Tent London

Next on our London Design Festival itinerary, Tent London & SuperBrands London, in the Old Truman Brewery, off Brick Lane. Although two separate shows, they both share the same entrance area and talks arena, enabling visitors to see two shows under one roof in an impressive exhibition space.

SuperBrands London is the interiors trade fair for established global design brands. After its success last year, the show was double the size this year, with a stellar line up of brands in conjunction with a daily programme of inspirational seminars.

Tent London has been an ever-evolving design show for six years and it gets bigger and better, this time bringing together over 200 international exhibitors from over 26 countries. From established independents, to new-finds, the show featured the latest furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles, materials and accessories; alongside presentations from Country Pavilions such as Hungary, Norway, Taiwan, Japan and The Netherlands.

Pitfield London, part of the artisan café culture, set up an inspired gathering place for work and socialising, with a welcoming cushioned rest place for weary feet. Spot the recycled pallets and wooden packing crates!

We set out in search of eco-friendly designs and products made in more sustainable ways. Here is just some of what we discovered…

Zoe Murphy launches a new series of furniture and textile pieces entitled ‘Brilliant Print’. Zoe’s graphic imagery is inspired by her home town of Margate, the sea side holiday place which is now enjoying a revival as Kent’s new cultural heart, thanks, in part, to the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery. Zoe’s work too is about rejuvenation and loving what belongs to you. She reuses furniture and textiles in an ethical and upbeat fashion.

With careful restoration she shows the potential of second hand and damaged materials. She prints onto fabric, wood, glass and laminates. It wouldn’t in fact be an obscure idea for Zoe to think of applying the same process to a floor, a wall, a car, or a person. This love of indiscriminately printing onto everything that sits still, marries perfectly with the other driving force behind her work – her huge compulsion to try and reduce waste. The collection uses recycled timber, fair trade and organic cottons and low impact, water based and solvent free inks and varnishes.

Local makers have turned handles and legs for the pieces, from English hardwoods, and even the luxuriously padded drawers use 100% English waste wool. In these pieces, every step has been taken to make the products as responsibly as possible.

In just a short time since graduating from Loughborough University, Zoe has established herself in a competitive field. She shows at exhibitions and events around the country and sells work to clients, galleries and stores, including Liberty of London.

Sebastian Cox is an award-winning designer furniture maker, currently based in Lincolnshire, who is very interested in environmental sustainability. His collection of furniture is made from coppiced hazel. Hazel is abundant in the UK and is a very fast growing plant, it can reach 5 feet in its first growing season. Coppicing is a method of woodland maintenance and, if managed correctly, can provide an inexhaustable supply.

Sebastian has grown up surrounded by nature and has always had a passion for working with wood. He thinks designers have a responsibility to be sustainable and would like to encourage other designers to consider using coppiced materials. He also wants to raise awareness among consumers about the material.

The design process for him is focused around the workshop. He enjoys finding out how the wood responds to various processes. His products reflect the way hazel grows, it’s very strong and has a fine grain and he generally goes for a soft and lightweight aesthetic. The few colours that he uses are achieved using natural dyes.

Sebastian’s work is currently stocked in  Liberty of London and other shops around the country.

We visited the lovely people at Mini Moderns, Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire, who create fabulous collections of eco friendly wallpaper, printed with non-toxic, water-based inks, on paper from FSC certified forests.

Now they’ve created this “Reclaimed, Responsible & Resplendent” paint range of Mini Moderns colours, to co-ordinate with their wallpapers and soft furnishings.

Their specialist paint manufacturers have reprocessed waste water-based paint to create a premium grade matt emulsion and – as Mini Moderns are experts in pattern and colour – we’d expect them to be gorgeous. Of course they are!

The way they displayed the colours was nifty too – as painted stools – so you could really get an idea of how they would look. All products in the range contain up to 90% recycled content, made up from waste paint that has been diverted from landfill or incineration.

Based in Hackney, The Rag and Bone Manalias metal-grubber and designer Paul Firbank, and Lizzie Gossling, make lamps, furniture and other useful things, out of scrap material.

Paul loves searching through scrap, as he never knows what he’ll find to inspire him. He has boxes of car parts, bike parts, different machine parts – “it’s a bit of a compulsion really” – and he can now rely on what he makes in his workshop to make a living.

The work is inspired largely by Art Deco and the Machine Age. Each piece is unique, fabricated using a wide variety of skills, including welding, brazing, polishing, lacquering and various patinas.

Their chandelier has 18 copper arms with light bowls, which have been made from fire extinguishers that are cut, stripped and polished. The central body of the chandelier is the crank case front cover of a Lycoming R680 radial engine (that’s an aeroplane engine to us clueless!) Watch out for The Rag and Bone Man this Sunday, when he’ll be featured on Channel 4’s series with Kevin McCloudMan Made Home.

We spoke to Chris Haughton of Node, a non-profit social business who’s aim is to combine great design with great fair trade projects in order to make as much impact as possible. Among other things, they are teaming eighteen well known designers and illustrators with one of Nepal’s founding fair trade groups, to create an impressive collection of rugs for the Design Museum Shop, UK.

All the rugs are made from pure Tibetan wool. The wool is hand spun into thread and hand dyed with natural and non-polluting dyes.

Node believe that ‘trade not aid’ is the best solution to the poverty trap in the developing world. There are difficult issues in countries where there is no social security. The illiterate, unskilled and disabled are unable to educate their children, which results in a cycle that is difficult to escape from. The Node project is designed to provide work to these people and schooling to their children.

For more eco friendly talent from Tent London & SuperBrands London, see their websites  http://www.tentlondon.co.uk/ http://www.superbrandslondon.co.uk/