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London Design Festival and Tent 2012

The other weekend I was lucky enough to head up to that there London to check out some of the capital’s annual design festival. I had a pass in my pocket for Tent, one of the UK’s biggest design trade shows, and was all set to get some serious interiors envy.

One thing that really struck me while browsing stand upon gorgeous stand was the way so many designers are blending traditional handcrafts with innovative technology. There are a lot of articles out there critiquing the resurgence of craft as some kind of regressive desire to return to pre-industrial times, and what they fail to realise is that so many craftspeople are experimenting with using these traditional skills in a modern, forward-thinking way. Craft isn’t the enemy of technology – it’s its buddy.

I also noticed a lot of wonderful digital prints adorning all kinds of surfaces, from wallpaper and textiles to kitchenware. It seems that new printing technology is opening up all kinds of exciting opportunities for designer-makers. I particularly liked these cushions and lampshades by Parris Wakefield Additions.

Isn’t this swimming pool coffee table amazing? I laughed out loud when I spotted that little ladder and diving board. It’d probably look absolutely ridiculous in my house, but I love it nonetheless. It’s by Freshwest Design.

These neon woven chairs by W&Q attracted a lot of attention throughout the day. Neons have been all over the high street this year, and it looks like they’re not going away any time soon. The designers have got some gorgeous clutch bags too.

I also really loved Tamasyn Gambell’s prints, which adorn cushions, scarves, lampshades and stationery. They have a much more natural feel than the crazy digital prints that seem to be everywhere, but are still bright and bold enough to really add interest to a room. It’s her first homewares collection (she previously designed scarves) and I think it’s all pretty lush!

Christian Zuzanaga is a designer with a really interesting history. Originally a student of biology, he is fascinated by the sight of objects under a microscope and how they are broken down into their smallest parts, as evident in his prints and patterns. As a totally non scientific-minded person, I always find it fascinating how people’s minds and creative processes work in such different ways and the hugely varied fields we draw inspiration from.

Attached to Tent 2012 for the first time this year was a dedicated Craft Market, selling goods from a selection of talented craftspeople. I was absolutely blown away by Clare Knox-Bentham‘s stand – she works entirely with melted plastic, and the incredible texture and detail on her jewellery and illustrations has to be seen up close to be truly appreciated.

There were also several exhibitions showcasing the cutting-edge of contemporary craft. I really enjoyed Contemporary Applied Arts‘ show domesticMATTERS, in which they converted the gallery space into an apartment belonging to a fictional collector of mid-century furniture and contemporary handmade homewares. How amazing would it be to live in this place?

I discovered so many amazing designers and products that I almost don’t think this one blog post can do it justice. I’m aiming to get a few more detailed profiles on individual designer-makers once I’ve sifted through and organised all my photos, so watch this space!

Did you manage to catch any of LDF? Did anything special catch your eye?

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