Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tent London 2012

Every year I try to visit at least one of the exhibitions during London Design Week, and the last few years it has been Tent held at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Personally I think it has a much nicer feel than the larger shows which at times can feel a bit corporate. Tent is the perfect showcase for up and coming designer/makers as well as established brands and has a friendly community driven feel about it.

Below are my top picks from this years show, just proving that Britain really is leading the way when it comes to design:

1. Sian Elin

Sian's Stand at Tent 2012 (Image © mrspeabod)
Sian is a welsh based surface pattern designer who creates beautiful hand drawn designs for wallpapers and textiles which are made using British manufacturers. Her influences include Islamic and Moorish architecture with a hint of mid century modern patterns and colour schemes. Sian worked as a children’s book designer before breaking out on her own to start her surface pattern design business. The designs you see here will soon be available to buy on her online shop. I particularly love the colour combinations on the Chevron wallpaper and the zesty yellow used on the Horseshoe Arch design.

Chevrons Wallpaper (image courtesy of Sian Elin)
Inlay Cushion (image courtesy of Sian Elin)
Tress Cushion (image courtesy of Sian Elin)
Horseshoe Arch in Yellow Wallpaper (image courtesy of Sian Elin)
Peacocks Wallpaper (image courtesy of Sian Elin)
2. Barnby and Day

Barnby and Day is a collaboration between two friends Robert Barnby and Lewis Day who hand make their gorgeous furniture in their country workshop in Hay-on-Wye using locally sourced wood such as Ash and Oak. As well as creating their standard product range they also create bespoke pieces.

I loved these benches and stools shown on their stand made with 5mm thick 100% wool felt inlays to add a softer edge to what might have otherwise been a beautiful yet hard surface to park your bum. The felt adds a great contrast to the pale wood, especially in these zesty colours.

And if you wanted to add some style to your kids bedrooms, they are also available in smaller kids versions.

These designs look like they could be future classics, what do you think?

Barnby and Day at Tent 2012 (Image © mrs peabod)
Barnby and Day at Tent 2012 (Image © mrs peabod)
Image courtesy of Barnby and Day
3. New Vintage Collective
New Vintage Collective are a group of furniture designers; Makoto Sera, Tamiko Sera, Kell Ransome and Robin McGrath.

Their designs are a twist on mid-century antiques and imagery. For instance the quirky and brilliant mirrors made to look like retro television sets, to the right of the photo below.

Image courtesy of New Vintage Collective

4. Tamasyn Gambell

Tamasyn is a London based textile and print designer who after working for many high end fashion companies as a women's wear print designer decided to set up her own environmentally and socially responsible company to produce luxurious textiles and home wares. Her inspiration comes from tribal prints and Bauhaus architecture. This was her first time exhibiting at Tent and her new collection is available to buy directly on her website.

Image © mrspeabod
I love the mid century feel to these Aztec Cushions and punch of the zesty colours in contrast to the softer greys and whites.

Image courtesy of Tamasyn Gambell
To celebrate the London Design Festival Tamasyn has collaborated with one of my favourite furniture companies Ercol to cover their classic Windsor easy chair in her trademark fabrics.

Image © mrspeabod
5. Goodwin + Goodwin

In 2009 Paul and Viviane Goodwin set up their own design studio where Paul, a graphic designer, creates products with a graphic and typographical twist to them.

This was their first year exhibiting at Tent on a solo stand but also appeared at Top Drawer earlier in the year. Apparently they came up with the designs for the letter rack and Ampersand Lamp and had them manufactured within a few weeks ready to exhibit, now that is what you call working under pressure. Well I say congratulations to them both as the end result is definitely worth it.

Image © mrspeabod
My particular favourite is the Typographic Display boards, which are very reminiscent of old London bus route blinds. The large metal boards come complete with A5 sized font cards A-Z so you can create countless messages. I also really like the Envelope Mail Holders made of powder coated metal available in four colours; Red, White, Purple and Mint.
Image courtesy of Goodwin + Goodwin
Image courtesy of Goodwin + Goodwin
6. Zoe Murphy

Zoe studied print and textile design and used her wealth of knowledge and experience in using different finishes and printing techniques on fabrics, and transferred it to hand printed recycled vintage furniture. The inspiration for her designs is her seaside hometown of Margate.

What I really like about Zoe's furniture is the contrast between dark stain on the wood and the bright almost ice-cream colours of her hand printed artwork. I'm a sucker for mid-century furniture but when upcycled this way they become almost irresistible.

Image © mrspeabod
Image © mrspeabod
7. Rachel Powell

Rachel exhibited last year at Tent but this time she is showcasing her prints which are screen printed in the UK, on wallpaper, tea towels and lighting. Her simple but very effective retro inspired illustrations have a nostalgic feel to them. She gave me a sample of the tractor and robots wallpaper, and I love it so much I think I might frame it for Harry's nursery.

Image © mrspeabod

The Woodstock design seen below is probably my favourite and I love the retro styling in her product shots on the new website

Image courtesy of Rachel Powell
Image courtesy of Rachel Powell
8. Daniel Heath
Daniel creates beautiful and whimsical bespoke wallpaper, textiles and interior surfaces from his East London studio. The inspiration for his designs comes from the landscape of East Sussex where he grew up. He uses laser engraving to create delicately intricate one off pieces of art on what would otherwise be discarded objects such as vintage mirrors and welsh slate tiles to give them a second life. Personally I have a house full of art deco mirrors so I was really drawn to these pieces, it was such an interesting way of personalising old objects.

Image © mrspeabod
Image courtesy of Daniel Heath
9. Roussel
This innovative British lighting design company has previously featured in French Elle Deco amongst other interior magazines with their simple but modern take on pendant and anglepoise style lamps. One of their standard lamps was even selected as a Living etc loves product. I love the fact the wiring is visible giving it quite a masculine feel contrasted with the shot of vibrant colour (in this case a lovely shade of fuschia) on the inside of the lamp itself.
Image © mrspeabod
10. Seer
The Seer Table is designed by a Bristol based couple who took three and half years to build and design the most functional piece of furniture I have ever seen. The reason it took so long to perfect the design is because it's a feet of engineering but so simple all at the same time. Why is it the most simple things are always the most time consuming to thick of? Check out a video of the table in use here. It was designed, like all good things, out of necessity as they live in a small terraced house with two children and so needed furniture that could be stacked away or compacted.

Image © mrspeabod
Image © mrspeabod
The same design team also created the Vincent/Vera chair. The two chairs pictured below stack on top of one another so perfectly and snugly that they then create a single chair, see the You Tube video of how they work here. You may look at the chairs and think that those ridges on the seat are uncomfortable but you'd be wrong, they were extremely comfortable, it was like my bum was getting a massage (oops maybe too much information). Apparently these only took a month and half to come up with but are still just as clever in their simplicity.
Image © mrspeabod
Image courtesy of Vincent/Vera

This is an assemblable furniture collection from Santiago, Chile made from beautifully crafted Chilean Lenga native timber wood. Their simple and clean lines are very mid century but the curved edges give them a softer more feminine feel. Pictured below is the Tronco range which assembles using very simple and elegant joints.

Image © mrspeabod
12. afid design

British furniture designer maker Michael Armstrong produces beautiful handmade furniture from his Newcastle based studio. He mainly makes bespoke pieces and one offs for his clients. He was showcasing his AB Desk that as he states "gives a nod to old style school desks" with its soft edges and integrated utility trough. This trough can be hand cast in concrete or Corian (a material usually found in high end kitchen worktops) which works wonderfully as a contrast to the warm wood. It also has an integrated recessed Ipad tray which makes it very current and two narrow drawers that are nicely hidden so they don't obstruct the simple clean lines. It is available in Oak, Black Walnut and Ash and comes in a standard size, which can be made to suit, as each one is handmade. I have a feeling that Michael is a designer to watch and this table could be a future classic!

Image © mrspeabod
Image courtesy of afid design
13. Design K
Last but certainly not least is Design K an interior products company founded by designer Byung. His mantra is to make products that are inspired by nature and things that we can see in our everyday lives. So what is more everyday than a cuppa? Inspired by the British love of afternoon tea he has created the Tea for One Tea Table, crafted from solid Ash and fitted with a ceramic plate to place your best china cup on. I love the fact he has created something that is innately British but with a sense of humour and a piece that can be personalised to become a one off.

Image © mrspeabod
Image courtesy of Design K
So that is my list of top spots at Tent 2012. If there are any products you really like or if you spotted anything I missed at the show that you feel needs adding, then feel free to let me know.

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