London Design Festival: Brilliant Brits, fantastic furniture and a global showcase

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The London Design Festival (LDF) has been in full swing for the last few days, but to cover all of this marauding beast would take a dedicated editorial team much larger than we could muster, hence our condensed highlights reel below.

We can’t extol just how much you should visit London during this week, where every year all manner of the nation’s design is celebrated – beginning with London Fashion Week, LDF takes over midweek, and Open House provides an architectural climax on the final few days.

Although concentrating on the British aspect, the week has masses of space for the international community, from Norway’s contribution to 100% Design, to the launch of the exciting World Design Capital Cape Town 2014.

Fine furnishings

The Y Chair by Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon unveiled his latest chair – a ‘mass produced’, faceted-back, glass-reinforced nylon, stackable seat.

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It has masses of character for a piece of furniture that is to be used in the contract market, and shows the continued strength of Tom Dixon’s studio in working with digital design methods for tooling and materials.

Never seeming to stop, the man himself has launched a book of his works, is expanding the interior design service they offer, and has contributed to a capsule collection for Adidas.

However it’s his use of 3D design tools and digital manufacturing that excites us about his work.

Psalt Design’s Atlas table

On a less heralded stage, amongst the throngs at Tent, was Psalt Design and Daniel Schofield’s work on a joint stand.

Having ventured down from Sheffield with their products – the lovely Atlas bench and table, and Schofield’s Tool Stools and Arundel Pendent lights – they formed part of a new Northern collective that proves good designers needn’t be a stones throw from Buckingham Palace.

This was enforced by Made North’s exhibition at the Design Council headquarters – where amongst others David Irwin and Swifty Scooters had their very British products on display.

Watching the watchman

Matthew Hilton’s watch

Ordinarily Matthew Hilton would be situated amongst the best British furniture designers, yet this year he has instead decided to try his hand at watchmaking.

The CNC machined timepiece is as part industrial heritage as it is minimalist structure. Made from the best materials, by skilled machine operators without any of the superfluity of many modern wristwatches.

The solid, stainless steel, bead-blasted finish is as manly as a lumberjack wrestling a bear, but the fine finish and simplicity means it could be worn with a dinner jacket.

Cape Town celebrations

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The biggest international draw for us was not one of the giant Scandinavian furniture makers, or Italian kitchenware companies, but the launch of Cape Town as the 2014 World Design Capital.

For the entire year the city will unveil all that is great about South African design. From the gargantuan SKA radio telescope, to the innovation of the people living in its poorer neighbourhoods, the delegation that appeared at LDF had us excited about what would be coming next year.

Design ‘capitals’ always seem to be restricted to the same old cities and continents – London, Paris, Milan, New York – so nothing could make us happier than seeing the people of Cape Town get their chance to shine.