London Design Festival, day 2: Floristry, craft and minimalist tech 22.09.15

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At LDF today, we’ve been on the look-out for design with a clear purpose, as well as pondering the literary choices of some of our favourite creatives

Amid the spectacle of installations and luxury products, it’s always refreshing to come across an exhibition or design that addresses real-world problems. Among these at LDF this year is 2°C, a display of ten ideas to improve public communication about climate change at the Aram Gallery – recently reopened under the stewardship of former Icon senior editor Riya Patel.

Produced in collaboration with Disegno and Universal Design Studio (the architecture arm of Barber Osgerby), the show presents designs by, among others, Shanghai-based architecture practice Neri & Hu, artist Dominic Wilcox, designer Ross Lovegrove, Fabrica creative director Sam Baron and the winner of yesterday’s Swarovski Emerging Talent Medal (and cover star of our next issue) Marjan van Aubel. Van Aubel is showing close-up images of the materials used to produce her designs, while Baron has made a hanging mobile with a candle on one end and plant in water on the other – an invitation to consider how easily our delicately balanced environment can be disrupted. Wilcox designed a poster of his typically irreverent drawings that ridicule our approach to climate change.

Over in Shoreditch, hipster hangout the Ace Hotel is also showing a range of products that seek to tackle a real need, albeit not one as serious as those of the environment. Curated by the Modern Design Review, the exhibition was a direct response to a list of items that the hotel was planning to purchase, and includes a conical, spinning copper ashtray by Tomas Alonso (it will develop a nice patina when used outside, he says), a stacking stool by Philippe Malouin, a mountain-like installation for the restaurant lobby by Hilda Hellström (to save the hotel from continually replacing flowers in a vase), as well as items for the shop, such as fresh RCA graduate Parsha Gerayesh’s bendy stainless steel glasses and Marcin Rusak’s jewellery made of resin and waste flowers (the flower industry embodies many of the same problems as the food production sector, he says, but gets much less attention for it).

Rusak might want to tap up Lee Broom’s showroom around the corner for his next batch of raw materials – the designer is displaying the collection he launched in Milan, as well as a new collection of mix-and-matchable vases and marble bases in a typically stylish environment designed to resemble a flower shop. It is perhaps unsurprising that, for a designer who places such weight on presentation, Lee Broom’s favourite book is Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. This is revealed in an installation on the same road as his studio by furniture brand Deadgood, which presents the literary picks of a selection of design luminaries, including Ilse Crawford (A Happy Death by Albert Camus), Bethan Laura Wood (Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch), Thomas Heatherwick (James Wines’ De-Architecture) and Marcel Wanders (A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilbers). Drop in to pick up some handy conversation starters for when you bump into one of them at a party this week.

Not far from there, furniture brand Benchmark is co-hosting an exhibition with trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory about industrial craft, with designers such as Max Lamb, Lindsey Adelman, Kiki van Eijk among others considering the value of the word “craft”. At the launch, Lamb – whose installation My Grandfather’s Tree is on display at Somerset House – discussed his approach to making: “Relationships and learning from craftsmen and engineers is the essence of what I do – I need to see things into the real third dimension, not the virtual one.”

There is, of course, plenty more to keep you busy in Shoreditch, so you may want to pause for a bite at some point stage. Yesterday, we stopped off at Lyle’s Restaurant, which has launched a special lunchtime menu running throughout LDF – made in British-designed Crane cookware, Lazy Eye Ceramics and Owen Wall dishes, at a Very Good & Proper bespoke table.

Finally, we were excited to see the launch yesterday of our latest obsession: the Jasper Morrison-designed MP01 phone for Punkt. at Somerset House (on display for the rest of the week). The pared down mobile device makes calls, sends texts and has an alarm – and that’s it. Could this be the start of something? Read more about it in our current issue.

For more LDF highlights, pick up a copy of Icon’s current issue



Debika Ray, with additional reporting by the Icon team


Above: Lee Broom's Podium collection

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Relationships and learning from craftsmen and engineers is the essence of what I do – I need to see things into the real third dimension, not the virtual one

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