Tent London 2014

Posted on October 6, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

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Top: Danish made; Bottom left: 100% Norway; Bottom right: visitors relaxing outside on a warm Sept day


This year, I was surprised by the number of Asian designers participating at Tent London. I ended up spending about 3 hours there and chatted to many designers, which left me feeling quite exhausted and design-overdosed!

The first surprise came when I saw Tokyo design week in London occupying a large area at the back of the ground floor. The theme was Tokyo Imagine, which showcased interactive design and technology, products, graphics and animation etc. There was some amazing digital technology on display esp. by Amana, where an app Arart was created to turn an ordinary two-dimensional image into motion graphics. However, I found the curation random and inconsistent, among the futuristic interactive design and technology, there were also some traditional displays that looked completely out of place!


P1100304 IMG_0740 Tokyo Merry-go-round by Asami KiyokawaP1100306 tokyo design week in london nestmangaka P1100327

Top left: Koda Kumi's Dance in the rain; Top right: Amana x Arart; 2nd row: Tokyo Merry-go-round by Asami Kiyokawa; 3rd row left: Kenjya's manga; 3rd right: IgaChie - traditional decorations; 4th row: Nest; Bottom left: Mangaka's manga knife and chopping board set; Bottom right: Handmade-Japan


My favourite of the section was Nest created by Junya Shigematsu, featuring different sets of handmade wooden toys inspired by Russian Matryoshka dolls. These sets teach the structure/anatomy/scale of animal and human body, they are both playful and educational.

Upstairs, I came across a group of Japanese design students who have teamed up to create furniture and goods inspired by manga. Mangaka's designs are fun and unusual, I especially like the Kill Devi wooden chopping board set.


Michael & georgeP1100345 Gróa Ólöf ÞorgeirsdóttirP1100406Vezzini & Chencampobagstudio iflouise tuckerP1100331 yoin design

Top: 'Stationery object' range by Michael & George; 2nd row left: recycled lamps by Creare; 2nd row right: Gróa Ólöf Þorgeirsdóttir's Wooly; 4th row left: “Dive in” by Vezzini & Chen; 4th row middle: Campobag; 4th row right: Random by Studio; 5th row: Louise Tucker; Bottom left: Mutton & Flamingo; Bottom right: Yoin design


In recent years, I noticed that lighting design plays a more prominent role at various design trade shows. Lighting is now being treated as important as furniture, and designers are experimenting with different materials and craft techniques to create many interesting designs. One of the most playful design at the show was Michael & George's HB lamp, part of their 'Stationery Objects' range. It's quirky and brings a smile to my face, perfect for stationery addicts!

I also like the way glass and ceramics are used in London-based design team Vezzini & Chen's lighting design. Their "dive in" wall installation features glass bubbles filled with ceramic forms that emulate forms and textures of underwater creature; while their "close up" lamps are made up of slip casted and hand carved bone china pieces inside the free blown glass form. On the glass, bubble-lens were created to distort and magnify the view of the Bone china inside. Simple and yet beautiful.

Another interesting glass lamp that I cam across was Random, created by Taiwanese design team, Studio If. The pendant light has two strings and when one string is pulled, the light balls are turned on one by one in random order. And when the other string is pulled, it dims the light in the reversed order till all balls are off. I love this cool and elegant lamp!


Stix Chair by Nicolai Hansen & Clemens Hoyer Aljoud Lootah's 'Unfolding Unity StoolPinpres by OOO My designStik by Jesper Su Rosenmeier & Johan Jeppesen IMG_0771Triplets by Brish Mellor Aparentment

Top left: Stix Chair by Nicolai Hansen & Clemens Hoyer; Top right: Aljoud Lootah's 'Unfolding Unity Stool'; 2nd row left: Pinpres by OOO My design; 2nd row middle: Stik by Jesper Su Rosenmeier & Johan Jeppesen; 2nd row right: Middle East Revealed; Bottom left: Triplets by Brish Mellor; Bottom right: Aparentment


One section at the show that I particularly enjoyed was Danish Made, where emerging Danish Designers showcase prototypes inspired by the two great Danish furniture designers Hans J. Wegner and Børge Mogensen. Graduates from three Danish architecture and design schools reinterpret the classic forms as this year is the centennial birthday of the two masters. My personal favourite is Stix Chair by Nicolai Hansen & Clemens Hoyer (see above).


P1100298Alghalia Interiors Artesania de GaliciaTracey Tubb

Top: 100% Norway; 2nd row left: Alghalia Interiors; 2nd row right: Artesania de Galicia; Bottom: Origami wall covering by Tracey Tubb


Like I mentioned earlier, there was a notable high numbers of Asian designers showcasing here this year. Aside from Tokyo design week in London, Constancy and change in Korean Traditional Craft also occupied a large area upstairs where the organiser Korean Craft & design foundation showcased a variety of contemporary crafts that are inspired by traditional culture, materials or techniques.

There were several Asian designers/ brands that stood out for me, and one of them was Korean designer HyunJoo Kim, who designed the natural-inspired Fallen leaf trays made of paper. Hyun Joo's background is in industrial design, and she has designed many nature-inspired furniture pieces. The newly-launched eco Fallen leaf tray sets are simple, easy to use, and they are more aesthetically-pleasing than the standard paper plates.


P1100387korean traditional craftzan designbonnsu clippen Fallen leaf trays by HyunJoo Kimhyper stone

Top left: Japanese origami screen; Top middle: Constancy and change in Korean Traditional Craft; Top right: Zan design at Campobag (Taiwan); 2nd row: Bonnsu (Taiwan); 3rd row left; Clippen by MZDB (Korea) 3rd row right: Fallen leaf trays by HyunJoo Kim; Bottom: Hyper stone by Korean design students from Hanyang University


I spoke to a representative at Cambobag, a Taiwanese creative team that unites artists, designers and illustrators from different disciplines and aims to explore the impact art has on the world at large. I was particularly drawn by Zan design, a Taiwanese design studio that makes vessels and tableware inspired by the traditional enamel craftsmanship and technology. I love the colours, earthy and rustic tone of their copper and enamel vessels, and I think the copper and glaze give them a contemporary twist.

I was also happy to have met the husband and wife team behind Bonnsu, a design studio based in Taiwan. Adam is Swedish and Ai is Taiwanese but they met in the US while studying design. I really like their award-winning ceramic Reflections series inspired by architectural landmarks like Taj Mahal and the Kremlin. The sets not only are unique and eye-catching, they are also functional and well crafted.

From my observations, I firmly believe that the Taiwanese design scene is the most exciting one in Asia at the moment. I am continuing to discover inspiring designs that come from the hearts of the designers, and this is what makes them stand out from the rest. And as much as I love Japanese designs, I think that somehow they are losing their direction and edge, which is a real shame.


My design festival journey continues on...

This post was posted in London, Japanese design, Design festivals & shows, Anything Japanese, Taiwanese design, Contemporary craft, Korean design, Design and was tagged with Japanese designs, Tent London, Taiwanese design, contemporary crafts, London Design Festival