WHEN 100% Design was launched some three years ago, it was a breath of fresh air for many contemporary furniture designers, providing an affordable platform for them to showcase their wares. Those willing to take the risk were seen by manufacturers, many for the first time, and the results of this airing, coinciding as it did with a dawning awareness by a handful of furniture producers, are now coming to fruition.
Allermuir is one UK manufacturer that has championed design for a number of years, and at 100% Design it snapped up the Luna cafÃ© range by Blue and John Coleman’s Zuppo chair. “We look for contract products,” says design development manager Tim Lishman.
However, he says “it takes a long time to get things through in this country”. So Allermuir is exploring the export market and, says Lishman, “it is the ‘designer’ products that are doing well”.
At this year’s 100% Design, Allermuir will launch an upholstered tub chair by Mark Gabbertas, aimed at the hotel and corporate reception market. It’s a new avenue for the company but, says Lishman, “you’ve got to be competitive to deal with what floods in here from Italy”.
Ness Furniture – well known in the cafÃ© and leisure market – is also keen to help British designers become involved in the commercial world. As part of this agenda, for the last few years it has sponsored a competition in association with New Designers in Business. This has provided Ness with a few new products, such as the Antler chair by Azumi and the Curve chair by Robert Kilvington. Both will be on show at 100% Design, before moving to Selfridges as shortlisted contenders for Design Week’s Furniture Futures competition.
Englender Furniture ventured into the “designer” portfolio with the likes of Michael Young, Rob McPetrie and Richard Woolf. However, while Daniel Englender says “there are lots of designers out there that we would like to work with”, the hotel and leisure market is his company’s core market. But even here there is scope for design as “even traditional customers like to see a bit of excitement”, he maintains.
Outside the contract world, new design centres and retail showrooms are springing up, the Geffrye Design Centre in east London being one. Running alongside the Geffrye Museum, from next year it will live in a new extension designed by Branson Coates.
The Geffrye Museum was founded in 1914 as a learning resource for the furniture industry. The Design Centre will be more specific in its role to promote contemporary design. Its aim is to become a resource for architects, interior designers and retail buyers and it has already received funding from the European Regional Development Fund. This has allowed it to produce the Hackney Furniture Directory, listing local designers and makers, and to promote itself at events such as 100% Design.
Major retailers such as Ikea, Habitat, Heals and Selfridges have taken up the cause for design, and several are coinciding their own events with 100% Design – this is good news for the smaller design concerns which are finding 100% Design less “affordable” than previous years because of a hike in stand charges or have failed to woo sponsors to support their appearance there.
Habitat’s Kings Road store is showing work by Simon Pengelly, who had to pull out of 100 % Design because of the price increase; and Selfridges is holding a mini-show called Tasty to promote designs by Juggernaut, Jam and Paul Dal, among others. This will be followed by Design Week’s Furniture Futures exhibition on show from 9-16 October.
In west London, eight furniture and accessories retailers are joining forces to form the Westbourne Grove Design Route. Among them are Christopher Farr, showing work by Jasper Morrison, and Aero, launching its autumn collection. The other six are Bill Amberg, Tom Dixon’s Space, Bowles and Linares, Dinny Hall, Succession and Themes and Variations.
The UK furniture industry appears to be finally coming out of its “traditional” period, having played it safe for so long. Energies are being diverted into exploring the wealth of design talent out there. Let’s hope this leads to more consistent support and funding.
Go and see the quirky designs from Chairs, which will show its first sofa-cum-bench, Poliphony, alongside a new range developed in collaboration with Morris of Glasgow. The Octavian range has been designed around a laser-cut metal base frame which can take almost any shaped seat or back and is aimed at the leisure market. Apparently, it is a fraction of the cost of Chairs’ designer ranges.
Handles and Fittings
What is it about designers and door handles? Matthew Hilton follows in the footsteps of Jasper Morrison, Norman Foster et al, with his Alutech range of ironmongery, manufactured by Handles and Fittings. Produced in satin-anodised aluminium, the range consists of lever handles, door and drawer pulls designed to fit the hand and fix to a range of materials.
We saw them first in Milan (DW 18 April) and now Catalytico is bringing them to the UK – exotic silk lighting “sculptures” by Tel Aviv-based Ayala Sperling Serfaty. These batch-made fittings in silk and metal framework have a delicate transparency and a price to go with it – but they are stunning. Morning Glory, shown here, stands over two metres high and in terms of impact, will surely win over the new lighting products from Foscarini and Ingo Maurer, also on the stand.
Authentics adds to its collection of colourful accessories with the launch of the Cable Turtle – an intriguing name for a soft rubber “bobbin”, which you simply wind excess cabling around. Designed and manufactured in Holland, it is available in eight bright colours – just the thing to liven up the workplace. We are told it conforms to
UK safety standards for office use but would be just as well suited to the home – for those lengths of TV and video cable.
An intriguing feature promises to be the 100% Rubber design competition to be launched by Dalsouple this year. It has apparently been conceived “to encourage the design world to appreciate the flexibility of rubber as a material”. The company’s range of rubber flooring is undoubtedly one of the most colourful available in this country. This year will see the introduction of 12 standard colours, as well as a new version of the company’s CD-ROM.
Geffrye Design Centre
The stand is designed by Juggernaut, and is set to be a taster of what we can expect when the Geffrye Design Centre opens next year. There will be a model of the museum on the stand, plus a large map of East London, studded with product images to mark the locations of the many workshops in the area. An interactive multimedia computer program featuring products by Hackney designers and makers will also be launched.
Flos and Kartell
If you haven’t already seen the latest lighting designs from this leading Italian lighting manufacturer, then this is a must. Achille Castiglioni’s Fucsia pendant fitting, shown here, is a delight with its blown glass diffusor cones available in single, triple, eight or 12 drops. Also check out Philippe Starck’s latest products for Kartell, including the Miss Trip chair and the Miss Trap table.
Spy, designed by Hannes Wettstein, is one of three new task lights from first-time exhibitor Artemide. This futuristic-looking light has a single revolving arm with swivel head and comes in painted metal and coloured aluminium finishes. Also on display is the Rodope task light by Zed; the Gum spotlight from Megalit (now part of Artemide); the Zanzibar range of spotlights from Mario and Claudio Bellini; and the Solar 600mm x 600mm ceiling fitting for diffused indirect lighting.
The stand is designed by Graven Images and so is the cheeky mascot – a West Highland Terrier. Representing Glasgow in a “fun, irreverent and imaginative way” are 11 furniture, textile and domestic product design companies ranging from hand-printed fabric screens and furniture by Squigee to James Irvine’s Tubo chair (shown) for BRF, available from Nice House Contracts. There will also be a separate showcase of prototypes from individual designers based in the city.
100% Design: from 28 September to 1 October at Duke of York’s Headquarters, Kings Road, London SW3.