, Péridis’ extensive travels through the world’s design hubs of New York, Miami, São Paulo, Berlin, Milan, have set the tone for the space.

© Kate Elliott | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

This inaugural collection showcases works by an international stable of established design talents alongside emerging newcomers. The pristine white interior allows each exhibited piece of furniture to be presented individually and stand out to show every detail.

Elements | © Juan Pablo Naranjo Courtesy of 19 Greek Street

Péridis says of his decision to set up 19 Greek Street: “I am one of those people who plays with design like a child plays with his toys – with amazement and bewilderment, seeing an infinite potential in everything I find. This is design. So, for me, the idea was simple. I found a building that was looking for stories to tell, and I found stories that were dying to be told.”

Lillys Lightbox Company – Giving Original Beauty a New Lease of Life

Felicia Strehmel

At Design Junction I saw a wide range of brilliant designs and interesting designers,  but found very little recycled furniture on display. Then I came across Felicia Strehmel, who makes lightboxes from restored drawers featuring old photos and archive images.

They struck me immediately because of their warm yellow glow, the light exhumed by these transformed drawers is subtle and atmospheric, creating a cosy setting. The slides also have a depth to them drawing you in as the image appears to swim inside it.

All the images carry a mix of humour and nostalgia, focusing on scenes that are ephemeral and otherwise might be forgotten – such as the displays of the old East German valve radios which used to be stunning centre pieces of people’s homes that are no longer in our conscience.

She also refers to the Grunding 1960s Television ad campaign –  a cheeky reflection on how we all used to watch TV.

Felicia is a passionate photographer and gains a lot of her inspiration from scenes she has captured in her native Germany.

She also uses old archive photos and incorporates these into her different collections.

All the lightboxes are made from lovingly restored cabinet/bureau/chest of drawers from the 1900s through to the 1960s.  Felicia sources the drawers from recycle clearances or from old furniture she finds on the street.

She emphasized that she only uses pieces ready for the reclamation yard and would never dismantle an antique that still had hopes for restoration.

Felicia describes her light-boxes as “truly multi-dimensional – they are a striking artwork, an upcycled eco lamp and they take you on a journey if you let them.”

Design Junction – London Design Festival 2012

Last weekend I visited Design Junction as part of the London Design Festival in the old Sorting Office, a huge imposing building in Holborn. Inside there was a huge range of furniture and lighting on display, the exhibition was spread out over 3 floors allowing visitors to explore the huge number of designers displaying their work.

Lampshades by Tabitha Bargh

There were not many designers showing recycled furniture, however I did meet designers who incorporated a sustainable materials into their work such as Tabitha Bargh who makes lampshades from recycled cardboard and Alexena Cayless who reupholsters vintage furniture using local materials.

Alexena Cayless furniture

The vast expanse showed remnants of the buildings past. On the first floor old shoots and stairwells wound down from the ceiling like colourful steel sculptures.

Design Junction

In amongst the design show were pieces of ‘happy art’ by Mr Brainwash a man made famous by the Banksy film. A huge gorilla loomed over some of the stands on the ground floor and the façade was covered in a coloured photo of Queen Elizabeth holding a spray can, as if she had painted the image herself.

Mr Brainwash “Life is Beautiful” The Old Sorting Office

Around the World in 80 Chairs: Tyre Chair by René Olivier, London

Tyre Chair by René Olivier at Design Junction for the London Design Festival 2012.

Around the World in 80 Chairs: Living Chair – Chair Farm, London

Chair Farm © Studio Aisslinger at 19 Greek Street

I visited 19 Greek Street a new gallery space in Soho at the weekend as part of the London Design Festival. This exhibit of a ‘living’ chair structure was fascinating. The chair is positioned in a greenhouse complete with soil.

Studio Aisslinger describes the exhibit as the beginning of new life:

“This laboratory-like stage setup promises to be as spectacular as watching a dinosaur hatch from its egg: A chair is born from a steel corset! The only difference to the egg-comparison is the fact that the shell of the “chair farm” prototype is inside the chair’s structure instead of being outside.”

After the removal of the metal structure – described as the “corset”, the unique chair is revealed. The greenery has grown into the mould to form a structure akin to a chair.

“The chair is no longer produced in the classical sense of the word. Instead, it grows of its own volition in a greenhouse or on a field. When it has reached maturity, the steel corset is opened and removed, revealing a naturally grown chair. The title of the project by this Berlin-based designer, who imagines huge “product plantations” in the future, reflects this utopian means of production: the “chair farm””.

Chair Farm | © Studio Aisslinger | Courtesy of 19 Greek Street