London Design Festival: Shoreditch

Reflecting the general Shoreditch aspirations to be forever one step ahead of the game, Design Week ventures to the district a whole day before many of its biggest boasts – Tent, Tramshed, and Origin – actually open.

However, the district is packed to the asymmetrically coiffed chops with other delights, first off we visit the Huba Hungarian Bazaar, showing products from 30 designers from Hungary including furniture, textiles, accessories and jewellery.

going dotty at the Hungarian Bazaar
going dotty at the Hungarian Bazaar

Having visited Christian Zuzunaga’s east London studio last month, it was a pleasure to see two floors of gallery space filled with his work, including a  huge, haphazard, vivid brick installation.

Lee Broom's Carpetry Pendant from the Heritage Boy Collection, 2009
Christian Zuzunaga’s bricks installation

We had a snoop around Tramshed before it’s official opening today, and having managed not to tread over hoover wires or further agitate harassed exhibitors, a highlight promises to be a lighting installation which allows visitors to plug in their iPods and see their music literally light up in the suspended bulbs.

Lee Broom’s rather surreal show has a ludicrous decadence which you can’t help but be a bit seduced by, enveloping you not only in the overwhelming warmth of the space, but in a seedy nightclub atmosphere heightened by the ‘bouncers’ on the door, dimmed lighting and wipe-clean, studded leather furniture. If Lady Gaga was to move into upholstery, we imagine it would be along the lines of the Salon range.

Lee Broom's Carpetry Pendant from the Heritage Boy Collection, 2009
Lee Broom’s Carpetry Pendant from the Heritage Boy Collection, 2009

Next it’s a trip to the Idea Generation for the very groovy posters and photographs in Hapshash Takes a Trip: the sixties work of Nigel Waymouth; before taking a quick stroll along  an angst-paved memory lane with the Nirvana Nevermind exhibition.

Barbara Keal's 'streetwear'
Barbara Keal’s ’streetwear’

Contemporary craft show Origin’s private view, provides an eclectic – if frequently avian-themed – spread of crafts from lighting to homeware, and jewellery to animal hats made of alpaca hair and glass ashtrays made from moulds of real breasts.

Mandan Oskoui's jewellery
Mandan Oskoui’s jewellery

One of the many highlights of Origin was jewellery from Mandan Oskoui. The pagan-esque shapes are inspired by patterns in nature, which are scaled up or down to form the beautiful, intricate pieces.

Approaching the arresting array of lighting installations in the Lux Craft section, we ask one of the lighting designers, Johannes Henmann, what exactly his light sculptures are made of. The beguiling pieces remind us of a sophisticated version of the fuzzy ‘grow-your-own’ cardboard Christmas trees that magically blossom in water. ‘Storms’, he replies. It turns out these lampshades are formed from particles of material such as plastic or polystyrene that clumps together having been blown about by a fan.

Loop.pH’s lighting
Loop.pH’s lighting

Our favourite, however, had to be Loop.pH’s colour changing light installation – a surreal apparition that seems like something between a UFO and Hex’s headwear.

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