DesignrsBlock & Design Junction 2014

designersblock P1100467P1100469plumenDome by The Dub ModuleBeth Lewis Williams

Top left: DesignersBlock in Clerkenwell; 2nd row middle: Plumen’s tree installation; 2nd row right: Dome by The Dub Module; Bottom: Beth Lewis-Williams


To be honest, I didn’t think DesignersBlock‘s previous venue (South bank) was a suitable one because the show was too scattered and it just didn’t gel together as a whole. This year, the show moved to The Old sessions house in Clerkenwell, and it was a huge improvement (it just shows how much the venue affects the overall impression). In fact, this grade-II listed building (which used to be a courthouse). was my favourite show venues at the design festival. One of the hightlights was the cool Dome projection created by The Dub Module, and you can watch it below:


Designersblock Dome Projection – The Dub Module on Vimeo.


Another quirky installation was on the top floor of the building, and it was an oak tree in the middle of the room, laced with new lighting collection by Plumen. I loved the idea and the smell of oak!

In another room, some extra large clothing on the wall caught my eye… the project is created by London-based Japanese designer Tomomi Koseki. ‘The Body time machine’ explores the memory of bodies, and the designer made her parents’ clothing according to her current body size based on old family photographs. The project functions as a device to recall body memory, to journey through body transitions, whilst also becoming a device to renew the perception of it.

I also spoke to the designers behind Fanatic House, who have just launched their first collection at the show. I particularly like their Loop lamp, which is made of a single PVC sheet. The lamp is inspired by butterfly cocoon and is illuminated with an LED strip. It is simple, elegant and best of all, energy efficient.


P1100473Tomomi KosekiP1100483P1100484Los Enmascarados by Ana Jomenez Palomar

Top row: ‘The Rise of the Plasticsmith’ by Gangjian Cui; 2nd row left: ‘The Body time machine’ by Tomomi Koseki; 2nd row middle & right: Loop lamp & Voltage coat stand by by Design Fanatics;  Bottom: Los Enmascarados by Ana Jomenez Palomar


As I entered one of the rooms, I immediately recognised Gangjian Cui‘s ‘The Rise of the Plasticsmith’ from the RCA show a few months earlier. I have written about this previously but it was interesting to talk to the designer about his concept and to watch a video of the making process. I think this is a very thoughtful and intriguing project, not only does it highlight the issues that face China’s manufacturing future, but the use of plastic as a material for craft is very unusual.


THE RISE OF PLASTIC SMITH from gangjian cui on Vimeo.


Finally, I spoke to Ronnie Chan, a London-based Hong Kong jewellery designer behind the brand Rhapsody in forest. Ronnie’s new collection is inspired by the Baroque style, it is very delicate, sophisticated and modern at the same time.

I think this year was by far the most ‘satisfying’ DesignersBlock show for me. It was also wonderful to have also met and chatted to many aspiring designers there.


angela fungP1100444craft centralangela fungcraft central silo studio

Top left: Angela Fung demonstrating her origami skills at Craft Central; Top middle & right: Pia Wüstenberg; Main: Angel’s origami installation at Craft Central; Bottom right: Silo Studio


Coincidentally, I walked past Craft Central, which is situated opposite The Old Session House and I saw jewellery designer Angela Fung ( whom I met at the East London design show last year) sitting behind the glass window. I was quite surprised to see her there folding origami, so I greeted her and went in for a chat. Origami is Angela‘ main passion, which has had a strong influence on her jewellery designs. She has been creating origami installations for various organisations since 2008, and this time, she was selected to create a special installation for the Craft Central. She was also invited to demonstrate on site so that visitors can learn more about her working process. Angela uses Tyvek, a manmade water/tear proof fibre, which has the qualities of paper. The process is long and requires a lot of patience and focus, which is similar to meditation. However, the end result is stunning and again it shows that the art, craft and design is very interlinked in this day and age.


Dominic Wilcox's stained glass driverless carDaisy Ginsburg's Mini-synbio Lucy McRae's 'Prep your Body for Space'a child's dream

Top: Dominic Wilcox’s stained glass driverless car; 2nd row left: Daisy Ginsburg’s Mini-synbio; 2nd row right: Lucy McRae’s ‘Prep your Body for Space’; Bottom: ‘A Child’s Dream’ exhibition


My last trade show at the design festival was Design Junction in Holborn. This year, the show was bigger with more pop up shops on the ground floor and an additional lighting section was added in the basement.

On the ground floor, Dezeen and MINI’s collaborative project Frontiers showcased work by six young designers exploring how design and technology would shape our future. The most ‘bizarre’ project on display was Lucy McRae‘s ‘Prep your Body for Space’, which involved visitors getting their bodies vacuum-packed! You can read more about the project via the designer’s website above.

I am a fan of Dominic Wilcox‘s quirky and humourous designs. At the show, he presented his driverless glass car prototype with a bed inside, where the passenger can sleep while the car takes them to their destination. The car combines the hand made process of glass work with modern and future technologies to create a proposal of how transport could be in the middle of the 21st century. I hope I will live to see this design becomes a reality!


P1100574IMG_0844design by maiLightyears' Aeon Rocket pendantP1100640

Main: Charlie Whinney studio; 2nd row middle: Design by Mai; 2nd row right: Lightyears‘ Aeon Rocket pendant; Bottom: Love Neon


Lighting used to the main focus at Design Junction’s previous shows, but this year there were notably more craft-related stands including AfghanMade carpets curated by Wallpaper. Surprisingly, the project was set up in 2006 by the American Task Force for Business Stability Operations to help develop the country’s indigenous industries and bring the country up to speed with contemporary production techniques. This is a highly commendable project, and the final designs are high in quality, rich in colours, and contemporary.


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Top left, 2nd row left & middle: Afghan Made carpets; The rest: Ventura London – top right: Amma Studio; 2nd row right: Elements by Jomi Evers Solheim; 3rd row: Polychronic Bowls by Studio Viatopia; Bottom left: Slow living, slow tea by Tianman Song; Bottom right: Emergency Porcelain hammer by Qian Jiang & Ida Kristiansen & Karin Ekwall


One of the largest stands at the show was Ventura London, where they curated and presented a variety of work by 31 international designers, design studios, design labels and brands. The one product that brought a smile to my face the Emergency porcelain hammer by Qian Jiang from Lund University in Sweden. The fragile porcelain has been turned into a robust hammer, it is certainly an interesting contrast!

Another interesting display was Polychronic Bowls by British design studio Studio Viatopia. The studio focuses on speculative design and critical craft through material experimentation. Their colourful Polychronic Bowls are the results of a materials research project that investigates contemporary theories of time and alternative approaches to combining materials when making objects in a localised small batch environment.


Katherina Gross's Waxploration Katherina Gross's Waxplorationdaniel & emma P1100611 amanda tongdesign junction

Top left: Katherina Gross’s Waxploration; Top right: 2nd row: Daniel and Emma; 3rd row left: Over easy by Yard sale project; 3rd row right: Amanda Tong.


Last but not least, I was very intrigued by London-based design student Katherina Gross‘s Waxploration collection, in which she interprets the meaning of home and the relationships between furniture and emotional spaces. Katarina adapted the process of candle making and used wax as a raw material, capturing and freezing movements in time. The strong contrast between the fluidity of wax and the solidity of metal material works well together, creating pieces that are unique and aesthetically appealing. Great work.



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