London Design Festival 2017 highlights

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Hi! U.K. finch Albaquirky here taking over the blog... Each September in London there is a city wide Design Festival called the 'London Design Festival'.  It has grown over the years and is a very big event now in it's fifteenth year.  Brands use it to profile new lines and start-up companies use it to launch, along with all sorts of exhibitions and quirky installations related to design. It is always on my calendar to visit! As a designer I can get lots of inspiration and find out about new trends in contemporary surface design and more broadly interiors and home decor.  I wanted to share some highlights of the show with you in this blog...

Installation at Graham & Brown's 'House of Wallpaper' in Soho.

Installation at Graham & Brown's 'House of Wallpaper' in Soho.

So lets put on our pattern hunting shoes and head off to be inspired!  

Turkishceramics present 'Gateways' by Adam Nathaniel Furman

Turkishceramics present 'Gateways' by Adam Nathaniel Furman

My first stop was Granary Square, in the Kings Cross area.  The building you see behind these amazing gateways by turkishceramics is Central Saint Martins College of Art and this area often has something interesting going on for those with an interest in the arts. The gateways were clad in ceramic tiles and the designs were celebrating the history of Turkish ceramics.

One of the main shows in this area is Design Junction, focusing on contemporary interior design. Lots of big brands profile new collections here, but my favourite section is where some of the smaller up and coming designers and businesses show their work in the 'canopy' area of Granary Square. A couple of stands that caught my eye were Laura Spring's bold bright geos and Granby workshop's 'Splatware' ceramics launch.

Laura Spring's booth (left) and Granby Workshop's 'splatware' (right)

Laura Spring's booth (left) and Granby Workshop's 'splatware' (right)

There were lots of fresh takes on geometrics at Design Junction, broken and fragmented lines, new takes on Terrazo and textured, fragmented, abstract Geos trending. The pink and green colour scheme you see in some of Laura Spring's work was absolutely huge in many of the shows at the festival. 

Timorous Beasties shop window

Timorous Beasties shop window

The next stop was Timorous Beasties shop in Clerkenwell, where they had a collection launch. Timorous Beasties are a brand who are massively inspirational to me as a designer, with their bold, quirky signature designs and their Scottish roots.  Like many I discovered their work through their innovative and ironic design 'Glasgow Toile' created in 2004.  They were founded in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, working from Glasgow on wallpaper and interior textile pattern designs and they are still based there today, but now retail internationally. I spent a lovely long time in their shop rummaging through the collections and chatting with the shop manager about the work and business. I'm in love with their new 'Urban Jungle' collection – these boys go from strength to strength!

On display at Timorous Beasties

On display at Timorous Beasties

Following on from some swooning in Timorous Beasties, I headed East to Broadgate to see if Camille Walala could bring me to my senses...

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Camille Walala trained as a textile designer, but is now more well known for her installations and immersive pattern based experiences. She had taken over a public square and gone to town with her fun, bright, bold designs!

Villa Walala by Camille Walala

Villa Walala by Camille Walala

Continuing East I headed on to the London Design Fair.  This is another big exhibition previewing collections from loads of exciting brands. I was lucky enough to have work on show at this festival two years ago when Feathr showcased some of their wallpaper collection including my 'Machair' design. There were over 500 exhibitors at the show this year, so I will share only a few highlights and trend observations!

Tropical leaves - on the festival map (left), in pots all over the show, on the classy display at the Tuppence Collective booth (middle) and in the Cole & Son 'Fabric Fantasia' installation.

Tropical leaves - on the festival map (left), in pots all over the show, on the classy display at the Tuppence Collective booth (middle) and in the Cole & Son 'Fabric Fantasia' installation.

First up - tropical leaves, they were everywhere! Monsteras (thats a Cheese Plant to us Brits) are STILL massive, but I was also seeing palm leaves, rubber plants, banana leaves... the jungle feel was very real.

Pink and green - Bujnie (left), Hilary Grant (middle) and Linwood (right)

Pink and green - Bujnie (left), Hilary Grant (middle) and Linwood (right)

Secondly - pink and green were huge! They were showing up in various shades on almost every booth.  I loved funky, modern, geometric steel work of Polish brand Bujnie - my house needs some of these wall planters! As always the Scottish exhibition area was delivering beautiful design from the North - Hilary Grant's contemporary knitted textiles were stunningly stylish. I was impressed both with the bold and intricate geometric wallpaper and textile designs on display at the Linwood booth.

New geometrics - Custhom (left), Half Drop (middle) and Alissa + Nienke (right)

New geometrics - Custhom (left), Half Drop (middle) and Alissa + Nienke (right)

Lastly new takes on geometrics were on show in lots of places.  Memphis style has evolved and gone all sophisticated and grown up! Custhom were offering a bold minimal take with their beautiful embroidered textiles and wall-coverings.  I enjoyed Romanian brand Half-Drop's contemporary take on traditional patterns. The geometric patterns in the 3D wallpaper of Alissa + Nienke were intriguing and slightly disorientating in a Bridget Riley op-art sort of way! 

Time check...

Time check...

With an hour to go before the festival closed for the evening we hot footed it over to Soho to check out Graham and Brown's 'House of Wallpaper'.  They had taken over a building to share their story and collections.  I loved how this metalic geometric worked on the stairs.

Graham & Brown - House of Wallpaper

Graham & Brown - House of Wallpaper

Conveniently located a few doors up from the House of Wallpaper was our last stop for the day... Milroys of Soho; a bar dedicated to Whisky. I think I'd earned a wee dram after chasing pattern inspiration all over town!

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