Of course, no one wants to talk up the economic doom: many design sectors remain buoyant and savvy designers are well able to refocus as their clients shift with the markets.
And no one should underestimate the sector’s creative optimism. The 2008 100% Design is buzzing with ideas and events. There are new products and new collaborations, and no let-up in the pressure to see everything. The desire to catch it all hasn’t waned with the economy, and it may provide a clue to the sector’s resilience. If designers can continue to come up with a diversity of good ideas, and refuse to let the gloom get them down, they will be well placed to weather any coming storm.
This supplement aims to reflect their creative thinking. It tracks some of 100% Design’s key themes, including new materials, new launches and the eco concerns of lighting designers. Some feared sustainable issues would hamper creative thinking, but there’s little evidence of that. If anything, the Green constraint has spurred designers to think in interesting new ways – and still let them do their bit for the planet.
As well as this years key themes, we also spotlight some less obvious ones. Children’s furniture has always been a junior sector at 100% Design, but the small wonders on display this year deserve a bigger audience. And while Asian design is often eclipsed by Europe, the stands from Thailand, Japan and South Korea offer some intriging ideas.
Sarah Frater, supplement editor