The V&A had completely inspired us through some truly captivating experiences and we were genuinely intrigued to see whether the trend that was emerging of ‘changing perceptions’ continued through the festival in Central and East London.
Opticality, Lee Broom
Using his latest product to create an enticing takeover of his London showroom, Lee Broom provides a hypnotic experience which seems to resonate with an Alice in Wonderland inspired world. The monochromatic patterns of his pendant lights with the cleverly positioned infinity mirrors combine to generate a 360-degree optical illusion which you as a visitor are truly a part of. Intrigued passers-by peer in through the door where staff control the number of visitors to a maximum of two. When you are politely instructed to enter, you are forced to duck into the small classical room, restricting your initial impression. As you then stand you become engulfed in an infinite sea of lights, seemingly floating passed you as make your way along the striped walkway.
Turning this small, tight room into an endless illusion of space is an extremely clever and playful execution to enhance a single products presence.
Similarly, the Plinth gallery commissioned British artist Jacques Nimki to create an installation that again enhances a product’s presence by creating an English meadow, reacting to the handmade aesthetics of the furniture on display. Positioned amongst the tall grasses running through the entrance space, modestly crafted stools and tables designed by Raw-Edges sit purposely as if the meadow has grown around them.
A strong visual link is created between the display and the furniture’s handmade aesthetic.
Error, Present & Correct
Stationary merchant Present & Correct took to creating a visual display using just one simple product, the eraser. In their modestly merchandised but beautifully considered store in Islington, situated on one wall visible from the window, is over 150 rubbers assembling a colourful, almost mathematical display with a welcoming similarity to a television broadcasters test card.
With ‘Error’, Present & Correct have shown us, like Lee Broom and Jacques Nimki for the Plinth Gallery, that the way a product is presented can be as important, if not more important than the product itself. Particularly when it comes to attracting passers-by into your store and turning them into potential customers.
Breathless – the Essence of Glass
Exploring a converted workshop, ‘Breathless: The Essence of Glass’ encouraged visitors to pull up a stool and sit around as glass blowers practised their trade amongst well-presented glass and ceramic products within the light-filled ‘Garage’. The casual physical connection between the craft and the product allowed visitors to get a closer insight into the process behind the items on display.
This connection helps to encourage visitors to discover the local story behind the products before purchase.
The Shit Museum & The Primordiac Products
Downstairs in the same building as Breathless: The Essence of Glass, an exhibition called ‘The Shit Museum’ aimed to change people’s perception of waste products, in this case, the high available material of cow dung. Harvested from their large Italian farm, The Shit Museum turns some of its 150,000 kilos of dung produced daily to create simple and useful items for the home. They have collaborated with Italian designers and using their patented material Merdacotta, have produced furniture, tableware and flowerpots.
Ok, maybe not the most elegant of materials but a great example of how a perception of something can be changed by treating it differently.
Our final stop was the London Design Fair, situated within The Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. The fair houses work from exhibitors all over the world, launching new brands and products alike. As we explored the three floors, our senses overwhelmed by the diversity on display, we came across further examples of how designers are changing our perception of products and materials.
Italian company Corvasce creates full ranges of furniture from corrugated cardboard. Pictured above, large tiled wall panels take a material that’s often seen as a cost-effective solution and turned it into a stylishly bespoke and tactile surface.
King Kong Design, create multicoloured 3D wallpapers out of folded paper. The inverted prism pattern subtly uses light to create areas of depth through shadow and has an incredibly precious feel when up close, something you don’t normally associate with paper.
Just these two examples along with a glass balloon chandelier (above) featured at the Design Fair, are further examples of how designers are searching for alternative materials to inspire their latest products. It’s about taking the time to look at what you want to achieve, asking yourself who is it for and what do we want it to represent, and finding an appropriate solution to achieve what you set out to do. Don’t just settle for what has been done before, to be truly pushing our brands forward we need to be looking further afield for solutions that keep our customers interested and show them we are conscious of what we are producing and presenting.
It’s about taking the time to look at what you want to achieve, asking yourself who is it for and what do we want it to represent, and finding an appropriate solution to achieve what you set out to do. Don’t just settle for what has been done before, to be truly pushing our brands forward we need to be looking further afield for solutions that keep our customers interested and show them we are conscious of what we are producing and presenting.