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100% Design London

by Rohini Wahi

During the month of September, London comes alive as the epicenter of European design. The weather is often unseasonably warm, museums and studios pop a cork and throw open their doors and the city is abuzz with good vibes and creativity. Like any city during design week there are plenty of design districts and venues to visit. One of the largest and longest running shows is 100% Design, held this year in the new, airy and light-filled venue of Kensington Olympia. As part of my job as a trend consultant, this is a key show for spotting new talent in contemporary design, along with getting inspiration and great insight into emerging trends.

Here are my highlights of brands that stood out for me at the show, key trends spotted and a few extra designs that captured my eye. Let’s go!

About Rohini: With over a decade-long career in the design industry working for brands like Elle Decoration, Living Etc and Houzz and delving deeper into the business as a trend analyst, Rohini has spent her time doing all the things she loves best – writing about envy-inducing homes, interviewing modern crafters, traveling the world for inspiration and styling anything she can get her hands on. Living in East London and regularly traveling to the US and India, she delights in drawing from a pool of global design knowledge, inspiration and influences in her work. Rohini runs the design blog, The Beat That My Heart Skipped.

100% Design London, Design*Sponge
1/25
Danish lighting brand Ebb and Flow’s stand was luminous with just the right kind of vintage-style lighting we’ve all been coveting lately. Mouth-blown glass shades in varying amber hues and studded with filament lightbulbs. New styles included spindle shaped pendant lights, bell jar table-lamps and metallic, polka dot and stripe details!
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
2/25
I nearly walked past this stand twice and I’m so glad I stopped for a double-take to appreciate the subtle details of this great first new collection launched at the show. Greek brand Efasma used traditional materials and craftsmanship to create a modern collection of solid, woodframed seating and room dividers. The furniture frames incorporated handwoven surfaces made using a single length of naturally dyed rope in soft greys and corals. A highlight for me were three seats intertwined to make a bench, which I could see fitting perfectly into a hotel lobby or restaurant waiting area - and a marble dining table with clever niches for the dining chairs to slot into.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
3/25
A global collective of established and emerging designers, Jointed + Jointed is a platform for collaboration. New to launch at the show was Lucy Kurrein’s beautifully crafted "Aponi" furniture collection. A sturdy oak and walnut desk and storage solutions with classic leather details featuring a symmetrical motif inspired by the designer’s travels to South America.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
4/25
Portuguese brand Mambo Unlimited always stuns with their vast array of creative furniture, lighting and ceramic products designed by a diverse team of Portuguese talent, making each piece pretty unique. It would be easier to tell you what I wasn’t coveting in the new collection because every single item really hit the spot. Velvet seating with contrasting colors and patterns, candy-colored tables made of textured tiles and cage brass pendant lights with pastel contrasts were just a few of the new beauties. Check out more great products here.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
5/25
Cornwall, England-based designer Tom Raffield showcased a striking collection of wooden furniture that surely doubles as works of art. Hand crafted using sustainable timber in his studios in Cornwall, Raffield is a master of steam-bending, creating the most awe-striking feats of engineering. I loved how the pieces were just as show-stopping as they were quiet and considered.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
6/25
TREND: VELVET

Everyone in the design industry knows that furniture is the hardest product to sell many quantities of. It's a big ticket item and once you have bought a sofa, a desk, or an armchair, it’s going to be a long time before you replace it. So designers have to be pretty confident in the spec of a piece when they go down a certain route.

That’s why when I predict a trend I know it’s always the ones found in furniture that have the most life in them. No longer considered fusty and outdated, velvet is back in a big way - whispering sweet nothings of luxury, comfort and the promise of an heirloom purchase.
The "Alva" Art Deco inspired loveseat at Larforma.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
7/25
TREND: VELVET
An army of jeweled matte velvet. "Stay" dining chairs at SéLondon.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
8/25
TREND: VELVET
High-sheen "Nazare" footstools at Mambo Unlimited.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
9/25
TREND: VELVET Flocked velvet "Stardust" sofa at SéLondon.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
10/25
TREND: VELVET Sophisticated grey armchairs at Duistt.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
11/25
TREND: BENTWOOD

I only discovered the heart-stopping skill behind steam-bending wood earlier this year when I paid a visit to one of England’s most iconic furniture factories - Ercol - it is no mean feat! The show offered up plenty of undulating designs playing with the capabilities of wood, which were underpinned by The Invisible Store of Happiness - a three-meter high wooden sculpture by Sebastian Cox and Laura Ellen Bacon. Made of American Maple and Cherry consisting of a mighty steam-bent frame, it gives way to thinner woven strips twisting into a whirlpool of texture and shape. Other smaller scale designs by Tom Raffield (right), and Macmaster were no less impressive.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
12/25
TREND: BENTWOOD

Lotus Pendant Light Macmaster Design.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
13/25
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
14/25
TREND: HIDDEN DETAILS

What I love about the design industry these days is that almost everyone appreciates and celebrates the small details - perhaps a result of the not-so-distant period of austerity in design, when we all cut back to the basics and learned to appreciate the simple stuff. A glittering brass hinge on a simple wooden stool is still guaranteed to send me into a blissed out trance... Details, especially of the metallic kind, continued to be a winner at this year's show and appeared as subtle hardware-like trims. On the luxurious jade green "Victoria" sofa at the Mambo Unlimited stand, a copper kick-plate peeked out underside.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
15/25
TREND: HIDDEN DETAILS

A sliver of brass made me do a double-take in the niches of Efasma’s unique dining system.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
16/25
TREND: HIDDEN DETAILS

A brass toe cap finished off the leg of a baby pink sofa from Duistt.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
17/25
TREND: CANDIED HUES

Who can stay away from anything the color of candy? I am totally a neutrals and naturals girl, but the number of brilliant, pastel-hued pieces at the show had me convinced that I should really let a little more joy into my life! Geometric - check. Pastel - check. Metallic - check! I went back to the Design Heure stand three times to ogle at the sculptural "Nenuphar Light System," wondering how I could factor it into my living space (I can’t).
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
18/25
TREND: CANDIED HUES

The harlequin patterned "Poppy" coffee table by Larforma had a stained glass, sugar candy quality to it.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
19/25
TREND: CANDIED HUES
A bright lilac stool at Mambo Unlimited.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
20/25
TREND: CANDIED HUES

A sugary pink "Stay" chair at Se London.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
21/25
OTHER THINGS I SPOTTED

Mambo Unlimited had lots going on at their stand, including some very eccentric ceramic wall decorations. These glorious, handmade and handpainted ceramic designs took the form of seeds, pods, fruits and flowers in unusual color combinations.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
22/25
OTHER THINGS I SPOTTED

Equally classic but achingly on-trend was the new faceted bone china Hatton collection of lights by Original BTC.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
23/25
OTHER THINGS I SPOTTED

The Trident sofa made me look twice at the Jointed and Jointed stand as sophisticated craft met gaming graphics with its unique "Arcade" print by Kirkby Designs.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
24/25
OTHER THINGS I SPOTTED

Created for Stellar Works by Chinese studio Neri&Hu was The Cabinet of Curiosity - a tall, wooden storage unit on a trolley base with metal mesh covering the sides. Inside are seven objects made from walnut, brass and porcelain – one to represent each of the seven deadly sins.
100% Design London, Design*Sponge
25/25
OTHER THINGS I SPOTTED

The Utility collection, also by Stellar Works, was a modern interpretation of industrial seating. I loved the fusion of aesthetics and design eras - factory-style materials combined with schoolhouse simplicity and mid-century sophistication.

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