For nine days from 15-23 September, London turned into a playground (or a labyrinth for some) of incredible designs. Last year, the Festival welcomed a record-breaking 450,000 individual visitors from over 75 countries, and this year was no exception. With a total of 400 events within the city's 11 design districts, not to mention four major fairgrounds, it is exactly what Festival Director Ben Evans says, "London and Design go hand in hand. It is part of our story."
Where did Asian designers stand among the crowds? We head to Decorex and London Design Fair to find out.
Plates featuring the Great Wave by Reiko Kaneko.
New wall murals in three colours.
Reiko Kaneko is no stranger to the design scene. After studying design at Central Saint Martins, Reiko started designing a range of products that she had made around the world. But it was the joy of working with ceramicists in The Potteries and tapping into over two centuries of knowledge in fine bone china production that led her to concentrate on ceramics. This year, she branched out to designing tiles and jewellery design - with the former being our favourite design this year. Heavily inspired by Japanese artistry, her dramatic brushwork transforms into 'Waves' (in blue tones), 'Flamingo' (in orange tones) and 'Forrest' (in green tones) and are presented in the form of wall murals. Each is customisable and made to order.
Chair (T) and Lamps (B) featuring Su embroidery.
Ori Bespoke was an interesting discovery at Decorex. Founded in 2017 by Pei Li, Ori Bespoke took its name from 'original' and 'oriental', and was established with the aim to preserve and revive traditional oriental embroidery techniques - specifically the once-lost Su embroidery method. Working closely with the silk embroidery artists from China who specialise in the UNESCO World Heritage protected Su embroidery, Ori Bespoke launched their new collection of table lamps by combining handmade silk embroidery, classic motifs and shapes of Art Deco fine jewellery. And the results are indeed: "East meets West."
Bud Vase (T) and Incense Burner (B) by Craft Combine.
This Korean design team seems to need no introduction. A regular at London Design Fair, this year designers Giyong LEE, Yejin KIM and Junik JO ventured into the medium of glass and launched a new object brand "clear b" with two new products on display: Glass Incense Burner and Bud Vase. "'clear b' uses borosilicate glass and produces them with South Korean artisan," explained LEE. "By focusing on 'time' and 'place' that uses this object as well as basic functions of the object, we have interpreted it as the unique form of 'clear b'. We hope that people can feel the special moments that satisfy various senses with these glass objects." Among them, the Bud Vase, as the name suggests, takes its inspiration from the curvature of a flower bud (we think it's most likely a Tulip), and can also be used as a unique glass object to decorate spaces without flowers.
O'clock (Top), Roly (L), and Cylinder Vase by Bmix.
Founded by CEO Seungwook Kim in 2012, Bmix Studio was a total surprise for us as it has been exporting its designs to 15 overseas countries. With its poetic yet straightforward designs using natural and raw materials, Bmix produces sensory and practical products that meet a variety of needs of the public. For example, the Roly series of brass and acrylic vases sway gently with grace; while Cylinder Vase comes with a magnetic version that snaps onto the wall easily, making it an exciting and bespoke piece for interior design. Last but not least, the O'clock series in terrazzo (produced sneakily with Plaster and ABS) looked playful and elegant at the same time. They all are now available at Bmix's shop online.
CUTLERY Series and COFFEE SPOON by ANTOU
One half of Yawenyenchen is also one half of ANTOU. Confused? Don't be. Founded by designers Coby Huang and Yen Chen Chang, together with factory owner Fany Sung, Antou is based in Taiwan and originates within the island's robust metalware industry. Hence ANTOU's collection has always been about durability, smart, and intriguing furniture and accessories, created for ideal office working environments, with a hint of sustainability. For example, the funky looking COFFEE SPOON actually doubles up as a brilliant bag clipper - perfect if your coffee beans come in professional bags! For those packed lunch lovers, the CUTLERY series will be your blue chip investment. Utilising folded edges to shape its outline, its structure is strengthened for functional purposes. The design speaks a simple and straightforward language, yet remains stylish and stackable!
Collection 0 by Hi Thanks Bye.
We finally met up with Toronto-based studio Hi Thanks Bye after discovering their designs at Stockholm Furniture Fair. Formed in 2017 by Chinese Canadian duo Stein Wang and Topher Kong, Hi Thanks Bye's Collection O, now in the brand new maroon colour (not shown here), consists of six pieces of minimalist sculptural furniture (originally in a deep forest green matte finish). The entire collection is constructed using contemporary cold-rolled steel sheets and tubings juxtaposed by traditional, handmade textiles. The combination of industrial and traditional techniques demonstrates the versatility and resourcefulness of the young designers, who personally supervised the whole production process with manufacturers and artisans in China and Canada. Our favourite? The very comfortable, landscape-esque round rug.
For more info about the next edition of London Design Festival, click here.
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