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September 23, 2009

While the main venue hosting the 100% Design trade fair is at Earl's Court in West London, more than 200 events and exhibitions are scattered across the British capital during the nine-day London Design Festival. One of the more concentrated areas is the Brompton Design District in West London, and earlier this week I joined a tour of the area.

Plopp stool by Oskar Zieta for HAY
Oskar Zieta's Plopp stool inspired Miska Miller-Lovegrove to curate the Young Creative Poland show.
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Dick Van Hoff's Tile Stove for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, currently on display at Gallery Libby Sellers.
Dick Van Hoff's Tile Stove for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, currently on display at Gallery Libby Sellers.
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Swedish duo Folkform's latest collection, Hidden Layers, as part of Mint Gallery's Escapists exhibition.
Swedish duo Folkform's latest collection, Hidden Layers, as part of Mint Gallery's Escapists exhibition.
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The Roughed Up collection is a new spin on Rabih Hage's Rough Luxe hotel in central London.
The Roughed Up collection is a new spin on Rabih Hage's Rough Luxe hotel in central London.
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Plopp stool by Oskar Zieta for HAY
Oskar Zieta's Plopp stool inspired Miska Miller-Lovegrove to curate the Young Creative Poland show.

The tour was led by Anna Stewart and Jane Withers, the curator of In Praise of Shadows, an exhibition on European lighting design on view at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) for the duration of the festival.

The tour was led by Anna Stewart and Jane Withers, the curator of In Praise of Shadows, an exhibition on European lighting design on view at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) for the duration of the festival.

 The first stop was Young Creative Poland, an exhibition curated by Miska Miller-Lovegrove that features emerging designers in architecture, graphic design and street art. It's refreshing to see good design coming out of a country that isn't necessarily associated with a strong design tradition. Highlights included the rather amusingly named “Plopp”stool, created by Oskar Zieta for Danish manufacturer Hay (above). The stool, which won the 2008 red dot award, is made of two ultra-thin steel plates welded together around the edges. High-pressure air is shot into the unit, causing the steel to expand into the desired shape. Although the technique is similar to manufacturing processes used in the automotive industry and allows for mass production, each piece is one of a kind. Other noteworthy pieces were Beton's wooden church and Tomek Rygalik's genotype lighting made of Corian.

Dick Van Hoff's Tile Stove for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, currently on display at Gallery Libby Sellers.
Dick Van Hoff's Tile Stove for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, currently on display at Gallery Libby Sellers.
Next up was Belgian designer Dick Van Hoff's work, on display at Gallery Libby Sellers. Sellers, formerly a curator at the Design Museum, operates what she describes as a “pop-up gallery.” For London Design Festival, she has appropriated a former car park and turned it into a living room of sorts populated by Van Hoff's rather sturdy-yet-charming furnishings. Some pieces, such as van Hoff's wood-burning tile stove for Dutch porcelain manufacturer Royal Tichelaar Makkum (right), launched earlier this year while several objects were commissioned by Sellers specifically for the exhibition.

Just next door was the newly reopened Mint gallery, featuring The Escapists, a curated gathering of work by “modern day storytellers” who explore imaginary worlds through design. The project is in collaboration with Max Fraser, editor of the Annual London Design Guide 2009. Among the objects were pieces from the Hidden Layers collection, including a side table (below) and cupboard by Folkform, a Stockholm–based industrial design studio. Chandra Ahlsell and Anna Holmquist, who run the studio, are extremely interested in material experimentation—they discovered the screen-printed patterns featured on the pieces behind layers of peeling wallpaper in an old apartment in a Stockholm suburb.

Swedish duo Folkform's latest collection, Hidden Layers, as part of Mint Gallery's Escapists exhibition.
Swedish duo Folkform's latest collection, Hidden Layers, as part of Mint Gallery's Escapists exhibition.

The Roughed Up collection is a new spin on Rabih Hage's Rough Luxe hotel in central London.
The Roughed Up collection is a new spin on Rabih Hage's Rough Luxe hotel in central London.
There were several other stops on the tour, including the Everyday Life Collector exhibition by Max Lamb and Rabih Hage's Roughed Up exhibition at his gallery on Sloane Ave. Brompton Design District reflected the biggest problem of the London Design Festival – there's so much going on, you constantly feel like you're missing out on something else.

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