LDF19: London Design Fair

Returning for another year, London Design Fair is the largest trade destination during LDF, welcoming creatives and enthusiasts from all over the globe to the iconic Old Truman Brewery to celebrate the industry in all its glory. With the addition of new international exhibitors, the fair proves that its authoritative position as a ‘must-see’ show during LDF is fully justified.

Every year, stand-out trends that are predicted to infiltrate the industry over the next year triumph, and this year is no different. However, the topic of sustainability very much hogs the spotlight, with brands championing their eco-credentials more than ever – Biomaterials is this year’s ‘Material of the Year’. Very much reflective of society’s current efforts to be less wasteful, recycle more and to reduce household energy, there is a clear shift with so many brands seemingly stepping up to the plate. It is clear that the design world is taking sustainability seriously and it is so encouraging to see that so many brands are going in the right direction with it.

After walking the length and breadth of the fair, we’ve put together our highlights from the show starting with the spectacularly bold showcase from Floor Story. Collaborating with designers like John Booth, the stand has the brightest display of wild and wacky rug designs you’ll probably ever see, which is, of course, causing a huge (positive) stir and is simply brilliant. As expected, the Scandinavians are back with a (cool) vengeance, bringing with them brands like Mizetto who showcase their ‘BinThere’ collection, proving that bins can actually be a design feature (yes really!) Inspired by nature, the products embraced forest greens and naturally tanned leather which frankly blows most bins out of the water!

Excitingly, Design Fair welcomed three new nations this year – Hungary, the Czech Republic and the UAE. Previously relatively understated in the design sphere, this new venture is a positive representation of how design brings communities and cultures from all over the world together to celebrate the ever-growing industry. Hungary’s ‘Budapest Select’, curated by Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency (HFDA) – founded in 2018 in response to the urgent need to embrace national fashion and the design industry – exhibited distinctive objects that aimed to surpass the pure representation of forms and materials through a variety of talented design houses.

The Czech Republic’s ‘United Crafts of Bohemia’ exhibition presents a curated selection of Czech brands representing high-quality craftsmanship that speaks to the country’s heritage. Organised by the business agency Czech Trade and co-financed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the pavilion presents a melange of glass, lighting, furniture and technology from leading brands. Celebrating some of the best Emirati creative talents, the ‘Objects of the Past: Today’ gave designers the opportunity to bring to life products and pieces using modern-day design methodologies and processes, showcasing contemporary interpretations of items that held great value to nomadic families from the past. A beautiful considered showcase.

With sustainability very much at the heart of the show this year, this gave designers a springboard to experiment with all sorts of interesting materials to create some pretty spectacular products. With this in mind, we spotted some lighting solutions that really stood out. Uruguyan designer Carolina Palombo’s collection, which were handcrafted fusing woodwork with basketry and a trio of woven textiles, blended texture beautifully. Similarly, Max Jacquard’s ‘Semazen Series’ of glass lights, each a unique exploration of the forms of sound waves captured in optical crystal.

We can’t really talk about sustainability and lighting without mentioning Barcelona-based Creare Studio, who creates the most incredible lights with the ever-unassuming material, papier-mâché. Although the term ‘papier-mâché’ may instantly bring back memories of school projects, these products are by no means child’s play. Handcrafted by designers, Maria Fiter and Marco Miglorisi, each has a different story behind it, which talk about their inspirations to create them.

In a time of uncertainty across so many industries, London Design Fair is a brilliant representation of how the design community continues to grow together in a united way. The presence and investment of first-time countries is a positive step forward for the world of design.