The more the merrier?

100% Design founder Ian Rudge sounds confident. And for good reason. After months of industry speculation, he has finally stepped out with his business partner Jimmy MacDonald to unveil their long-anticipated start-up, Tent London.

Under this brand, they will also launch a repackaged show to replace 100% East this September. The revamped event will take place in the same east London venue as its predecessor – the Old Truman Brewery – during London Design Festival. 100% East is effectively scrapped from the 100% Design portfolio.

Industry expectations for the new show are riding high. With 100% Design, Rudge is, after all, the man responsible for establishing one of the world’s most well-respected and popular design fair brands. MacDonald, meanwhile, was the driving force behind the high-profile 100% East.

Both left jobs at 100% Design, run by Reed Exhibitions, to create this independent breakaway. Despite a statement from 100% Design claiming that Rudge would continue to act as a consultant after he stepped down from running 100% Design, Rudge now confirms that he has relinquished all control there. MacDonald also says he remains unsure about what he will do with his consultancy, Undu Design, as his efforts become entirely focused on Tent London. In any case, both are staunchly committed to the launch.

But just how different the show will be, how exactly it will stand out in an ever-saturated festival landscape, and how it will compare to 100% East, are just some of the industry questions waiting to be answered. All eyes will be on 20-23 September, when the show kicks off for the first time.

Speaking to both MacDonald and Rudge, it becomes clear that a creative vision is top on the agenda. ‘It will be great to be in complete control of a project, working more closely with clients and running it in a less corporate environment,’ says Rudge.

Tent London will take over the entire Old Truman Brewery site – not just a part of it, like 100% East – and will comprise a series of differently themed spaces, enabling a greater array of exhibitors to get involved in the event.

Content is based on a similar proposition to 100% East and will provide a space where up-and-coming designers, producers and manufacturers can show off wares. The different product areas will include furniture, photography, ceramics, textiles, jewellery and lighting. Talent Zone will be a space where graduates, vetted by the Tent London team, will be able to exhibit prototypes and ideas for the first time to an international audience.

However, the two more exciting developments at Tent London are Circa and Your Space. Circa is Rudge’s brainchild and will be the UK’s first international event for vintage mid-century modern furniture. It will provide a showcase for UK and international dealers, retailers and collectors of high-quality branded and named 20th century design classics, to present their goods.

MacDonald says the rising interest in the vintage market made it a contender for Tent London. ‘It is a very important part of design and should be included,’ he says. Rudge concurs. ‘I’m very excited about the whole project and I think Circa is going to be great. There is no high-quality event in the UK for vintage and collectible design and it’s an area of real interest and growth. There are a lot of different things happening at the moment. We don’t want to replicate the same old model or imitate, so we have created additions that complement the show, to create a broader mix than 100% East. We want anyone who is interested in design – be it collectible or vintage – to come,’ he says.

Your Space is another fresh addition to Tent London. It will provide exhibitors with the chance to create their own bespoke environment, with the option to rent a whole building, or just part of a site.

The aim here is to create a more vibrant mix, encouraging one-off installations and hubs that generate a more interesting and exciting environment. The creative direction will be left up to the exhibitors themselves, but Tent London will provide a partnership and ‘as much or as little support’ as is required.

Both Rudge and MacDonald have intentions to launch the brand internationally, but they are waiting to see how the inaugural event goes before giving away their specific global plans.

Activities are already underway. The website for Tent London, www.tentlondon.co.uk, launched last week. It shows off a very different look to the 100% East graffiti brand and is designed by Rachel Isherwood, creative director at Undu Design. She also worked up the brand identity for Tent London.

While Tent London sounds intriguing, and the new additions are admirable, it remains to be seen how it will be received by the ever-expectant design festival crowd.


WHAT IS TENT LONDON?

• Jimmy MacDonald and Ian Rudge are joint directors
• Replaces 100% East, but will feature new additional events held at Old Truman Brewery in east London:
Content – for up-and-coming designers, producers and manufacturers
Talent Zone – for graduates to present work and prototypes
Circa – for vintage mid-century modern furniture
Your Space – the option to create your own exhibition space featuring installations

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