Graphic design feels like it has become an increasing influence in the world of interiors and London Design Festival is just the proof required to show how colour and patten has seemingly began its journey to takeover the furniture scene. I don’t know whether it’s the revival of designers in furniture companies such as Alexander Gerard at Vitra or Etoile Sottsass at Hay, but graphic patterns seem to be all over the place right now, paving the way for future stars such as Camille Walala, Kate Moross, Patternity, Eley Kishimoto and plenty more young doodle lovin’ bohemians.
At both designjunction and London Design Fair it was even apparent in the stands themselves with brands such as deadgood, Alexander Mueller, Kirby design and Bethan Gray all taking on a very graphic backdrop, enticing those social media shots that I must admit, I’m a fool for. It’s a pleasure to see the likes of Walala and Patternity collaborating all over the place and quite frankly I can’t wait to see where this trend is going – goodbye muted palettes? In the spirit of all things graphic I’ve picked out my top five installations / products that really got my creative juices flowing.
1 // Lee Broom ‘Opticality’
Inspired by Broom’s early 90s bedroom, Opticality was a showcase of Op Art lighting in which space had no boundaries due to the very clever use of mirrors and stripes. Large spherical lights from the Optical light collection filled the room at Broom’s Shoreditch base and clearly you can see the popularity of the installation from just one glance at the #LDF16 hashtag. The Op Art aesthetic is of course a very strong one but as always Broom took things to another level with his use of the monochrome linear pattern to make it look like an endless corridor of 1960s graphics. My only regret of London Design Festival? Not wearing black and white on my visit!
2 // Blend by Raw Colour at The Aram Gallery
Blend by Raw Color takes on a less obvious approach to graphic design and instead combines research and experimentation to work with materials and colour in a multi-disciplinary environment. The completed works all differ in outcome and while projects such as the Index Collection offer a blocky graphic representation, others such as The Fans experiment with motion and interaction instead. While I did love the immersive nature of Chromatology (as pictured) where paper shredders produced colourful paper rain upon the presence of a visitor, I have to say on reflection that my absolute favourite project was Graphic Time where a series of kinetic abstract clocks dominated the walls. Each clock takes on a different approach to telling the time, with beautiful visual compositions and an absolutely honest yet slightly tricky approach to time-telling, pattern and design. Luckily for you (and me), this exhibition is around for a little longer and I 100% recommend checking it out.
3 // Yinka Ilori at Clerkenwell London
I originally went to Clerkenwell London in search of the Camille Walala Vinyl room and as wonderful as it was (who doesn’t want Walala and vinyl?), it was actually Yinka Ilori’s installation A Swimming Pool of Dreams that took me completely by surprise. Three patterned ‘swimming pools’ filled the downstairs area, celebrating Yinka’s childhood visits to Margate seaside and telling the story of family friends from his family church being granted their desires and dreams. The combination of vibrant up-cycled chairs with the patterned gird flooring really spoke to me and I left with the desire to paint some floor tiles and enrol on one of Yinka’s chair revival workshops.
4 // Re-thinking Revive by Natuzzi. Starring Camille Walala, Patternity and Eley Kishimoto
It’s amazing to see traditional brands thinking outside of the box and that’s exactly what Italian furniture brand Natuzzi were doing when collaborating with designers Camille Walala, Eley Kishimoto and Patternity. The three pattern masters were asked to reimagine the Re-vive chair by bringing their own values and essence to it, but while also maintaining the ethos of harmonious living that Natuzzi wish to bring to their own designs. I always like to see alternate responses to a set brief so this project really made me think about the process each designer went through to reinterpret the original piece, as well as also opening my eyes to the beautiful designs Natuzzi offer themselves.
5 // Hannah Waldron at SCP
SCP was full of colourful delights thanks to its exhibition of contemporary Mexican craft and totem form Donna Wilson, but for me it was Hannah Waldron’s collection of one-off tapestries, titled Triennale that really caught my attention. The trio of hand-woven pieces were inspired by a trip to Japan, where Waldron documented abstract details noted from the window of a Japanese bullet train. The resulting forms offer a visual diary of the journey while also providing a satisfactory geometric finish for all of those shape lovers amongst us.