for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

LONDON DESIGN WEEK: DESIGNERSBLOCK

Img_0733London Design Week would not be complete without seeing the young international designers showcased in the empty Nicholls and Clarke building on Shoreditch high street by Designersblock. The least known of the established shows,  this exhibition still managed to pack a a pretty strong punch, with a wide array of original and intelligent products on offer.

As always humorous, quirky products were abundant. Those we preferred included design duo Mixko’s
‘Goal’ t-shirts printed on the inside so that when your team scores the hidden text is revealed in celebration! Mixko’s objective is “to create items that inspire happiness and possess a satisfying simplicity”, and it’s definitely achieved here.

Dejana Kabiljo’s ‘Pretty Pretty’ stools, covered with dyed horsehair wigs, are both disturbing and beautiful. Her products play with the idea of beauty and “search for the innovation on the level of human behaviour”, and Dejana plans to pursue this theme with a variety Pasta_per_metre_1of hairstyles and furniture.

Seven Squatters, a group of industrial design graduates from Central St Martins showed some great ideas including ‘Who Tall are You’ by Ismaril Wells which looks at the evaluation of self image, stating “no matter how short you consider yourself to be you’ll always be taller than Img_0711someone great” and ‘Measure Your Pleasure’ by Marina Lariviere, looking at food habits and attitude- inside the packaging is roll of fresh pasta with recipes printed in edible ink running every 50cm to enable not only the preparation of healthy meals but also the consumption of the recommended amount. Marina explained the idea as a do-it-yourself approach, a food version of Ikea!

Looking at adapting religion into 21st century lifestyles is Soner Ozenc’s digital prayer mat, using flexible technology that lights up when pointed in the direction of Mecca. The designer explained how the aim was to combine tradition and contemporary pixel arts, trying to evoke an emotional atmosphere whilst creating a fully functioning product. The item is currently in production and will be launched in a couple of months.

iTattoo is another idea by the same designer; a customisation engraving service for your gadgets “transforming your product into a unique art piece”

Img_0727Combining design and art, Scott Garcia’s ‘Embedded Meanings’ concrete tables combine functional objects in an elegant way and display the decorative potential of concrete.

Eco friendly design is taken to a different level in the Wattson by DIY Kyoto (seen also at the Digital Wellbeing Showroom). The product’s primary function is to read how many watts each appliance in your house uses, bur also sits as a piece of design in its own right.

Space saving designs were showcased by Japanese design group Link- Nobuhira Teshima’s ‘Mobile Dining’ is a cupboard on wheels that folds out concertina-style into a large table, and Hiroshi Ujiie’s ‘Hanger Mirror’ combines the two essential items in an elegant, simplified manner.

Guinea Pig Design have created conceptual products “with the aim of challenging existing human behaviour via alternative methodologies” – ‘On The Shelf’ is a row of glass boxes each containing a single fake flower individually and randomly lit. The designers describe it as ‘each fake flower awaits its turn in the spotlight, dreaming of celebrity status for more than a few momentary seconds’ – I wonder what point they’re trying to make here!!!

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Others to watch out for- Deus ex Machina
– an international group of designers looking to transform objects away from public preconceptions and bring an element of surprise, such as mounting them on remote controlled wheels, as the designers say ‘Imagine if objects escaped when you tried to touch them’.

Img_0724_1Also showing as part of Designersblock was DMA (Design Metiers d’art)- a french organisation that organises collaborations between designers and craftsmen with an aim to developing local economies and highlighting the craft professions, or as they say “set up as a source of and catalyst for new economic, social and cultural singularity and identity.”. This was their first show of work and focussed on copper and silversmiths working alongside a mix of graduate and established designers, with the next planned show to be a collaboration with designers and basketmakers.

So many talented young international designers under one roof, where else but London do you get such great brain food!

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