Designersblock & Design Junction 2013

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Main & bottom right: Gerald paper dog collection by Lazerian design studio; Bottom left: I am a sundial by Joshua Barnes


I went to Southbank on my last day at the London design festival where Designersblock took place. In the past, I haven’t been so taken back by the work at this show, but this year, the show was bigger and more interesting than the previous years. At the back of the centre, the Gerald paper dog installation occupied almost half of the floor space. This project was a collaboration between Liam Hopkins (founder of Lazerian studio) and Richard Sweeney. Customised by over 100 international artists, the paper kit can be purchased on the studio’s website and be folded ( and glued) into sculptures for the homes.

Elsewhere at the centre displayed mostly work by newly graduate or current design students from the U.K., so it was a good opportunity to see works by young British designers.


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Top left: The milk of human kindness by Masami Charlotte Lavault; Ceramic vases by Ruth Harrison; Bottom left: A stone a mountain by Jing Feng Fang; Bottom right: Put it on the table by Lilian de Souza


Over at Design Junction at the Old Sorting Office in Holborn, the place was jam-packed, and it was not hard to see that ‘design’ at the end of the day, is a very ‘commercial’ business. At the venue, there were big international brands, up and coming brands, as well as smaller local studios, and there was huge emphasis on lighting design.


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Top left: Wovenground; Top right: Fade stools by Catherine Aitken studio; Main: Paul Cocksedge’s The Vamp installation of recycled hi-fi speakers; Bottom left & right: Work at Camberwell Collective


Amongst all the lighting companies, I was particularly drawn to LZF, a Spanish company that started out making handmade wood veneer lamps in Valencia in 1994. Their lamps are minimalistic, light in weight ( and aesthetically) and some even have an oriental/ Japanese flavour. I was also very fond of Chilean company, The Andes House‘s sustainable wicker range, Made in Mimbre, where designers team up with artisans from the Chimbarango region to rescue and revive traditional artisanal weaving techniques.

Another new talent to watch is Poetic Lab, set up by London-based designer ShiKai Tseng, a former RCA student from Taiwan. His Ripple lights and Shadow clock stood out amongst the big names, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses in the future.


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Top left: Recycled bottled-turned into lights by Western trash; Top right: BaroncellI; Top main: Ripple by Poetic lab; Middle left: Air lighting by LZF; Middle right: Apollo lighting system by International studio; Bottom main: Medusa, Bellota, Chinita by Claesson Koivisto Rune for Made in Mimbre/ The Andes House; Bottom left: Anemoi luminaires by Jay Watson.


After seeing so many design products within a few days, I couldn’t help feeling slightly ‘overdosed’. It also made question the role of ‘design’ and designers’ responsibilities today. The more I visit design shows or events, the more I feel that product designs today are too aesthetic-driven rather than innovation-driven. Of course not all products need to be innovative, but I feel that the market is now already over-saturated with aesthetic-led products/ designs and it is time for designers to re-think their approach to design and the market needs. Designers need to find a balance between aesthetics, functionality and innovation in order to stay competitive long term.

To be continued…


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