With more than 200 global brands spread around four exhibition spaces—including a square with eight life-size red monopoly houses—it’s hard to believe that designjunction was just one segment of the 2016 London Design Festival, which ran from September 17-25.
“We wanted to break the mold of a traditional trade show,” deputy director Will Sorrell told ArchiExpo. He explained that a key idea this year was challenging exhibitors “to engage visitors on different levels, not just showing,” by creating the monopoly houses, which offered interactive experiences including a virtual reality installation.
The central exhibition area, Cubitt House, was custom-built to host over 100 carefully selected companies, many of which seized the opportunity to showcase new products.
British designer Samuel Chan, founder of the Channels furniture brand, launched his Mr Knock collection—dedicated to a high school woodwork teacher who inspired him to take up the craft. He told ArchiExpo the concept is to enable people to “create their own environment” by making customized bookcases out of “modular” shelf units that stack up like building blocks.
The Mr Knock Bookcase I can serve a dual purpose as a separator to divide space, and the “Bookcase II” offers a sly optical illusion: A zigzag design means that from one side it looks like a wall, only revealing the books as you walk past and see it from another angle. The units are available in white oak or American black walnut as a contrasting color.
The Swedish lighting firm RUBN exhibited a variety of old and new pieces from its vast catalogue of more than 800 items. They were all created by Niclas Hoflin, who has no formal design training but now sells his work in 35 countries.
The Hunter floor lamp, sculpted from aluminum and iron with brass fittings, mimics the stance of a man sitting on a hill, gazing out over the countryside. The Nomad lamp was inspired by the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti’s distinctively thin sculptures of men and women.
“I always think about how to solve a problem, or how I feel when I enter a room,” Hoflin told ArchiExpo. He lives near the RUBN factory in the village of Vittsjo, which has just 1,500 inhabitants, and says that being so close to nature has given him a biblical respect for construction materials.
Another Scandinavian lighting company making a splash is Vita. The Copenhagen firm has been touring Europe with a glass van that displays its range of “affordable luxury” designs, many of which can be flat-packed for easier transportation and higher distribution volume.
The striking Eos range is finished with natural goose feathers, and numerous lamps are designed with flexibility in mind: They can function as hanging pendants from the ceiling, or sit on tripods as floor or table features. The company has also developed a smartphone app that lets customers visualize how a design will look in their home by superimposing adjustable lamp images onto photos of the space.