London Design Festival: Love at First Sight

I always think of September as the start to a new year. It feels like a fresh start, especially with the children back at school and everyone moving ahead with all the plans they made over the summer. Closets are filled with new school uniforms and new pencils and pens are packed away in rucksacks that have been empty for weeks. It only seems right, then, that September also brings with it the excited flurry that is the London Design Festival. For 10 days, designs shows are scattered across London like school orientation programmes and the show draws in designers, press, bloggers and interiors experts from all across Europe to see what’s new and sexy. I always look forward to kicking off autumn with the shows and this year did not disappoint. 

I kept my design show visits to a manageable two shows this year. As the minimalists say, "less is more!" I visited Design Junction, which is one of my favourites from past years, and ventured out into the unknown and visited Tent for the first time. 

When I look back at the things I loved most from this year’s selection, I find myself coming back time and time again to the craftspeople who are thinking outside the box and designing really interesting pieces. Their products show skill and the clever ability to elevate simple things into something really sexy. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love to support craftspeople who are doing new and exciting work and I hope my 10 favourite #LDF16 products that I share below will make you gasp with delight just as I did when I first laid eyes on them. 

1. Kirkby Design has created a fantastic 3D Quilted Velvet called Cloud FR which comes in 28 diverse colours. This fabric will make even the humblest chair or sofa seem like something decadent by giving it a deep upholstered look that's just as squishy as it elegant. I could snuggle on this sofa for hours! 

Design House Stockholm really caught my eye at the show, especially with the Wick Chair and the Knot Cushion:

2. The Wick Chair, designed by Karl Malmvall and Jesper Ståhl, may seem like a simple chair but it's cleverly made of plaited wood and it immediately caught my eye. For me, this is the perfect chair for dining spaces– especially as it’s the back of a dining room chair that you see when the chair is pushed into the table, so it’s great to see designers having fun with the view from the back. I love it when the right product seems to find me at just the right time and since seeing this show, I'm very keen to use it in a project I'm working on that it will be perfect for! 

3. The second lust-worthy item from Design House Stockholm is the Knot Cushion, designed by Ragnheiður Ösp Sigurðardóttir. These clever cushions are, as the name suggests, a tube of stuffed knitting looped together into a knot. They come in lovely soft colours and are the perfect little ball of fun for beds, chairs and sofas. I’ve treated myself to two pink ones and if you’d like one for yourself, you can get one (or two!) from Really Well Made

4. I couldn’t choose just one product from designer Bethan Gray, so I’ve chosen the entire collection as one of my favourites. I mean, my goodness! This company is producing some truly elegant and clever furniture. Each piece is a work of art and would elevate any interior to the chicest space. From the metal-tipped legs on delicate tables to stunning sideboards with brass inlay over ombré teal wood stain, it all was amazing! Check out more of her work online and prepare to fall in love! 

5. I found Ist London’s fine porcelain in the product halls at Design Junction and was immediately like a kid in a candy store. The delicate porcelain is so light and pretty with simple, elegant shapes that made me want to cover my entire table with them. They’re so sweet but also feel very grown up. 

I love design that pushes the boundaries of a particular medium and opens a designer to a cool new audience, and I think these next two products really show designers doing this at the very best way. 

6. This isn’t the first time that I’ve talked about Janie Knitted Textiles (you may remember her from this recent post), and I’m somehow sure that it won’t be the last, either. These pendant lights are made by spinning a thick wool thread over a metal frame and then dip-dying the bottom of the wool-covered structure in a beautiful colour. The scale of these lights make the feat all the more impressive and I think these pieces would look great during day or night in many homes. 

7. Charlene Mullen kept it monochrome on her stand at LDF. The tiny details in her embroidery are exquisite and the hours of work that went into making these embroidered lampshades and fabrics elevates them into truly striking pieces. 

A side table doesn’t have to just be a side table and these two designs are proof! 

8. Zoe Murphy’s upcycles retro pieces with her unique paintings. I’m normally not a big fan of upcycling, but I feel her work really brings something more to the original piece and she really does turn each one into a one-off piece of art. 

9. Alexander Mueller also keeps a certain amount of the natural wood exposed in his products. The crisp stains on the edges of the bookcase and the far end of the table in the picture above (right) make his pieces extra special. 

10. The final showstopper from my trip to London Design Festival comes from Glassworks by designer Matteo Gonet. This beautiful chandelier made of a cluster of delicate glass balloons was jaw-dropping from the graceful strings that fastening them together to the lone balloon that lay as if it had actually drifted to the floor. They were displayed at the show in beautiful white glass, but I’d love to experiment with the colour options to fill a space with lots of fun. 

Just like the start to a new school year, the London Design Festival is a fantastic September ritual. Take a look at some of my favourite things from my visits to LDF last year and in 2014.  

All photos by Smartstyle Interiors.