for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant


The Truman Brewery was bursting with creative talent for London Design Week last weekend. From 100% East, Talentzone, In Production, (re) Design, and Design Mais, we felt exhausted by the huge amount of work on display. It was almost a relief to be told that we couldn’t go into the too-full New Designers Selection exhibition!

There was a great array of ideas on show, mostly from graduate designers and young design companies, showing a wealth of products- the main recurrent themes of which seemed to be the importance of creating honesty in materials; a continuation of the movement towards traditional crafts such as ceramics; adding an importance and beauty to products through hidden aspects of design; and unique space-saving designs, with humour playing an ever-important role.

As a brief round-up here are my favourite products from each show; items and designers that I think will be important to the future of product design-


Luis Eslava’s USB saint, called ‘Oh Maria Keep my Data Safe’- a religious icon as memory stick which poses the idea of computers being the new religion

Img_0742Giles Miller’s fluted corrugated cardboard laptop case, which ‘gives you the chance to show the world that you care about sustainable design’.


Ali Cayless’ Rememberance Sideboard, with a series of secret openings and ‘hidden surpsrises’ such as personalised felt designs on the inside, drawing on the idea of childhood exitement and posessional values.

Img_0748Emiko Oki’s Salty Bell brings fun to the dinner table by taking a glass bell and adding holes along the rim to create a salt or pepper shaker which you ring for seasoning!
Her Trophy Tableware set is also an ingenious use of design- a set of simple stylish crockery that stacks together to create a trophy. Her pieces aim to ‘add to the dining experience, and to function aesthetically whilst not in use’

Talent Zone, a specially selected showcase of the best UK design graduates-

-Kathryn Hennesy’s take on garden gnomes- recreating the ceramic figurines holding machine guns, shows a subversive twist on an English classic


Tomasz Donocik’s ‘A Hero of Our Time’ horsehair and gold horsehead jewellery pieces for men were disturbingly beautiful

Img_0763Angel Ha’s interactive ceramics seen in her ‘Peel to Reveal’ crockery, envite you to rub the surface to remove top layer and reveal a different world of design underneath


Ernie Bakker’s Spira table is based on the old-style giant spiragraph sets- placed on top of a tablecloth, where the coaster, placemat and food stand all interact to provide artistic entertainment during your meal.


Shiv Kumar’s elegant table plays with the idea hidden beauty and peeling away the wood to reveal hidden colour.

In Production– exhibition curated by trend consultancy The Future Laboratory showcasing their selection of the best of contemporary British design in production, cleverly displayed as a peep-show

-Paint By Numbers Wallpaper by Jenny Wilkinson has already been lauded as a design classic

Timorous_beastiesTimorous Beasties fabrics- having won numerous design awards for their depiction of contemporary images on traditional textiles such as their Glasgow and London toiles, this textile design company is going from strength to strength


– ‘Lady Lush’ blown glass decanters by Romy Westwood look at British manufacturing traditions, challenging the idea of ornamental and functional objects.


– ‘Else’ leather benches by Julia Lohmann are made of a single cowhide and shaped to represent a cow, exploring the threshold between animal and material


-‘Villosus’ porcelain andhorsehair vases, and ‘Candle 1’ all wax candle and candelabra by Fredrikson Stallard. The company describe their pieces as “Fairy tales for grown ups; combining simple surface narratives with underlying themes of opulent and sensual darkness.”

Design Mais, curated by Max Fraser, was showcasing the best of Portuguese design and production collaborations. A clever way of attracting attention to the manufacturers as well as the designers, pieces displayed information from both.


-‘Soho’ multi-design chest of drawers by Pedro Sonsa, produced by Menina Design

-‘Miss Moon’ White Armchairs produced by Truffa for Sensicasa, pained pink underneath to produce a coloured glow

-‘Homesick Kit’ suitcase by Lilia Borges, Helena Silva &Joao Loureiro, and produced by Li&Fung- a company that integrates textiles, ceramics and glass sectors

(re) Design exhibition looked at eco-design products from a range of companies who utilise ecological and ethical design paths. The brochure asks ‘Can gorgeous design also be good- for you, for others and for the environment?’. A mixture of new and slightly older design ideas, there were a couple of great ideas that looked at the efficient use of materials.

-8’ x 4’ by Richard Broom Designs, which creates a chair, coffee table, dining table and picture frame out of a single 8’ x 4’ ply sheet

-‘Reholstered’ by Space Oddity who had taken an old office chair and given it a new lease of life by attaching a handcrafted ash seat and back, playing with the ideas of man-made and machine mass-production.

-Book bookcase by Carpenter & Carpenter which uses second-hand books instead of wood to create a wall-mounted bookcase

-Big Crush by Studiomold, where  crushed plastic bottles are re-used and stacked into a tower to make a lamp


-Luggage Sofa by Love Me Twice who have taken an old suitcase and upholstered the inside to create a portable sofa!

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