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Design Hunter

London Design Festival 2016 | designjunction highlights

Helen Powell

Life Space UX by Sony at designjunction 2016

I've been attending London Design Festival for a number of years now, and as it grows bigger and bigger each year the question on everyone's lips is always 'what are this year's must see designs and events'?

There are maps and apps to help, and instagrammers and editorials to point the way, but phew... sometimes it can all get a bit overwhelming. Rather than attempting to see everything, which inevitably leads to a feeling of design-junkie overload, Graham and I prefer to focus on a different area each year. That way we get to slow everything down a bit and can really enjoy discovering selected designs and soaking up everything a specific district has to offer.

This year we focused on the Kings Cross Creative Quarter. Still relatively new to the LDF scene, it's an area that's been experiencing significant redevelopment over the past few years. When we arrived at Granary Square for the opening day of designjunction last week the whole area was busy with a youthful creative buzz. Surrounding the canal waterways and public fountains were room-sized monopoly style pop-ups, alongside mobile eateries and coffee shops and accompanying musical performances.

Deadgood sofa upholstered in 'Window' by Kirkby Design

Central Saint Martin's cavernous Granary Building provided the backdrop for some great installations, including beautiful lighting by Blackbody and the Kirkby Design stand featuring this striking monochrome Deadgood sofa which proved very popular with Instagrammers seeking a photo opportunity.

Cubitt House | designjunction 2016

Then it was over to Cubitt House, a temporary exhibition space with an impressive façade of hundreds of black and white grid modules enclosing tall trees, and a great range of design to discover inside.

Verena Hennig rope light and Roll chair

We loved Verena Hennig's Roll furniture, which she was presenting alongside her new debut lighting product, the ethereal rope light. The Roll chairs and benches feature rotating aluminium rods that massage you as you slide from left to right. Aside from being great fun this also apparently helps to improve blood circulation by activating muscle groups and relieving tension in the body. These were featured in the VIP room alongside designs from ByAlex, who I've written about previously here.

Sony's Life Space UX stand (styled by The Conran Shop and also pictured in the top image) seemed to be attracting a lot of attention. We chatted to Sony's chief creative art director and other members of the team about the company's latest design and lifestyle offerings which are geared towards creating moments of ambience in the home. They include the seriously sleek 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector for the ultimate living room experience and the smaller Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector - a beautiful, clever and highly covetable design that offers flexibility, fun, information and entertainment. You can see more of how this works in my designjunction highlights video at the end of this post.

Sony also presented their new illuminated Glass Sound Speaker, which delivers ambient lighting alongside crystal clear sound that evokes the sensation of music played live in the room. I'll be sharing my impressions of this in a separate post as they've very kindly sent one over for me to try out.

Technology can sometimes be very obsessed with function, but with these new designs Sony have proved that emotion and style are just as important.

The range is currently available at The Conran Shop and also at Harrods.

Black styling for String at designjuction

Other designs that caught my attention were String's ever stylish modular shelving and storage displays styled by Lotta Agaton and the super-comfy Basset lounge chair from Icons of Denmark, that would be just perfect to curl up in on a dark winter's night.

Basset lounge chair by Icons of Denmark

After all that design at Cubitt House we needed to refuel, so it was a quick lunch at The Grain Store Store (yum) before heading over to the other side of the Granary Building for a good look around the Brain Waves exhibition - a feast of thought provoking conceptual design from their students at Central Saint Martins.

Then it was a quick look around the designjunction marketplace which offered everything from flowers to furniture, lighting and stationery before returning to the square for a well earned sit down to enjoy a live musical performance from the Tapestry string quartet as part of the Dornbracht water experience - the perfect way to end the day.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of our favourite moments from the day in this short film if you'd like to see what else we got up to.

This post is supported by Sony. All views and opinions my own.


My guest curation for Rise Art

Helen Powell

Dancer by Cody Choi | Rise Art

I've adopted an increasingly minimalist approach to the interiors in my own home over the past few years, and the more we've managed to reduce things to just the essentials the more I've come to appreciate what we have left. The things that remain are, for the most part at least, now things we really love and have consciously chosen to live with. And now that we have more space in our home there is more room for them to breathe and be appreciated.

At the same time I've actively sought out new pieces of art. Blank walls can be great, but some just feel empty. Art gives life to key spaces in the home, and it's also something through which we can express our individuality and our values. So I was excited to be invited to be a guest curator for Rise Art recently. You can view the collection I've curated for them here and this week you can also find me over on their blog talking about how I use art at home and sharing a few thoughts on choosing art for interiors.

In curating my collection I've specifically picked out pieces that I would like to live with every day within my own home, which is often very different from the art that I would admire in a gallery. Some of the pieces I've chosen reflect my interest in architecture and design. Others have an abstract quality that I find absorbing or soothing. I've also picked our photography that captures space and light in interesting ways, as this is something I try to do in the pictures I take myself.

Deco Stairs by Ian Hoskin | Rise Art

I really like the Rise Art concept as it offers you the opportunity to discover original art and to enjoy it within your own home without committing to buying it. You can choose to rotate pieces as often as you like using their art rental service, or buy artwork you decide you really love, so it's a great way to discover the work of both established and emerging contemporary artists.

Rental prices start from just £15 per month and all rentals are shipped ready to hang with free delivery and a no hassle returns policy, making it an easy and flexible way to buy or rent contemporary art online.

Here are some of the pieces I've chosen for my guest edit. Head over to Rise Art to view the rest of the collection.

White containers by Tommy Clarke | Rise Art
Embankment by Stephen Whatcott | Rise Art
Slide by Reed Hearne | Rise Art

Images from top:

Dancer: Gama #4 - Cody ChoiDeco Stairs - Ian Hoskin | White Containers - Tommy ClarkeEmbankment - Stephen WhatcottSlide - Reed Hearn

In collaboration with Rise Art & all images featured courtesy of Rise Art.


A serene apartment in Moscow

Helen Powell

Moscow apartment by FORM Architects

This interiors project, by Russian architectural practice FORM, has all the hallmarks of luxe minimalism. Situated in the historical centre of Moscow within a new residential block, three existing apartments were merged into one in order to accommodate a large family. FORM then divided up the resultant space into two distinct areas, common and private, connected by the hallway, to allow for the differing needs of the family members.

The spaces have a feel of both serenity and formality to them, with clean structured lines softened by well chosen furniture (much of it custom designed), fittings, textiles and long floor to ceiling curtains. The subtle mix of textures, materials and quiet statement pieces gives the apartment a feeling of space and relaxation and I particularly like the soothing palette of aquamarine blue they've used on the walls as a backdrop to the natural and dark oak flooring and furniture. 

Luxury and quiet individuality are combined to subtle effect, and subtle details are gradually revealed as you take the time to discover this space. Whether its the unusual recessed mirror with no right angles, the hexagonal coffee table incorporating modern graphical marquetry, or the three-dimensional grey wall panel with subtle 'anechoic' panelling references, there are lots of lovely surprises waiting to be discovered. Pure unadulterated luxury is catered for too. Who wouldn't like to take a dip in a beautiful white marble bathroom at the end of a long tiring day?

Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Wall shelving in Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Apartment in Moscow designed by Form Bureau | Design Hunter
Apartment in Moscow designed by Form Bureau | Design Hunter
Marble bathroom in Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow Apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Moscow apartment by FORM Architects
Apartment in Moscow by Form Bureau | Design Hunter
Bathroom in Moscow apartment by FORM Architects

All images courtesy of FORM and more information can be found here.

10 things to see & do at designjunction 2016

Helen Powell

London Design Festival is almost upon us and the city is gearing up for the busiest week in its design calendar. This year's event, which coincides with the design biennale at Somerset House, promises to be bigger than ever.

With so much to see and do, finding your way around everything is impossible, so I always try to plan ahead and do a little research. In previous years I've found that picking out two or three different areas I want to focus on is the most manageable approach, and this year I'm particularly excited to explore the new Kings Cross creative quarter. designjunction is relocating to its new long term home there and there have been exciting redevelopments in and around the area in the past couple of years.

The theme for designjunction 2016 is 'Immersed in Design', and a curated programme of installations, events, workshops and design exhibitions will take place across four main sites, alongside design-led retail spaces and places to eat and drink

Cubitt House

Cubitt House

Cubitt House, a custom built two floor pavilion in Lewis Cubitt Square - a new civic square located on Stable Street just moments from Granary Square - will be the main trade destination for the event. Contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories from leading brands will be on show behind a façade designed by Satellite Architects alongside Icons of Denmark, featuring over 4,000 lightweight GRID modules designed by Peter J. Lassen.

Granary Square will be home to some of the headline projects and conceptual installations while The Crossing - running through Central Saint Martins - will house specially commissioned projects and immersive installations too. There will also be retail pop-ups at The Canopy.

Here are some of the highlights.


1. Cycle Tours

Tokyo Bike

Tokyo Bikes will be hosting specially curated London Design Festival bike tours from designjunction, offering visitors the chance to see the highlights by bike.

Led by design industry experts, each tour will visit London Design Festival events, including showrooms, studios, stores and one-off installations, while also taking in some of London's architectural highlights.


2. the Monopoly Houses

Granary Square

At Granary Square, the main hub of the event, eight giant Monopoly style houses will be taken over by brands from different design disciplines and filled with conceptual installations, creative projects and live activities.


3. The Dornbracht Water Experience

Granary Square

Kitchen and bathroom manufacturere Dornbracht will create an ambitious immersive waterfall installation that will trigger two of the permanent fountains on Granary Square to produce a wave effect. The experience, which will be accompanied by a soundtrack by Wave Studios, will be designed to recreate the feeling of standing by the sea within the heart of urban London. There'll be a daily string quartet performance too.


4. 'Who's Casper' charity project

Casper Stool

Leading designers, artists and architects including Sir Kenneth Grange, Tom Dixon and Ross Lovegrove will be collaborating with British furniture company Modus to raise funds for refugees.

Each designer has been challenged to customise one of Michael Sodeau's Casper stools. The playful design of this stool incorporates two finger-sized holes, giving it an unexpectedly anthropomorphic character. This makes it an appropriate metaphor for the project, which seeks to draw attention to the anonymity and dehumanisation of refugees.

The resulting designs will be on display at designjunction with the identity of the designer remaining secret. The aim is to challenge our tendency to put an emphasis on known name and reaffirm the equal value of a nameless person.

The stools will be sold in an online auction to raise funds for the charity Movement on the Ground, which supports refugees at the forefront of the European migration crisis.


5. Textiles

Bolon by You

Bolon by You

Swedish design company Bolon will be showing their latest collection Bolon by You - a flooring collection that can be custom designed using an interactive web tool that allows you to personally select the pattern as well as the colour of the warp and weft before requesting a sample.



I'm also looking forward to seeing the new Optical Illusion collection from London based rug brand Cavalcanti who have collaborated with photographer Hendrik Schneider to develop a series of images of designer Natasha Phillips camouflaged in the optical patterns of the rugs that surround her.


6. Design led home technology

Sony Glass Sound Speaker

Sony Glass Sound Speaker

Sony will be showcasing two new premium design led products that utilise light, sound and visuals in unexpected ways to harmoniously remove the barrier between technology and interior design.

designjunction will see the UK launch of their Glass Sound Speaker - a lightweight, portable speaker that connects to smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, delivering crystal clear audio with soft, dimmable LED lighting in an elegant minimal lantern design.

Sony Ultra Short Throw Projector

Sony Ultra Short Throw Projector

Also launching at designjunction is the Ultra Short Throw Projector - a battery powered portable projector with built in speakers that casts content directly onto surfaces, turning walls, tables or even floors into a screen.

Both are part of a new concept from Sony - a series of design led products designed to blend seamlessly into the home while at the same time offering new ways to transform your living space.


7. Furniture

Design House Stockholm

Design House Stockholm

Exhibiting at designjunction for the first time, Design House Stockholm will be showing a number of their latest products for 2016 including their new Nest sofa. Another Country will be celebrating their fifth anniversary with a new chair designed by David Irwin, and Isokon will be presenting products including the Portsmouth bench designed by Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby.

I'll also be looking out for String Furniture, who always have the most exquisite, and instagrammable, styling.


8. Lighting



Also new to designjunction, Danish brand Vita Copenhagen will have a mobile showroom on Granary Square. The VITA Van, which will feature iconic styles such as the EOS, will allow visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Danish design.


9. Shopping



More than 70 design-led retail brands will be housed in The Canopy - a temporary pop up venue that will offer products including ceramics, stationery, fashion accessories, technology and textiles.

I'll be keeping an eye out for the new collection from Welsh woollen mill Melin Tregwynt, covetable timepieces from VOID watches and simple, functional, thoughtfully designed homeware and furniture from Oggetto.


10. Eating and Drinking



After all of the above I'll definitely be in need of refuelling.

At Cubitt House a secret garden featuring a pop-up café furnished with furniture from the new Deadgood collection will provide a space in which to relax or network alongside an array of plants and flowers, while upstairs there's the Isokon café operated by La Marzoco and a stylish bar run by the East London Liquor Company and furnished by Arper.

designjunction will also see the launch of the Kings Cross Creative Quarter (KXCQ) initiative celebrating creative and cultural destinations in Kings Cross. Some of the best local restaurants and hotels, including The Gilbert Scott at the St Pancras Hotel will have exclusive offers for visitors to enjoy and Vinoteca will be offering free wine tastings. Full details here.


This post is supported by Sony. All views & opinions my own.

Design Project by John Lewis

Helen Powell

Design Project John Lewis

I was excited to see the launch of the new Design Project collection from John Lewis a few days ago. Designed mostly by a team of in-house designers the series of original pieces includes contemporary furniture, lighting, textiles and home accessories in a stylish, elegant neutral palette.

John Lewis have long been a go-to destination for many of us when it comes to furniture and homewares, but they've really upped their design credentials recently and the new collection reflects the more progressive approach to design and manufacture they've adopted over the past couple of years. More premium in design and finish than the popular House by John Lewis range which launched in 2012 the collection draws from a considered choice of materials including wood, glass, concrete, marble and leather.

Design Project by John Lewis

Design Studio Manager Philippa Prinsloo explains that the designers who created the collection were guided by three core principles - they wanted each piece to be original, beautiful and progressive, with the latter quality taking priority.

"In establishing the brand we looked at enduring design, architecture and artists. We didn't start with any images, only their words, and adding ours. We wanted to look at places and spaces like the Barbican in London to work out what made them last and still feel relevant today. We were striving to create a balance between progressive and what felt to us like home, so that these pieces would work easily in people's homes."

Design Project John Lewis
Design Project John Lewis

Each piece in the collection is assigned a number rather than a name. No. 029, the bedding collection, was one of the designs inspired by the Barbican. The designer created her own set of tools and brushes to create expressive markings reflecting the shapes, shadows and modernist architecture of the landmark building. Specialist print techniques were then selected to ensure that these were retained when translated onto fabric.

Design Project John Lewis

The tan leather snuggler chair (no. 002),  a comfortable, deep seated piece with a grown up look and feel, is a modern take on classic Scandinavian design, while the oval shade floor lamp (no. 031) is a light and easy to live with design that will work well as a statement piece in an open plan space or a larger living room. The footprint has been carefully considered however so that it doesn't take up too much room.

Design Project John Lewis

The collection is comprised of pieces made from beautiful materials that have been chosen to work harmoniously alongside one another - each piece is designed to work together, but also to stand alone. I particularly like the purity of this opal glass table lamp on top of the oak sideboard, a design that is defined by its simple lines and balanced proportions.

Design Project John Lewis

The Design Project collection is now available online and in store, and during London Design Festival visitors to the John Lewis store on Oxford Street will be able to experience a fully furnished Design Project home via virtual reality. Details, dates and times are available here.

Posted in collaboration with John Lewis.