Saturday, 20 September 2008

100% Design 2008

Just wanted to jot down my thoughts on today's visit to the 100% Design exhibition in Earl's Court, London, before I visit a whole load more exhibitions tomorrow and the whole thing becomes a whirling design blur in my head. Next week I plan to make some sort of sense of everything I've seen (and file my multitude of leaflets and brochures somewhere other than around my feet by my desk) but that'll have to wait for now.

Despite the event's corporate overtones (think stalls manned by salesmen wearing ill-fitting suits trying to flog light fittings), there was a surprising amount of original and innovative design on show from both bigger brands such as Umbra, and a plethora of new/graduate designers and small design companies. A highlight for me was the Lighten Up exhibit, in association with (Re)Design, showcasing a highly craft-hacker-ey array of lighting made from anything from bottle tops to vintage lace. Favourite pieces included lampshades made from lace remnants fused with plastic milk bottles, by Lizzie Lee (see pic below), and the Beryl and Friends range by design group WEmake, featuring vintage lights shrink-wrapped in plastic to create an ethereal, Miss Haversham-esque vibe.

General trends emerging from the show included an influx of sustainable design (the message seems to be getting stronger and stronger each year) and a hark back to handicrafts reinterpreted for the 21st Century - think delicate lace cut-outs reinterpreted with a stronger silhouette sheet in sheet metal and felt (see Michelle Mason's Stella rug, below). Texture within wall finishes was also big news, with stunning handmade (and often eco-friendly) wallpapers in abundance.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Let's get things started...

I'm going to try and add a few images and links to get things on the road... have no idea how to do this so let's see if I can figure it out...

Anyhoo, I thought I'd begin with a few pictures from my own archives to illustrate some of my own Craft Hacks. As London Design Week 2008 is getting ready to open its doors to a myriad of new design talent, I'm planning to get some images and reviews up here on my favourites, so seems best to add my efforts in now before I'm completely upstaged...

1. Lampshade Jumper : A friend passed on this rather lovely crochet top to me, but it somehow always made me feel a bit 'bulky', and as such spent much of its life languishing at the back of the wardrobe. One evening I was gazing up with annoyance at my previous lampshade, which served no function other than to obscure most of the light in my already rather gloomy bedroom, when inspiration struck. By using the existing framework from my old lampshade, I hand-stitched the top (pre-cut to below the sleeve) to the upper frame, and allowed the original bottom trim of the jumper to form a rather sweet fringing around the bottom framework (also hand-stitched in place). The result is an original lightshade, me no longer leaving the house with blotchy blusher as I can actually see to apply make-up now, and I even have enough remnants left over for a follow-on project. Hurrah!

2. Oriental Fishtank : When Ben, our antipodean housemate, arrived home with a donated tropical aquarium, much excitement was felt around the homestead. However, excitement soon turned into abject distress when I realised that said aquarium was fully integrated into a black ash-effect melamine base unit. A quick rummage through my ever-increasing collection of unused wallpaper samples, however, turned up this little trump card - a stunning, subtle oriental design picked up in trusty B&Q. By simply taking off the door handles, cutting the paper to size and sticking it down with some double-sided tape, the 1980's throwback is transformed into a bijou little home for our aquatic friends.

3. Quaker Oats Tin : A little example of some upcycling - one of my favourite terms and something we should all aspire to do a little more of - in essence, taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value. This mini-project is a fairly simple interpretation of it, inspired by the wonderful tropical gardens seen on a visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall. I love the idea of repurposing items and using them outside of their original intended use. What else could you use as an indoor planter - an old teapot? A milk bottle? Old bean tins, spraypainted or decorated with some fabric offcuts?