London design festival: Kings Cross design district


coaldropsyard  coaldropsyard

Coal Drops Yard


This year, the ever-changing Kings Cross was chosen as the design district for the first time at the London design festival. Aside from the annual design trade show, DesignJunction, there were many exhibitions and activities taking place during the festival.

I received a trade preview invitation to visit Designjunction, so I set off earlier to see what was happening in the area. The initial installations I encountered were two giant wooden sculptures that resembled robots. Designed by Steuart Padwick, the “Talk to me” installations were designed to ‘converse’ with passerby, as part of Designjunction in support of the charity Time to Change to encourage Londoners to talk about mental health.


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‘Talk to me’ installations


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Camille Walala’s installations


Probably the most ‘bizarre’ installation at the design festival was “Disco Carbonara”, by London-based Italian furniture designer Martino Gamper. Inpspired by the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a Potemkin village, the designer used film sets and scaffolding to create a temporary structure. There was disco music playing inside and a bouncer standing outside stamping visitor’s hands, yet there was nothing inside… it was just a façade.

The fake disco structure was made from a patchwork of cladding created from waste offcuts from an Italian company called Alpi. The conceptual installation aimed to make visitors think about urban design, and the sustainability of temporary structures created for short-term events like the London design festival.


Disco Carbonara by Martino Gamper

Disco Carbonara by Martino Gamper


Tottex and Kiosk N1C 

Textile waste banner installations by Tottex and Kiosk N1C



img_1905  img_1907

STORE Store making meringue


Granby Workshop launched a new range of ceramic tableware made from 100% waste materials. The range has grown out of extensive research by the Liverpool-based ceramics studio gathering, testing and analysing materials from a wide range of post-consumer and industrial waste streams including glass, metal and ceramic recycling, steel production, quarry spoils and water filtration. Collectively, these sources generate hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste per year which otherwise goes to landfill. The range is now available for purchase on Kickstarter.


Granby Workshop

Granby Workshop  Granby Workshop

Granby Workshop

Granby Workshop


tom dixon  tom dixon

tom dixon  tom dixon

TouchySmellyFeelyTastyNoisy at Tom Dixon


PRINT - Bill Amberg Studio

PRINT - Bill Amberg Studio

PRINT - Bill Amberg Studio

PRINT - Bill Amberg

PRINT – Bill Amberg Studio‘s new ccollection of digitally-printed leather hides are made with collaborators including Marcel Wanders, Calico Wallpaper, Solange Azagury-Partridge, Lisa Miller, Alexandra Champalimaud and artist Matthew Day Jackson.


Out of all the exhibits and events that I saw on the day, ‘Designing in the turbulent times‘ initiated by Maison/0 – the sustainable innovation programme created at Central Saint Martins in partnership with the luxury group LVMH – was by far the most interesting and thought-provoking. The exhibition showcased graduate projects from Central Saint Martins offering compelling propositions for more sustainable and equitable futures. “How can we break away from our current systems and adapt a more sustainable way of living?” is the question that we should all be thinking about, and here, these young designers are trying to address this issue in their work.


designing in turbulent times

designing in turbulent times  designing in turbulent times

designing in turbulent times

Maria Cuji

Bottom: Maria Cuji’s worked with artisans from Ecuador tp produce woven textile made from factory offcuts and leftover yarn.


'Weighting feathers' by Jing Jiang

'Weighting feathers' by Jing Jiang

‘Weighting feathers’ by Jing Jiang uses waste feathers from the farming industry to create a jewellery design range


Olivia Page

Olivia Page

Olivia Pages exploration on bio-waste materials and has created a “Recipe Book of North Portugal, Abundant Biological Wastes for Construction Materials”


designing in turbulent timesi  designing in turbulent times

designing in turbulent times

Grayshan Audren‘s ‘Seamless: Woven workwear for the automated future’ addresses the waste issue in the fashion industry; Top right: ‘Wool: Re Crafted’ by Nathalie Spencer is a vegan alternative to wool by utilising the discarded waste leaves of pineapples from markets and juice bars around London and processing the fibres into a wearable material. 


Tansy Hamley  Tansy Hamley

Tansy Hamley

Tansy Hamley

Tansy Hamley  Tansy Hamley

Tansy Hamley

Tansy Hamley’s ‘An Indian traffic jam” display of blockprinted and indigo-dyed textiles at Central St Martins reminded me of my textiles trip in Indian earlier in the year.


designjunction: The Greenhouse by LSA & Friends

designjunction: The Greenhouse by LSA & Friends

designjunction: The Greenhouse by LSA & Friends

designjunction: The Greenhouse showcased LSA’s new CANOPY collection, a partnership with the Eden Project alongside a range of products and concepts from brands such as Vitra, String Furniture, Artcoustic, with plants decorated by The Botanical Boys.


The organiser of designjunction changed this year, and the locations of the show were scattered around different parts of Kings Cross. I skipped the Canopy pop-up shops because there were too many activities happening at once! At the main Cubitt House Pavilion, there were less emerging designers and fewer exhibitors than before, which was quite disappointing. I visited my friends from Di Classe, had some drinks and decided to call it a night.


diclasse  di classe


isokon  isokon

Designjunction at Cubitt House Pavilion


The last stop of the night was Designjunction’s Rado Star Prize in the King’s Cross Light Tunnel where they showcased design pieces by the next generation of young British designers. The theme, ‘Re:Imagine’, explored different ways design can improve life: by evolving existing product forms through materials, function, technology, end-use or even, re-use. Surprisingly, this section of the show was more interesting than the main pavilion, so I believe the organiser need to make some changes to improve the show next year.





Top: Judges’ winner 2019 – Huw Evans’s Concertina collection


Paris Design Week 17: Now! Le Off

now! le off

now! le off


I have to admit that I have not been keeping up with my blog writing this year, and there is a backlog of unfinished posts that are yet to be published; hence my new tactic is to reduce the amount of writing so that I can keep up to date with what is currently happening.

September is a busy month for designers, retailers and wholesalers as there are many design-related events and trade shows in both London and Paris. Although it is not my first visit to mega home and design trade show Maison et Objet, it is my first visit to Paris design week. Now in its 7th year, this design event might not be as prodigious as the London Design festival (which will start next week), yet it is still a good opportunity to see the current trends and offerings in the French capital city.


Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design  Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design

Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design

Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design


For those who don’t want to splash out €60 to visit Maison et Objet, Now! Le off design show (9th-13th Sept) at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design is a good alternative as it is free and opened to the public. Here, you would find many up and coming young talents from France and beyond, and it offers an opportunity to meet the designers up face to face.




One pleasant surprise for me at the show was to see an inflatable and portable boat ‘Ar Vag‘ designed by French designer Thibaut Penven. The economical folding boat may be set up in five movements in a manner similar to a tent. It is made of panels of fibre glass and a welded PVC material, and it assumes its final shape thanks to a varnished pine bench. The oars are perfectly integrated into the folded boat’s format.


Ar Vag by thibault penven

Ar Vag by Thibaut Penven


Since I love origami, I was immediately drawn to an origami tent Les cocons designed by Origanid. This foldable and waterproof tent is made of TYVEK®, and it is a lovely way for children or adults to hide away from the world if they need to. I would love to hide inside when I am feeling blue sometimes!





I walked past a table full of playful ‘stuff’ which was surrounded by intrigued visitors, so I tried to squeeze near the table to figure out what these items were. It turned out that the interesting items on the table are designed by Flayou, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Tunis. The two former architecture students experimented with different materials to create miniature architectural models based on buildings in Tunis; they also adopted the traditional pottery-making craft to create three board games made from clay. I think their designs are intuitive, fun and delightful.



Playful designs focusing on materials and craftsmanship by Tunis-based Flayou


Du cote de chez vous‘, the creative label of Leroy Merlin, is showcasing 4 winning projects from its Young talents scheme at the show. These projects were created with the theme based on reinventing modularity in homes. I especially like Antoine Taillandier‘s ‘Plug and make’ organiser, which is a simple but highly functional plywood board that can be used as a table or shelf.

Nearby, Ecole Bleue Global Design showcases 13 projects designed by their design students. Key, designed by Yohann Hewak, is a bookshelf that requires no nails or screws; for those of us who constantly struggle to assemble an Ikea bookshelf, this bookshelf would no doubt save the day.


Cloison Personnalisable by Caroline Chapron  Tabtouli by Lucie Lasjuilliarias

plug and make [organizer]

plug and make [organizer]  Liku by Juliette Chalumeau

key by Yohann Hewak

 Criss Cross Air by Annouck Bussiere

Top left: Cloison Personnalisable by Caroline Chapron; Top right: Tabtouli by Lucie Lasjuilliarias; 2nd row & 3rd left: Antoine Taillandier’s plug and make; 3rd right: Liku by Juliette Chalumeau; 4th row: key by Yohann Hewak; Bottom row: Criss Cross Air by Annouck Bussiere



draft   atelier errance

Parade by Caroline Scholl and Frederique Vinel from Handmade Ici

Top: Design Lituanie showcases designs by Lithuanian designers; Left: Ripple table by Draft; Right: Plipli porcelain inspired from paper folding by Atelier Errance; Bottom: Parade by Caroline Scholl and Frederique Vinel from Handmade Ici


LAYERS by uau project

chaire idis  img_4834-min

Top: LAYERS by UAU project; Bottom left: Chaire Idis; Bottom right: An upcycled woven chair made from plastic waster by the Filipino company, junk not




Bottom row: Murmur lighting by Mona Ronteix Studio






2nd row: Maztri

New designers Part II 2016

Northumbria university products

Lewis power Leon lighting  Kaelin Rose Newton's CitySprout

Top: Northumbria university’s crafted interactive products; Bottom left: Leon lighting by Lewis Power; Bottom right: Kaelin Rose Newton’s CitySprout


This year’s New Designers show Part II was probably the best that I have been to in recent years. Overall the standard was very high, and I think it was more exciting than the DMY International design festival that I attended in Berlin a month ago. The show continues to affirm the outstanding design talents in the UK, and it is always exhilarating for me to see innovative designs that could change people’s lives for the better.

At Northumbria University, the merge of new technologies and traditional craft making resulted in a series of minimalist designs that are innovative, functional and aesthetically beautiful. One of the them is Kyle Abbott‘s ‘Touching Warmth’ –  a personal heater which becomes active when picked up and stroked. The temperature of the object can mimic the warmth and comfort of body heat.

I also spoke to Tom Leslie, one of the two winners of the ‘John Lewis Loves’ awards from the group. His project ‘In Search of Atmosphere’ and the other winner, Lewis Power‘s ‘Leon’ both explore users’ experiences through their interaction with light and objects.


james vanderpant  Bryn Burbidge's SeatLocky

Jaxon Pope's 'modular gas burners

Top left: James Vanderpant‘s touch sensitive modular lighting ‘Helios’ won the Johnson Tiles Associate Prize; Top right: Bryn Burbidge’s ‘SeatLocky’; Bottom: Jaxon Pope/Selce Studio‘s ‘modular gas burners’.


At London South Bank University, there were also some intriguing display like CitySprout‘ by Kaelin Rose Newton – an indoor hydroponic planting unit with removable modular sections and a water reservoir in the base. There are moisture sensors in both levels to ensure that the plants are watered autonomously. The design also functions as lighting, which is perfect for all modern city homes.

Another was ‘SeatLocky’ by Bryn Burbidge, winner of the New Designers Innovate – Helping Inventors Associate Prize at the show. Bryn told me that he came up with the design of ‘SeatLocky’ after his bike and bike seat were stolen. The bicycle locking device consists of 6 cnc’d aluminium hinges which lock together for insertion into the seat tube. It is an elegant looking device, and I hope it will be launched in the market soon.


George Riding's The Wire Series table   DSC_0046-min

george riding's watering cans

Maddie Lamont's Jarrah

winter and kurth  winter and kurth

Top left: George Riding’s The Wire Series table; 2nd row: George riding’s watering cans; 3rd row: Maddie Lamont‘s Jarrah; Bottom: Winter and Kurth’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ 


Winter and Kurths ‘For What It’s Worth’ is a collection of work that debates the value we place on high design and craftsmanship and its perception as a status symbol. One of the pieces is an unique Marquetry table with graphite legs influenced by Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In praise of shadows in which comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. I love the subtlety of their designs and their precise craftsmanship, and I would like to see more thoughtful furniture like this in the market.


KreisBoard by lucas freitas santos  Joshua Akhtar's Baithive

Conor Shimizu Moore's Artemis

jack hubery   Elspeth MacLeod's Mella

Josh James's 'Melt'

Top left: ‘KreisBoard’ by Lucas Freitas Santos; Top right: Joshua Akhtar’s ‘Baithive’; 2nd row: Conor Shimizu Moore’s ‘Artemis’; 3rd left: Jack Hubery’s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’; 3rd right: Elspeth MacLeod’s ‘Mella’ beehive; Bottom: Josh James’s ‘Melt’


Sustainability and recyclability continue to be the key concerns in the design world, and there were some notable projects at the show.

Lucas Freitas Santos‘ KreisBoard is a surfboard covered in 17,000 cigarette butts collected in only 2 days. The toxic litter contains more than 4000 chemicals that pollute our oceans worldwide. I was surprised by the statistics, and I think the project delivers a strong and important message to the world.

Jack Hubery‘s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’ is a collection of colourful bowls made from recycled plastic bottles using rigs and domestic oven.

Similarly, Josh James‘s ‘Melt’ is a kit that enables anyone to turn their waste plastic into beautiful handcrafted objects, at home. It is particularly encouraging to see waste plastic being turned into beautiful and personalised handcrafted objects or stationery. The project also won the ‘’ Award at the show.

The New Designer of the Year Award’s Runner Up, Elspeth MacLeod is a Industrial Design & Technology graduate from Loughborough University. Her Mella is a self-monitoring beehive, allowing the user to check up on their bees whenever they want. The system checks the temperature and humidity regularly, and it aims to reduce direct contact between the user and their bees, and create a healthier environment for colonies to thrive in.

Another bee-related project is ‘Bait Hive’ – a sustainable, low-cost design solution for a foldable bee hive. Josh Akhtar from Brighton University is the second winner of this year’s New Designers W’innovate & Wilko Award. His Bait Hive is designed to be used in a wide variety of locations and is dedicated to swarm capture. It utilises a pheromone to aid in attracting a swarm, and once it enters the hive, a rotating door is used to trap the queen whilst allowing the colony to continue to forage, ensuring the swarm stays in its new location.

I also had an interesting chat with Conor Shimizu Moore from University of Sussex about his ‘Artemis’ growing kit – a new vivarium that features both an aquarium tank, and an open-terrarium environment. Artemis’s open-terrarium features a cutting edge “Shikkou-Nuri” paint technology from Japan that allow users to grow variety of plants from kitchen herbs to even Sphagnum Moss.


amy elisa lowe's hello hospital

DSC_0009-min  DSC_0028-min


Sebastian Ng Lei's insect eating  pierce brennan's handle with care

Top: Amy Elisa Lowe’s Hello Hospital; 2nd left: Robert Sampay’s ‘Dawn’; 3rd row: April Wu‘s ‘Mercury’ is a fun DIY musical instrument for children in poor countries; Bottom left: Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’; Bottom right: Pierce Brennan’s ‘Handle With Care®’

Amy Elisa Lowe‘s fun ‘Hello Hospital’ is an interactive storyboard which helps children and parents learn about the stages of going to hospital prior to admission in order for them to feel more at ease.

I learned about the existing drug dispensing error of the hospitals from Robert Sampay, whose mother is a nurse. His drug dispensing device, Dawn aims to reduce this problem and provide a safer way to load, track and dispense medication to patients. Patient prescription information is provided through an intuitive bluetooth low energy platform, resulting in an easier administration procedure and enhanced patient safety.

The Mars Chocolate Design Thinking Award winner, Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’ actually sounds more mind-boggling than it actually is. The sustainable project challenges our conventional view of food consumption in the West. The designer explained to me that his machine can product low-cost and nutritious cricket crackers that are more beneficial and eco-friendly than meat-eating. The concept is fascinating, but can consumers overcome their psychological barrier? I wonder what cheese on cricket crackers will taste like…

For people with OCD (myself included), Pierce Brennan’s Handle With Care® – a door handle with hand sanitiser is much appreciated. If this product becomes widely available, we can finally put away the tissues we often use to avoid touching the dirty door handles!



Bethany Christou's Slow Samson  tilly gibbs


Sarah adams DSC_0080-min IMG_6328


2nd row left: Bethany Christou‘s Slow Samson; 2nd row right: Tilly Gibbs‘ ‘A to Z of New York’; 3rd row: Katie Williams‘ The evacuation of St Kilda’; 4th left: Sarah Adams‘ needle felting work; 4th middle: Emily Dayson; 4th right: I love this Donald Trump illustration!


Shannon Bartlett Smith  Rebecca Chan's komorebi side tables

Shannon Bartlett Smith


Top left and 2nd row: Shannon Bartlett Smith’s Paper cuts; top right: Rebecca Chan’s Komorebi side tables; Bottom: Kate Colin design‘s hand folded lamps


Last but not least, I spent the last 15 minutes of my visit at One Year on chatting to Shannon Bartlett Smith and Rebecca Chan. I was quite blown away by Shannon‘s papercut sculpture, and I found her delicate hand-cut pieces inspired by her hometown completely mesmerising! Meanwhile, her neightbour Rebecca Chan‘s Komorebi side tables inspired by the interplay between light and trees are also unique and beautiful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to fully enjoy the graphic design section, which was a real shame. But what I saw briefly was encouraging, and I hope that all these UK design students will continue to produce brilliant work.

After experiencing disappointment at the design festivals in London and abroad, I finally feel more reassured after my visit to this graduate show! I only hope that Brexit will not be a barrier for these young talents in the future. I wish them all the best!

Design Junction 2015

Victoria Housevictoria houseVictoria Housethe college the college the college

Top row: the art deco features at Victoria House: 2nd & bottom rows: The college


Like 100% Design, this year, Design Junction moved from its previous location (the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office on New Oxford Street) to two enormous and historical venues on Southampton Row – the art deco Victoria House (completed in 1932) and The College (the former site of Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design completed in 1908). The interior of both buildings are fascinating, but the maze-like layout (esp. at The college) made it hard for visitors to navigate and most of us were constantly going round in circles within the building.


P1140571-compressedvic leerokosAlicja Patanowskagoat story

Top: Teddy’s wish installation; 2nd left: Vic Lee working on a mural; 2nd middle: Tipping vases by Rokos; 2nd right: Plantation by Alicja Patanowska; Bottom row: Goat Story


This year, the retail section was allocated to the basement of Victoria house, which was the original home of the show back in 2011. One of the attractions was the ‘Teddy’s wish’ installation created by Anthony Dickens and Studio Make Believe, featuring 21 iconic Eames elephants customised by world renowned designers and architects.



Top & bottom left: Blackbody; Bottom middle: Ango; Bottom right: Haberdashery


Lighting had always been a strong focus at this design fair in the past, and this year was no exception. Over at The College site, the entire ground floor was dedicated to lighting, and one of the most visually spectacular was French light company Blackbody‘s installations at one of the entrances. I was also drawn to the nature-inspired lighting created by the Thai company Ango. The company’s designs have won awards at various local and international design shows including Good design award in Japan and Maison et Objet in France.


the gem roomlaufen at the gem room coelacanth shokudoucoelacanth shokudoucoelacanth shokudouYuta Segawa

Top and 2nd left: The gem room; 2nd right, 3rd & 4th rows: Scissors and crafts by Coelacanth Shokudou; Bottom: Yuta Segawa’s miniature pots


Among all the contemporary products, it was unexpected to see a Japanese craftsman sitting on the floor and making a pair of scissors in the middle of the room. Coelacanth Shokudou is a design research centre from Hyogo Prefecture in Japan that utilises local resources and traditional skills to produce functional and high quality designs.

Another surprise discovery for me was Yuta Segawa‘s miniature pots at the UAL now exhibitors section. The Camberwell MA graduate’s vast array of ceramic vessels are delicate and delightful, I absolutely adore them!


tools for everyday lifetools for everyday lifetools for everyday lifewe do wood Noble and woodTotem Mill by Tylko

Top row: Tools for everyday life; 2nd left: We do wood; 2nd right: Cape light by Noble and wood; Bottom: Totem Mill by Tylko


As a stationery fan, it was hard for me to not fiddle with the range of stationery and other tools displayed at the Tools for everyday life stand. The research project examines how skilled manufacture can lead to beautiful things, allowing the designers a space to explore and reflect on ‘making’ as a commercially relevant process in the manufacture of functionally useful things. The collection of products and furniture are created by designers who studied BA (hons) 3D Design programme at Northumbria University. The objects are playful and captivating, and the high quality craftsmanship reveals the beauty of ubiquitous every day tools in the most direct manner.

In our technology-driven society today, designers have to respond, adapt and innovate quicker than ever before. Backed by design entrepreneur Yves Behar (founder of Fuse project),the Polish furniture startup Tylko launched an app that allows users to customise each furniture piece according to their own desire and see it in their own space. Will this type of parametric design and technology change the way we shop in the future? We shall wait and see, but it is always exciting to see designers pushing the boundaries and finding new methods to innovate.


Maggie's donation box by Benjamin HubertBenjamin Hubert

Top: Maggie’s donation box by Benjamin Hubert; Bottom: Talk by Benjamin Hubert


Last but not least, it was interesting to attend a talk by designer Benjamin Hubert (founder of Layer) on his new donation box design for Maggie’s ( cancer support centre) and Worldbeing, a self-directed wearable and app supported by the Carbon Trust that tracks carbon usage. Although it has been predicted that wearable technology will be as Big as smartphones in the years to come, I still have reservation about this trend. The flop of google glass and Apple Watch indicates that perhaps consumers are not ready yet. Is it due to design flaws or psychological reasons? Again, only time will tell.



Tent London 2015

100% norway tent 2015

Facade of 100% Norway at Tent London


For some reason, the design trade shows that I attended this year at The London design festival appeared to be quieter than usual. At Tent London, the atmosphere was a far cry from the chaos I experienced last year… not sure if it was the time of the day or if attendees have dropped this year.

As always, one of the biggest stand at the show was 100% Norway with 26 designer/manufacturers exhibiting furniture and products inspired mostly by the country’s nature.


P1140513-compressedP1140535-compressed Trefjøla

Top: 100% Norway; Bottom left: Constancy and change in Korean traditional craft; Bottom right: Cutting boards by Trefjøla at 100% Norway


The main trend of the show was handcrafted designs made of natural materials like wood and clay, and this was evident at the Irish stand, O Design ad craft from Ireland. I was most pleasantly surprised by the simple, beautiful and well crafted work on display. I especially love the range of nature-inspired homeware by Superfolk, the cute wooden toys by Saturday Workshop, and the extraordinary stone sculptures by Helen O’Connell.


Mourne textiles saturday workshopsuperfolksuperfolkSuperfolkadam frewhelen O'Connell helen O'Connell

Top left: Mourne textiles; Top right: Saturday workshop; 2nd to 4th rows: Superfolk; 5th row: Adam Frew; Bottom row: Stone sculptures by Helen O’Connell


This year, there was no sign of Tokyo design week, and the overall Asian presence was less visible than the previous years. The largest stand from Asia was EATAIPEI, an immersive stand that promotes Taipei, which will be the World Design Capital of 2016. One of the most fascinating designs on display was the plastic ceramic tableware by Pili Wu. Inspired by traditional Chinaware from the Song dynasty and disposable plastic wares used in many taiwanese roadside restaurants, the range of plastic tableware could easily be mistaken as ceramics! Cool.

Another Taiwanese stand that caught my eye was Case, a new design studio that raises awareness on environmental and social issues through their thought-provoking products. The ceramic Toxic Tuna sauce dish features a sinking ship and comes with a map of worldwide oil spills, which reminds us of the hidden health risks from consuming the toxic seafood. There are also candles shaped as plastic waste, which reminds us of the poisonous released when plastic is burned. It is encouraging to see new brands like this using design to raise consumers’ awareness, I hope they will continue to keep up with the good work.


IMG_0184-compressedIMG_0183-compressed case projectssurugajiahao liao jiahao liao

Top row: Eataipei – Plastic ceramics by Pili Wu; 2nd row left: Eataipei –  2nd row right: Case project; 3rd row: Suruga from Japan; Bottom row: JiaHao Liao


I also spoke to Paris-based Singaporean designer JiaHao Liao, whose furniture and designs express a subtle Eastern influence and detailed craftsmanship. The ‘ADAPTable’ is inspired by the Chinese mahjong table and can be used as either a dinning or coffee table. The ‘1+1+1’ is a 3-piece multi-configuration furniture inspired by traditional Chinese furniture from the Ming dynasty, which can be used as a coffee table, stool, chair or armchair. I particularly like ‘lightscape’, a versatile and playful lamp that is made up of 3 geometric shapes in 3 different raw materials, wood, iron and stone. The design encourages the user to interact with and to compose various “landscapes” resulting in different lighting positions and graphical composition.


julian jay rouxSarah Tran Xuezhi LiuTortus CopenhagenWeeds by Karina Marusinska julain wattsP1140538-compressedlofstromKIWI by Agnieszka Tomalczyk P1140558-compressed

Top row: Julian Jay Roux; 2nd left: Sarah Tran’s textiles; 2nd right: Xuezhi Liu‘s ceramics; 3rd row: Tortus Copenhagen; 4th left: Weeds by Karina Marusinska; 4th right: Julian Watts‘ wood carvings; 6th row: Lofstrom; Bottom left: KIWI by Agnieszka Tomalczyk


At trade shows like these, the display of the stand is very important as it has to catch the visitors’ attention immediately. I was drawn to Lofstrom‘s stand because of its simple but effective mix of typography and photos its the wall. I spoke to Swedish interior designer Mikael Löfström and learned that it was his first show in London. His new jewellery collection features handmade necklaces composed of various sized and coloured recycled wood with typography on it. The collection reminds me of wooden toys for children, very simple, creative and playful, just like his stand.


IMG_0206-compressedEkta KaulBaileyTomlinShop ron arad

Etsy’s ‘Four Corners of Craft’ – 2nd row: Ekta Kaul‘s Embroidered London Map Quilt; Bottom left: BaileyTomlinShop; Bottom right: Ron Arad and Patrizia Moroso at Supertalks


It is always entertaining to attend talks by architect/designer Ron Arad. At Supertalks, he was invited to discuss his successful 25-year collaboration with Patrizia Moroso. It was especially ‘entertaining’ to see how he reacted when he was constantly interrupted by journalist Jonn Elledge. The vibe was awkward and I felt embarrassed for the journalist. Was it a good idea to invite the editor of CityMetric and New Statesman to chair a design talk? Maybe not.



New designers 2014 Part.2

new designers 2014new designers 2014IMG_9141Kai Venus Designs new designers 2014

Bottom left: Kai Venus Designs‘ The cabinet of curiosity; Bottom right: Best stand award went to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee


The last design graduation show I attended this year was New Designers 2014 Part 2 at the Islington Business Design Centre. From my past experience, I know that it would be hard to check out all the work in one go, so I signed up for the ‘meet the design award winners tour’ in order to meet the award winners directly instead of wandering around aimlessly for hours.


IMG_9137IMG_9136Dan BrooksEmilie Osborne Elizabeth White

Top left & middle: Alex Daniels, New Designer of the year award runner up; Top right: Dan Brooks, winner of Wilko Award for Innovation; Bottom left: Emilie Osborne, winner of the One Year On award; Bottom right: Elizabeth White, Mars award winner


One of my favourites at the show was the Designer of the Year runner up, Alex Daniels‘ “Fuse”. Alex’s walking aid design addressed an un-glamorous design problem for the elderly or people with walking difficulties. The walking stick can split into two parts so it can be used as a pair of crutches for both hands or a walking stick for one hand. Simple and yet very practical.

Another innovative design that I really liked was Numa, designed by Dan Brooks, winner of Wilko Award for Innovation. Numa is a heatless clothes dryer that aims to bridge the gap between static airers and tumble dryers. It can dry up to 5kg of wet clothing 3 times faster than an airer and costs just 5p an hour to run. It has a top mounted fan that provides a constant flow of air around the garments and a dehumidifier that extracts moisture from the surrounding air. I would love to see this product being available in shops sometime in the future.

Mars award winner, Elizabeth White‘s “Grow” is a clever plastic sandal design where the sandal grows and adjusts in length and width with the child wearing it, using a loop system and detachable straps. The design answers a clear issue of children outgrowing their clothes and shoes too quickly, leaving parents to purchase new ones on a regular basis.


Camilla LambertDouglas PulmanGraham Friend Kit Shadbolt Camilla Lambert's Musical Interlude

Top left: Camilla Lambert, the Not on the high street associate prize; Top middle: Douglas Pulman, 100% Design winner; Top right: Graham Friend, winner of Procter & Gamble Award; Bottom left: Kit Shadbolt, John Lewis award winner; Bottom right: Camilla Lambert’s Musical Interlude


Winner of Procter & Gamble Award, Graham Friend has designed “Skypouch”, a smart solution to children’s travel. The ‘Skypouch’ consists of a waist component that is worn and adjusted by the adult prior to sitting down. The pouch itself once unfolded provides a seat for the baby and is secured to the parent’s waist. This removes the need for the parent’s arms/hands to be continuously occupied supporting the child.

Although we did not get to meet Camilla Lambert, I was drawn to the beautifully crafted acoustic iphone amplifiers by the Not on the high street associate prize winner. I also like her playful Musical Interlude (see above), which seems like a fun bench to sit on!


Joanna Mannix's Snug Collection IMG_9143Peter IvesonOliver Richardson's Kitchen TotemsClare Evens' Sense of makingLou LoIMG_9144wael seaiby Marjorie Artieres

Top left: Joanna Mannix‘s Snug Collection; 2nd row: Peter Iveson’s “Study Bright”; 3rd row left: Oliver Richardson’s Kitchen Totems; 3rd row middle: Sense of making by Clare Evans; 3rd row right: Lou Lo’s “11g of ground, 22g of ground”‘; Bottom left: Wael Seaiby’s Plag collection; Bottom right: Marjorie Artieres’s “Note by Note”


Elsewhere at the show, I was also intrigued by Peter Iveson‘s “Study Bright” (see above), a low cost alternative lighting solution for developing countries which allows children to study in complete darkness.

For those who love kitchen gadgets, Oliver Richardson‘s Kitchen Totems would certainly appeal to them. The sets of kitchen utensils can be stacked into totem-pole arrangements in the order they are likely to be required. Each of the Kitchen Totems are designed for kitchen rituals that take place at different times of the day. Besides the primary functions, the beautifully-crafted set would not look out of place in any modern kitchens.

For futuristic kitchen gadgets, Marjorie Artieres ‘s “Note by Note” offers a new laboratory for those passionate individuals who seek a theatre for cooking. It recaptures the heritage of true cooking by combining the physicality of the analogue with the precision of the digital. His set resembles apparatus from a chemistry lab than kitchenware, will this turn us into alchemists in the future?

Three designers who use waste innovatively to create new designs are Clare Evens, Wael Seaiby and Lou Lo. Clare Evens‘ has created a range of household products and glasses frames using the smallest ‘micro bead’, tiny particles of plastic found in exfoliating beauty products that end up being washed down the sink probably ending up in our seas, combined with the more obvious discarded sea rope or plastic bottles that are found in the sea or washed up on the shoreline.

Meanwhile, Wael Seaiby‘s “Plag” collection aims to challenge that notion by delivering a line of hand-worked vessels that are reminiscent of glass or ceramic craftsmanship using HDPE from recycled plastic bags. The vessels are evocative of the bags from which they stem; their smooth finish, along with their distorted shapes, are directly inspired by the physical aspects of the crinkly plastic bags.

Last but not least, Lou Lo‘s “11g of ground, 22g of ground” is designed to target the current disposable paper cup waste issue. The average cup of coffee uses 11 grams of coffee ground, and this is what the coffee ground turns into- “11g of ground, 22g of ground”. It is an alternative to the current system that saves up to 80% of paper. By making use of organic materials in the process, they are 100% biodegradable. “11g of ground, 22g of ground” also enhances the coffee drinking experience by its desirable features such as the distinctive coffee smell and the attention to detail in the design.


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Top: Beth Fox-Fuller’s ASDA packaging; Bottom: Robert Cooper


On the packaging front, I was attracted by Beth Fox-Fuller‘s fun ASDA “Count on me” packaging with cheeky slogans like “I’m a great catch” for smoked mackerel and “Bring me home” for bacon. The minimalist labels and catchy slogans create a personal touch between the consumer and the products, and I think they would most certainly ‘upgrade’ the image of ASDA.

Robert Cooper‘s Chocolate Airfix packs for Cadbury’s looks similar to a model aeroplane kits but actually it uses hollow-wafer technology to fill the shaped wafer sheet with chocolate. The pieces, which come in four different packs, can be stuck together to create a plane, a car, a horse or a dinosaur. I can imagine this being sold in supermarkets and being loved by kids. I wonder if Cadbury will consider manufacturing this or not? We shall wait and see.


LCC show & New Blood exhibition

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 London College of Communications’ Summer Show


This summer has been busier than ever, which means I have not had much time to write… this entry is another review of two summer graduation shows in London: London College of Communications and D & AD New Blood.

My friend, Seonyoung Song who studied Book Arts at the London College of Communications invited me to their private viewing at the Elephant and Castle campus on the night when England got knocked out of the World Cup! It was a fun evening, there was ball games, free booze (not the reason why I was there) and we watched the World Cup in the canteen followed by a visit to the Wetherspoon, the evening reminded me of the days when I was a student!


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Top left: Seonyoung Song (Book Arts and Design); Top middle: Eldon Pickles’ “Hagia Ikea” (Graphic and Media Design); Top right: Paige Cartledge (Surface Design); Bottom left: Laura Vanweydeveld’s 2015 Calendar (Interactive Moving Image); Bottom right: Marika Samek (Graphic and Media Design)


Seonyoung Song‘s project is about the South Korean’s ferry disaster. The long scroll is a compilation of the event’s news report at different times. The times are highlighted in bold and the scroll ends in a bucket of water.

In one small room, I was particularly intrigued by Eldon Pickles‘ “Hagia Ikea”, featuring colourful acrylic architectural sculptures. Inspired by Islamic design and AyaSophia Muzesi in Istanbul, the collection combines modern parametric design as an extension of Islamic geometry, with the vibrant neon hues of Post Modern Arabia.

Using the same acrylic material, Marika Samek‘s “Awaken” installation is inspired by the sounds of nature. The aim of this installation is to transform the organic, clear form of wood and translucent acrylic into a shimmering world of light, shadow, and brilliant colour. It is a metaphor for how Sound can integrate with other senses and create beautiful vision in the form of a vibrant picture.


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Top row: D & AD New Blood at Spitalfields Market; Main: One minute briefs


At the D & AD New Blood exhibition, a vast amount of work from recent graduates around the UK were showcased. One of the booths near the entrance was “One Minute Briefs“, a concept by Nick Entwistle & James Clancy at The Bank of Creativity, which aims to change the way people think about advertising.


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Top left: Adam Chescoe Top middle: Joseph Boadens paper card models; Top right: Kate Parkes’ Takeaway theatre; Bottom right: Emily Elvin’s “We need to talk about Sleep“.


The show featured a large range of graphics work including advertising, packaging, illustrations, poster designs, corporate identities, editorial and designs etc. Here are just some that caught my eye:

Adam Chescoe‘s YCN Fedrigoni Woodstock “Perpetual Deadline Calendar” is a desk calendar for Fedrigoni customers to promote the Woodstock paper range. The paper range made from 80% recycled pre-consumer waste and 20% FSC certified Virgin fibre. If I had a big desk, I would love to have this colourful calendar on my desk.

Kate Parkes“Takeaway theatre” is a flatpack cardboard theatre seat, in its takeaway packaging, designed to be a front row seat in one’s own, personal, theatre. The Takeaway Theatre event is a fictional collaboration between the National Theatre, Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company and homeless charity, Crisis. The performances become fundraisers for homeless charities.


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Top right: Josh Ross‘ illustrations; Bottom row left: Poster seen at the University of Leeds’ booth; Bottom row middle: Lukas Stasytis’ Playlist; Bottom row right: Toby Adams‘ “Diversity – The Cyril Diver Project”


Lukas Stasytis‘ “Playlist” is a project featuring visual representations of the most popular musical genres within the designer’s personal collection of electronica. The project’s outcomes include animations, a brochure, and a poster indicating where the individual genres emerged.


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Top left: Mandi Halonen’s Long Drink; Top right: Jonathan Walley’s Pilgrim’s choice


Mandi Halonen‘s rebranding project for the Finnish Long Drink was awarded the Best in Show award. The Finnish alcoholic drink was banned in Finland due to being considered ‘too tasty’
and ‘too drinkable’. The designer’s project focuses on its Scandinavian heritage through simple and nostalgic graphics, I especially love the poster’s slogan,  “So good, it got banned…”.

I also like Jonathan Walley‘s rebranding of the well known cheese/cheddar brand Pilgrims Choice. Very eye-catching and fun packaging.


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Top left: Caitlin Parks’ “The Great pacific Garbage Patch”; Top middle: Marianna Madriz’s children book illustrations, “Man from a golden land”; Top right: Sasha Moxon’s “My Grandfather’s war story” on 9 silk-screened postcards; Main: Helen Archer’s DIY artist book for sculptor, Kendall Buster; Bottom left: David Doran’s illustrations


Caitlin Parks‘ collection of striking bird illustrations are used in the campaign posters to bring awareness to the oceanic cause “The Great pacific Garbage Patch”. The aim is to highlight the horrific amount of plastic and human waste that ends up polluting and damaging the ocean’s ecosystem every year.

I also love Venezuelan illustrator, Marianna Madriz‘s nostalgic illustrations, especially her children’s book project, “Man from a golden land”, inspired by Venezuela and Latin American folklore musician Simón Díaz.

David Doran is an AOI award winner who graduated from Falmouth University this year. With a strong interest in traditional print techniques, his work explores textures and overlapping colour palettes. Often involving a sense of narrative with conceptual elements, he frequently employs figures and symbolism and his work has been featured in The New York Times, WIRED and Nobrow.



RCA show 2014

RCA show 2014

RCA show 2014 at their Kensington campus


There are many design graduation exhibitions in June and July but the RCA show is certainly one of the most popular one. The design industry is always looking for new talents, so this show is a good opportunity to meet the design stars of the future. There are two venues for the show, presenting the work of 575 post graduate students. I always seem to only manage to visit one, the Kensington venue because this alone would take up at least two hours!

Due to the huge amount of work on display, I probably skipped some fine stuff, the projects mentioned here are just some that stood out to me. If there is any info that is missing or incorrect, feel free to leave comments so that I can make amendments.

Mireia Gordi Vila‘s “Fragile explores packaging for shipping and created a flexible packaging system as a reusable companion to the packaged object rather than a disposable skin. It is an inquiry into the materiality and the typologies of transport packaging for valuable goods. Find out more about it via Dezeen.

Ayca Dundar‘s “Drop umbrella” re-examines the design of umbrellas (perhaps long overdue) and she came up with an umbrella that has a flexible and foldable structure that depends on material properties rather than hinges and joints. It offers a simple alternative to the complex structure of common umbrellas. When opened it has a unique organic shape with a surprising opening and closing movement. Find out more and watch a video on it via Dezeen.

I spoke to Alexandra Theunissen about her to toy-like display of “DYSsonance“, a project aiming to help dyslexic people understand, read, play and compose music. The “DYSsonance notation” is a graphical language based on colourful and simple shapes, which would aid a dyslexic person who is a visual thinker. An interesting concept and the end results look fun too.


Mireia Gordi Vila Chuhan LiangYen Chen Changyasuhiro suzukiJohanna Schmeergangjian cui Julian Melchiorri

Top left: Mireia Gordi Vila’s “Fragile”; Top right: Chuhan Liang’s “Rice Water project”; 2nd row left: Yen Chen Chang’s “Crafting electronics”; 2nd row middle: Yasuhiro Suzuki’s “Re-Cocoon”; 2nd row right: Johanna Schmeer’s “Bioplastic fantasy”; Bottom left: Gangjian Cui’s “The Rise of the Plasticsmith”; Bottom right: Julian Melchiorri’s “Silk leaf”


Chuhan Liang‘s Rice Water project examines how to turn ‘waste liquid’ into something more sustainable. The milky liquid left after washing rice has been used as a natural detergent for hundreds of years in eastern culture. Liang designed a series of tools for collecting and applying this, so that the liquid can be used as sustainable alternative of chemical detergents for domestic cleaning

Yen Chen Chang‘s project “Crafting electronics” is intriguing and fun! His project explores the combination of craft and electronics, and finding a balance in-between. One of his work is as grass carpet, which acts as a strokes sensor that controls a fan, and the harder you stroke on the grassy surface the stronger wind the fan generates. Another is a knitted ball/squeeze sensor which controls the juicer, and the harder you workout, the more orange juice you get later. Cool stuff! Find out more and watch a video of it via Dezeen.

Yasuhiro Suzuki‘s beautiful and organic-looking silk lampshades caught my eye at the show. The project, “Re-Cocoon” features lampshades directly moulded from silk cocoons through the use of a custom-built machine with a power drill that grabs strands from the cocoons placed below in a boiling pot of water. Find out more and watch a video of this via Designboom.

Johanna Schmeer‘s eye-catching installation, “Bioplastic Fantastic” investigates new types of products and interactions which might emerge from material innovations in the fields of bio- and nanotechnology. It speculates about the future design and use of domestic products made from enzyme-enhanced bioplastics. Find out more and watch a video on it via Dezeen.

I really like Gangjian Cui‘s concept behind the project, “The Rise of the Plasticsmith”. The project speculates on China’s post-industrial future, envisioning the rise of a new breed of post-industrial workers who will use plastic crafts to tell the glorious history of the industrial age. Find out more and watch a video on it via Designboom.

I was fascinated by Julian Melchiorri‘s “Silk Leaf & Exhale, an artificial leaf derived from silk protein and chloroplasts that absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen and biomass via the photosynthesis of stabilised chloroplasts in the silk protein.  Silk Leaf can generate more oxygen and biomass than a normal leaf, depending on the number of chloroplasts embedded in the silk.  Silk Leaf could be used as lights (see above) and architectural surfaces that provide air purification.


IMG_8760 Savvas Zinonosjiayu liuRCA show 2014suhee leeHyungchung KimIMG_8744 Peter Shenai

Top right: Savvas Zinonos’ “Voice boxes”; Main: Jiayu Liu’s “Within Invisibility”; 3rd row middle: Suhee Lee’s “Sound-writer”; 3rd row right: Hyungchung Kim’s “Kairos – Wind Sculpture; Bottom left: Chrysostomos Tsimourdagkas’s “London Temple”; Bottom right: Peter Shenai’s “Change ringing bells”


Aside from design products, many impressive projects could be found at the Darwin building by students from the Visual Communications, Information experience design and animation departments.

Savvas Zinonos‘ “Voice boxes (see above) is not only interesting to look at but it also trys to capture, document and contain every single movement of the mouth during speech production in a box. The designer is interested inthe process of speaking and communicating through translating it into different mediums and containing the ephemerality of speech in a physical space.

Chinese student, Jiayu Liu‘s (see above) “Within Invisibility” explores the connection between one’s perception of a city and its data. The multisensory experience was created via live wind data from 40 major Chinese cities, each represented by two fans. Wind speed change over the past six hours is proportionally condensed into six seconds, and visitors could feel the wind speed via the collected data.

Similar to Jiayu Liu (see above), Korean student, Hyunchung Kim‘s “Kairos – Wind Sculpture is also based on wind data. Viewers can watch the speed of the wind according to the real-time wind speed data feed from a selected city.

I had the opportunity to speak to another Korean student, Suhee Kim about her “Sound-water” project. Interestingly, Suhee converted an old typewriter into a musical instrument, and it was utterly strange and fun to hear sounds when I was encouraged to play with the typewriter. Very cool indeed!

Change Ringing” is a collaborative artwork (very Zen-like) by artist Peter Shenai and composer Laurence Osborn that forms around a playable sculpture, which doubles as a percussion instrument. The instrument incorporates a set of six bronze bells, each of whose shape mathematically corresponds to statistical sets derive from the increase in summer temperatures/climate change across the Northern Hemisphere over the last 100 years. The entire row of bells, therefore, constitute a ‘tone row’ that narrates the story of climate change through sound. The tone row provides the basis for a composition, written by Laurence, for ten players: nine solo string instruments and a percussionist playing the bells themselves. This composition, entitled ‘Change Ringing’, was performed at the LSO Soundhub Showcase on June 28th. I love this creative project and would love to attend their future performance in London!


Design Shanghai 2014

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The exterior of Shanghai exhibition centre


For my annual trip to Asia this year, I decided to skip Japan and opted for Singapore to visit Maison et objet Asia ( the first show outside of Paris) and Singapore design week. But I also wanted to make a trip to China to find out more about their current design scene… and I came across Design Shanghai 2014, which coincided with my dates, hence I decided to check out the event.

Before my trip, I found out that the event would be organised by Media 10 Ltd, a British company that organises 100% design, Ideal Home show and Clerkenwell Design Week etc. And judging from the show’s partners and collaborations ( and the involvement of many international-renowned designers and architects), it assured me that the event would be more international than local and of a certain standard.

And then I was in for some surprises, both good and bad…


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The interior of the Shanghai exhibition centre


My first surprise came when I arrived at the venue, which turned out to be conveniently located close to where I was staying (which was not planned) near the Former French Concession area. I was quite stunned when I saw this massive Soviet-style building/ complex, it was only later that I found out about its history. It was built in 1955 as the Sino-Soviet Friendship Building to commemorate the alliance between China and the Soviet Union, and was once the tallest building in Shanghai.

My second surprise came when I was inside the building, not only everything is opulent, but each room is completely different in style (slightly schizophrenic), while showcasing incredible architectural craftsmanship (very Soviet). I could not help but be amazed by the detail of the ceilings, columns and lighting etc, and was completely distracted from the exhibitors…


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Top left & right: Design talks by Sharon Leece, Editor at large, AD China, British/Hong Kong designer, Michael Young and Rossana Hu from Neri & Hu


My third surprise came when I started to wander around the exhibition halls, all the brands seemed surprisingly familiar… it turned out that probably 60% (my rough estimate) of the designers/ brands exhibiting were British, and the rest was split between other international brands like Alessi or Flos and local Chinese ones. Judging from the name of the show, I expected to see more Chinese brands, but this was not the case. I later spoke to a British lady was one of the organisers, and was told that the show aimed to introduce high-end British designer brands to the Chinese market. And due to the craftsmanship involved, the designs could not be easily copied either. She later laughed and said that if I was there to look for Chinese designs, then I was at the wrong show. Oops.


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Top left & main: Ceramics at X+Q; Top right: Shanghai skyscrapper candles by Naihan Li; Bottom middle: a & a; Bottom right: Pearl Lam gallery


I guess it wasn’t completely at a loss, as I did find the design seminars quite informative and interesting esp. the talk on Chinese design trends by Sharon Leece, the Editor at large of AD China. She spoke of the retail and interior trends in China and the new creative/ design hubs in cities like Chengdu, Dali and Guangzhou, which I did not know before the show. I also attended another seminar by Hong Kong based British designer, Michael Young and Rosanna Hu from Neri & Hu talking about their recent projects in China.


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 Ceramic work at Kaolin


The show featured mostly high-end and craft-based designs, and one of my favourite Chinese brands there was Kaolin. Kaolin is a creative studio, founded by a ceramic artist, a designer and a media expert in 2012, which aims to promote young domestic ceramic talents to a wider international audience. The ceramic designs are quite minimalistic but beautifully crafted, using traditional techniques and heritage but in a contemporary way.


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Top left: Pusu Lifetstyle; 2nd row left and bottom left: Neri & Hu; 2nd row middle & right: Zizaoshe; Bottom right: a bamboo forest installation


Neri & Hu is one of the most well-known and respected architectural design practice working in China today. The practice not only work on architectural projects, but they also design and produce furniture, lighting and tableware; and founded the high-end furniture and lifestyle store, Design Republic, one the first to introduce international designer products and furniture to China.

Neri & Hu products are hand made and often inspired by traditional and everyday objects found on the streets of Shanghai. Heritage, craftsmanship and materials are important elements in their designs (see above), and it is no surprise that their designs are one of the best representatives in the contemporary Chinese design world today.


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Crowds outside and inside of the exhibition centre in the weekends, and exhibitors had to use tapes to keep the crowds away


Finally, my last surprise took place when I tried to return to the show for a talk on Saturday. If I hadn’t got my badge on the first day (even then, I had to queue for 15 minutes), I probably would have ended up queuing all day long to get in! The massive queue outside went around the block, and it was almost impossible to walk towards the seminar room ( which happened to be situated at the end of one wing). The crowds were pushing, shoving and snapping away regardless of other people around them. When I was trying to push my way out of the building via the narrow passage lined with exhibition booths, all the booths had tapes in front of them to keep the crowds away. It was something that I have never seen before at any trade or design shows!

The problem with the show was not to do with the quality of the designs or exhibitors, but the fact that the organisers did not separate the trade or press people from the public. Usually the trade or press people would get access to the show or event a day or two before the public, it seemed rather odd to use a ‘free and open to all’ tactic because the show was completely chaotic and out of control in the weekend. This arrangement also made it difficult for trade people to enquire information from the designers or companies (even on the first day). Meanwhile, I also received rude treatment by one of Chinese exhibitors when I tried to pick up a business card, probably because he thought I was just a random person from the public. This was really the last thing I expected from exhibitors who were there to ‘sell’ their work. And from what I saw, the majority of public there were not really interested in design, all they cared about was a free event where they could hang out, snap away in order to share on Weibo and seek freebies.

This is China after all, applying the British/international standard would not work here. Perhaps the organisers need more research into the behavioural patterns of the local Chinese before attempting to sell design to the Chinese market. I hope they will learn from this lesson and avoid the mishaps next year.


New designers 2013

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Main: Part 2 of the New designers 2013 at Islington Design Business Centre; Bottom left: A table for two by Daniel Liss


I have visited the New designers shows a few times and it is always a good event to spot new design talents from the U.K. This year, I visited Part two of the show which featured product and furniture design, spatial Design and visual communication by design graduates from universities across the country.

With so much work and not much time, it was hard to cover everything ( I certainly couldn’t), here are just some of the ones that caught my eye at the show:


“A table for two” ( see above) by Daniel Liss is a simple idea that allow users to convert a basic dining table that accommodates six, to a complete workstation with fully retractable drawers and a surface divider for two. It is not a ground-breaking invention but it is a clever solution that is practical for contemporary living.

Right next to this was Tyrone Stoddart‘s “Boxed” ( see below), a piece of multi-functional and adaptable furniture, which can be a coffee table, a desk, two stools and a lamp. These parts can all collapse back down to their most basic form, to be returned to a case that can be carried around. Cool!


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Top left: Boxed by Tyrone Stoddart; top middle: Tyrone Chan’s Interactive dab radio; Mihaela Ogarca’s lighting; bottom left: Sean Bunton’s flat-pack bicycle



Mihaela Ogarca‘s ( see above) lighting collection won her the New Designers John Lewis Award for Design Excellence and Innovation. These lampscan be free standing or used as pendants. Through laser cutting, the usually stiff plywood material, used for the lights, becomes springy and curvaceous whilst allowing the light to pass through it. The shades can also be assembled and disassembled by the user and be carried as flat packs.


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Top left: The tea manifesto by Shumaiya Khan; top right: Lilian Hipolyte Mushi; Main: Stephanie Jedek; bottom right: Giho Yang’s foldable cylander



Giho Yang‘s foldable cylander “Water-drop” ( see above) is a long overdue redesign of a kitchen item that often occupies a lot of space in the cupboard. This simple and clever design solves this problem and allows the colander to fold and be stored flat in the cupboard. This is so functional and I would definitely purchase it if it comes out in the market!


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Left: Jack Fisher’s 180 series; Right: Egg cup by Michal Mojduszka


Being a stationery lover, I often get excited when I see beautiful stationery still being made these days ( esp. when technology seem to dominate our lives). I love Jack Fisher‘s “180 SERIES”, a set of contemporary stationery made from a unique blend of ceramic and brass. The triangular shape provides a unified identity and is based on its ergonomic advantages.

I also like the simplicity of the “Egg cup” by Michal Mojduszka, which is a basically a ceramic container for an egg. You break the egg shell simply by shaking it, a fun product/ project.


Nick Brennan‘s “Sound pegs” can turn anything into a musical instrument! By attaching the unit to a computer running music software or an electronic instrument, then attach the pegs to different objects. Sounds will be triggered in the software/instrument when drumming on those objects, so even your shoe or pen can create different sounds. Fun stuff!