designjunction showcases the most innovative and upcoming interiors, furniture, lighting and product design as part of London Design Festival, and I was lucky enough to visit their opening night party last week (thanks to being part of such a supportive girl gang such as The Coven).
I have to come clean and get off my chest right now that interiors and product design have never really been one of my top interests when it comes to artistic, fashion and trend knowledge. I’ve always found it difficult to really look at a futuristic chair or an extravagant light fitting and see something truly remarkable, aside from interests in anything typically aesthetically pleasing or comfortable-looking, velvet, pink, marble or kitsch – someone find me a design exhibit that showcases all of these characteristics and I’m there.
However, visiting designjunction showed me a new way of looking at contemporary design and the way it will be forming our future lifestyles. So here is a blogger-esque round-up of innovative future concepts that I encountered wandering around Southbank in what I’m pretty sure was some part of Storm Ali.
Connection with space
The Rado Star Prize stand showcased the finalists in the hunt for the next generation of British design talent, and Chloé Durán Stone‘s entry was the first piece I was drawn to. Titled SAAS (meaning ‘light’ in Mayan language), the sculptural shelf unit is intended to enhance users’ connection to their functional interiors, and evoke sensory reactions, emotion and curiosity.
Chloé intends to “create a stronger relationship between the users, the space and the furniture”, insisting that the pieces we choose to have in our homes should go beyond function and “enhance” the space in more personal ways. The acrylic elements of the unit can be rearranged into different compositions, meaning the piece is adaptable to different spaces, lifestyles and uses. The translucent material reflects light and colour into the space it is in, meaning the position, lighting and even time in the room will affect how the piece is perceived.
At a time when we as consumers are constantly demanding more, and have lives and interests that many brands and designers just cannot keep up with (let alone ourselves), it is no surprise that a shelving unit that is not just a shelving unit! but an adaptable extension of our home, mood and self, has grabbed so much attention.
Corridor Society is a collection by Seray Ozdemir, reclaiming the “archaic corridor as the pivotal social space of the shared domestic realm”. A collection born out of the awareness of co-living (flatsharing, essentially) with city dwellers, Ozdemir comments on the need for reappropriation of spaces, particularly in London – landlords transform living rooms into yet another bedroom, kitchens are too small to act as a dining space and thus flatmates are forced to hide away in their rooms for lack of comfortable communal areas.
“Tenants use their beds as sofas, dining tables and living rooms which is actually a condition encouraging isolation and anti-social behaviour.” – Seray Ozdemir
I mean, I am typing this hunched over on my bed in my prison cell-sized bedroom at this very moment, because our living room is too small to fit a sofa in and I had to remove my desk from the flat for fear of it, too, growing mould like 70% of our other belongings. So lets just say, I get this project.
This Multi Level Lounger is designed specifically to fit in and be used in corridor spaces, featuring two seating areas and a coat rack. The collection also includes a Standing Sofa, which is a selection of cushions that attach to the wall. The cushions are varied in shapes and sizes to accommodate different leaning postures and positions, encouraging people to slow down and linger in corridor spaces for conversation.
Sign me up so I can finally eat my breakfast at a chair.
I am well aware that “it’s pretty, what is it for though?” ceramics are not a particularly new development in fine art and design, but Swiss designer Dimitri Bähler’s VPTC ceramics apply precise, patterned imprints to his pieces with textured latex foil. The ceramics are simply solid “volumes” with no named function, but the project aims to merge functionality and non-functionality, letting the user decide what the object is designed for. “Questioning the concept of usefulness in our homes.”
Slowosophy was another design brand producing ceramics for slow, thoughtful living. Priding themselves on timeless style, their focus on lasting products and simple, bright colour palettes is refreshing in our throwaway culture, where even useful homewares are discarded prematurely.
“We create collections that are built to last and will become an intimate part of your everyday life. Uncomplicated products, to bring you joy.” – Slowosophy
Rise of the “design cafe”
An interesting addition to designjunction’s space at Doon Street was a cafe hosted by Elle Decoration, working with speciality coffee company Workshop Coffee. The space looked similar to the artisanal coffee shops your typical millenial might frequent already, the kind we will go to alone, order an oat milk flat white at and then sit on an uncomfortable wooden stool and instagram a picture of it (I still do this exact thing and I work in one).
At first glance, one might not see anything very different about the space, but the cafe was an interior design haven, featuring minimalist wooden furniture from Danish brand Frama, construction-esque shelving by String, and high quality coffeeware from dignified Japanese brand Kinto. I even spotted several bits and pieces I’ve been admiring for months dotted about on the shelves. Like the true coffee nerd I am growing to be.
Design cafes have been popping up for a while now — like igigi in Hove; cafes that pride themselves on delivering high quality coffee and rustic, curated interiors. They feel like a development from the growth of speciality and artisanal coffee brands — suddenly it wasn’t enough just to care about the coffee. People need a space that is an extension of the coffee. Perhaps this is a reflection of the need for us to live a little slower, to take time in the day to appreciate our surroundings – in urbanised areas, coffee shops are actually probably the only place we can not feel guilty for allowing ourselves to do that. It is an hour, half an hour, maybe only ten minutes, that are reserved for enjoying a cup of something hot, syrupy and caffeinated that we have bought with our own hard-earned pounds. So providing the space with well designed furniture and drinkware allows cafes to heighten this experience.
Not only that, but it’s totally instagrammable.
All photos by the author of designer’s work at designjunction 2018. Featured image of Dimitri Bähler’s VPTC ceramics.