by Zohra KhanSep 08, 2022
With the best of the design world congregating in the city of London, on 17th September, the city transforms to host the much-awaited London Design Festival 2022. The red and white graphic identity design by Pentagram is sure to be seen across the city as the London Design Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary. Over the nine days of LDF 2022, 12 design districts unite artists, architects, designers and brands under a single identity. Introducing the newer generation to the next design fraternity, Shoreditch Design Triangle is hosting four graduate shows during the span of the London Design Festival. Bringing together the creative industry of East London, the largest district of the London Design Festival, returning for the 14th consecutive year, will become a newfangled platform for graduates through the showcase Class of ’22. The graduate show at Old Spitalfields Market exhibits the works of students from London Metropolitan University, Staffordshire University, and Kingston School of Art. Furthermore, a nurturing platform for new graduates, Green Grads by Studio Tucktite will also present student works at the Samsung showroom near King’s Cross. Throughout the exhibition, the public experiences and witnesses student works that explore different norms of design and address the burning questions of today. Presenting a new perspective of the design culture, the exhibits range from a collection of innovative, modular and playful furniture to ceramics inspired by different elements of nature.
London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan University will present graduate works through two exhibitions. The Postgraduate and Research Exhibition 2022 will present the works of students from the MA courses, Postgraduate Research and staff research. The show by BA Product & Furniture Design witnesses an intriguing array of product designs that are carefully curated through the choices of materiality and contemporary design. With the university’s philosophy of encouraging a vibrant culture and curious attitude, the student creations navigate through the collision of past, present and future. “The show represents the personal projects in which each student is asked to find issues or themes that they are personally curious about and wish to investigate further. We have items ranging from a ritualistic wash basin made of soap, as a response to the post-COVID world; a storage bench which incorporates the natural properties of rock salt to clean and de-odorise, and a number of items made as a live industry brief we developed with iconic bike manufacturer, Brompton,” states Course Leader of B.A. Furniture and Product Design, Simon Hasan M.A.
Diving more into the significance of hosting the show beyond the campus setting and in the public eye, Simon shares, “It’s vitally important - for students it’s an opportunity to set up, curate and manage their own exhibition. We include all year groups in this so they learn on the job, how to do this. For visitors and the local community, it’s a chance for them to see the work that is often produced on their doorsteps but doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable going into an academic building to see an exhibition. It’s a win-win for everybody and we’re thankful to SDT and Spitalfields Market for helping us with this.”
Works that took birth from students’ personal exploration of materials adorn the exhibition by Staffordshire University. Embracing the potential of conventional and digital technologies, the exhibition displays creations by graduates from MA Ceramics and BA Product, Furniture, Ceramics. The works include lighting designs that are portable and emphasise user interaction, handcrafted furniture pieces addressing mental health, ceramic vessels inspired by fungi, tableware influenced by the Memphis design movement, playful furniture designs, and a collection of interior products made from waste materials. For her project titled Blob, Rachel Clay designed playful furniture inspired by the structure and flexibility of blobs. She shares, “Blobs push the boundaries of traditional furniture and its construction and allows the user to engage through fun and playfulness even when they’re not in use.” Francesca Hartill designed Transforming Tradition with Duchess China 1888 responding to early twentieth-century art inspired by the fundamentals of geometry and limited use of colour. Inspired by societal issues surrounding Covid-19, Ross Mountford’s modular Plant Furniture system has been created to bring calm and serenity from the outside into the home. While questioning ‘why we must work by following the rules’, Brian Woods aims to push the boundaries with his Breaking the Mould lightings. With a lot more innovative designs that explore multiple disciplines and address significant concerns of today, the exhibition introduces to the public, young designers and new approaches. Among the students’ works are also live projects undertaken with John Lewis & Partners, KEF, Marks & Spencer Home, Wedgwood and the V&A Wedgwood Collection are also part of the exhibition.
Kingston School of Art
Exhibiting the works from the 2022 graduates of the BA Product and Furniture Design course, Kingston School of Art presents the Material Process Exhibition. While examining the unique properties of materials and their relation to natural resources, the exhibition questions how traditional processes can be reimagined to produce new and innovative outcomes. “The exhibition is arranged around the two themes of ‘Material’ and ‘Process’ as they are the key ideas underpinning the projects, and help form part of the University’s renowned ‘thinking through making’ philosophy. Material projects focus on the importance that materials have in determining the aesthetic, ecological and tactile impact of objects. In particular, exploring how new materials, or the use of materials in new ways, can reduce levels of waste and energy whilst also providing enriching sensory experiences. Whereas Process projects investigate how traditional industrial methods can be re-appropriated to produce innovative solutions within the furniture domain. Allowing the process itself the determine the language of the piece and serve as the core design element”, shares the graduate designers from Kingston School of Art. While emphasising the importance of a hands-on approach to design, the exhibition communicates the students’ exploration of the same during the lockdown. The graduate students further state, “Studying amongst lockdowns has not been without its difficulties, but it has allowed us to appreciate the value of experimenting with materials and processes first-hand. Without doing so none of the ideas you see today would have been discovered, let alone brought to life.”
Promoting and encouraging new graduates who aim to heal the planet, Studio Tuckite created a nurturing platform, Green Grads. The initiative founded and curated by design journalist Barbara Chandler will host its second edition at the Samsung KX Experience Space this year on September 24, 2022, and September 25, 2022. Green Grads aim to bring forward engaging conversations on eco-issues such as sustainability, climate change, circular production, waste and pollution, and diminishing resources among the coming generation of graduates. At the centre of the exhibition is a large and futuristic machine growing patterns on cloth, using little water and no harmful chemicals. Central Saint Martins’ graduate Charlotte Werth uses the bacteria thus harnessed to create lines and gradients of colour. “It’s a collaborative process with living organisms,” states Werth who believes her methods could replace the petrochemical dyes that pollute water and landscape, and destroy ecosystems. Furthermore in the exhibition, one witness a strangely-beautiful cluster of mycelium vessels by Georgie Gerrard of Loughborough University, Bruno Schooling’s Ground, tableware made from the iron-rich earth of Keepers Cottage Organics, and Seaweed Grotto’s exploration of abundant resource from Britain’s coast including flexible sheet material invented by Libby Challoner of Falmouth University. “Sustainability is now a commercial imperative. Consumers or clients, when deciding what to buy, are demanding sustainability, and they want info or action,” shares Barbara on the need for her initiative that supports new designers and the environment.
Through the series of exhibitions which widen the visibility of the innovative ideas from the graduates, the city continues to encourage the initiatives of the next generation. Amid the many discourses to address the current issues of the world through design interventions, LDF and Shoreditch Design Triangle are calling for newer solutions and approaches. While design festivals around the world are encompassing the many questions raised and dilemmas of what’s NEXT, it’s productive to lend an ear to what the generations to come to have to say. In between solving the knots of the past, loops of the present and spirals of the future, the urgency to act seems to be more relevant than ever.
Click here to know everything about London Design Festival 2022. Celebrating its 20th year, the festival takes over the city of London with installations, exhibitions, and talks from major design districts such as Brompton, Shoreditch Design Triangle, Greenwich Peninsula, Design London, Clerkenwell Design Trail, Park Royal, Mayfair, Bankside, King's Cross, William Morris Line, and Islington.