Hip to be square

The 100esign show is now a showcase for both up-and-coming designers and established names in the design world. Sara Manuelli takes a sneak peek

The 100% Design show is coming of age. This year, the London show has increased in size by 30 per cent and will play host to over 400 exhibitors from all over the world. Over the past five years, it has evolved from a craft-based event into a full scale international showcase of established manufacturers and new designers. It may not scale the heights of Milan and Cologne in terms of major international launches – most manufacturers still choose to show new products there – but it holds on firmly to its reputation as the place to spot emerging talent and trends.

According to the 100% Design organisers, this is the venue where the designer-maker goes through the transition from creating small production batches to commissions or collaborations with the big manufacturers. Many designers who have launched at 100% Design have become household names of British design, including Michael Young, CA1, Michael Sodeau, Michael Marriott and Inflate. In collaboration with the Crafts Council, the organisers actively encourage the promotion of young designers and is sponsoring the work of ten. This year’s bursary recipients include Lubna Chowdhary, whose handmade kaleidoscopic ceramic tiles have already won her a commission at Terence Conran’s Alcazar restaurant in Paris, and Aaron McGuinness, whose Lightsource collection is a series of digitally printed canvasses featuring hypnotic photographs of neon lights, chandeliers and lit buildings.

Although this year’s increased space means more international companies, British manufacturers are out in force. Considering the increasing global interest shown in the UK furniture scene, the British launches promise to be the real surprise of the show. Newcomer Keen will show workplace furniture by Thomas Heatherwick, Ron Carter and Matthias Bengtsson, Sir Robin Day and Jane Dillon. Oreka Kids is launching its latest children’s furniture collection with birch plywood pieces by names such as the Azumi’s, Matthew Hilton, Andrew Stafford and Michael Marriott. London retailer Twentytwentyone has turned manufacturer with collections by masters Sir Robin Day and William Plunkett, plus designs by Barber Osgerby Associates and Gitta Gschwendtner.

Proving yet again that a collaboration with young design is the way forward for established companies, Wedgwood is launching its contemporary collection, with bowls and vases designed by Sodeau and ranges by Paul Costelloe and Nick Munro. Following the success story of last year, when it designed Argyl in collaboration with Jasper Morrison, Bute Fabrics will be launching three new products: Seklirk, Kilmory and Kames. Architect David Chipperfield presents his second collection of upholstered seating furniture for Hitch Mylius, seen at Cologne earlier this year.

Manufacturer SCP is presenting a new table by Michael Young, samples from the Armani kitchen collection and other pieces of its collection – already seen at Milan and London show Spectrum. Isokon Plus presents the new wing shelves and coffee tables by the prolific Sodeau and two new sizes of the Loop shelf by BOA. Design group CA1 will be launching its collection of furniture, recently used for the new Westbourne Hotel in west London.

Still, this year’s overseas presence is impressive, especially the Italians. Zanotta will be presented through Coexistence, while Montis, MDF Italia, Pallucco, XO and Zeus will all be at Viaduct’s stand. Milanese luminaire Driade – whose president Enrico Astori is a self-confessed Anglophile – returns to the show after one year’s absence. New products to the UK include the Mono stackable chair by designer Shaun Flynn, the Fuoco kitchens by Antonia Astori and ceramics by Sebastian Bergne. Ycami will be at Robert Webster’s stand, Cassina at Geoffrey Drayton’s stand and Cappellini is showing the Tate Modern collection by Jasper Morrison. Tisettanta is launching an appropriately named Centopercento system by Antonio Citterio, while architect Claudio Silvestrin’s range for Dema – showed at Milan last April – is also on display.

The Netherlands are represented by Birdman Furniture, which has recently completed the furnishing for London restaurant Smiths. Also featured are stands representing France, Germany, Scandinavia, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand. Students will have an opportunity to show their work at Design Week’s stand, this year occupied by The Royal College of Art students from Ron Arad’s design products course.

Just like in Milan, a wide range of fringe events outside the show promise to reveal even more home grown and foreign talent. Worth visiting is Designers Block, a stimulating collective of new designers; see their work at their new residence in the disused Victorian St Pancras Chambers.

100% Design takes place at Earls Court Two, London SW5, from 5-8 October

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