London Design Festival – Designersblock

Before we even enter the surreal Aladdin’s cave of this year’s Designerblock – which now takes up residence at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall  – we were rather in love with the beautiful branding work, created by Hawaii Design.

Designersblock logo
Designersblock logo

Using bright colours and hard lines, the graphics are used in differently tessellating forms for their various applications, and reflect the vibrant, off the wall and fresh aesthetic of the show itself.

As well as the main Royal Festival Hall show, Designersblock 2012 also uses the undercroft of Queen Elizabeth Hall, with various events and installations popping up across the Southbank Centre site through its tenure.

Walterworks chair
Heart

The large number of recent graduates on display is telling –  the stands here are a lot more playful, cheeky and strange than at some of the LDF staples where the dominance of bigger brands and established designers mean pieces are (understandably) more consumer-focussed and err towards a ‘safer’ feel.

Walterworks chair
Studio Sudi lighting

There’s no danger of that, here, however. The space is characterised by colour and eccentricity – wonderful ‘skull art’ jostles with S&M-heavy furniture, Grace Jones-esque millinery and an array of toys sutured together with mismatched body parts. Superbrands this ain’t.

Studio Sudi lighting
Heart

Throughout the space, performance-art types waft around, interacting with the stands like stony-faced, mute apparitions. It’s rather odd – and were not sure it completely works – but it certainly adds an interesting theatricality to the event.

Walterworks chair
Lauren Baker

We were especially impressed with the kitschy, glitter-and-baubles take on skulls by ‘skull artist’ Lauren Baker:

Walterworks chair
Lauren Baker

Perhaps more wearable was the lovely jewellery by Anes Kim, in all its clunky black glory:

Lauren Baker
Anes Kim jewellery

Over in a space at the back of the show was Bodging Milano 2 – a project which saw a group of designers spend a week in the ash woods of Herefordshire to create a new collection of greenwood chairs under the guidance of Gudrun Leitz. After the first project in 2010, the chairs, created by green-woodworking (or ‘bodging’), were displayed at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, as were thus year’s crop.

Happy Help by Trine Moller
Bodging Milano 2

Another interesting take on the chair was presented by Moon-Jung Kim, in his Portrait of Memory project. Aiming to ‘express how our memories are replayed in reality’, he created a life-size chair from ice, then wrapped it in sellotape. As the ice melts, we’re left with nothing but the tape chair. It’s a bit like the poignant final scenes of The Snowman – or, as the designer puts is, ‘the essence disappeared and memory alone is left.’

Happy Help by Trine Moller
The Portrait of Memory by Moon-Jung Kim

Designersblock runs from 20 23 September at Southbank Centre, London
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