This year’s 100% Design made some new connections
This year’s 100% Design marked the rebirth of the show by its new organiser, Media 10, which pronounced it was intended to be a “design experience in itself, not just a trade event promoting it”. This meant that alongside the overwhelming number of brand-stands, there were also a few moments of non-commercial interest.
Responding to this year’s theme “inspiring connections” were a number of installations that played on this idea. Leading visitors into the centre of the exhibit was the Collider light installation by Neil Musson and Jono Retallick, which used LED videotape technology to make a network of tube lights that apparently referred to the silent communications between birds in flight. The main auditorium space was defined/confined by a lattice weave of translucent thread, designed by Paul Cocksedge.
The auditorium saw a series of lectures and seminars, including one on the role of design in helping the recovery of the UK economy. Hosted by the Design Council, it featured Ed Vaizey, Nick Bolton (of OMG) Clive Grinyer (of Cisco) and Medeia Cohan-Petrolino (who set up the school for Creative Start-ups).
The guests argued the merits of teaching aesthetics, the need for designers to understand manufacturing processes and basically tried to push a very bored-looking Vaizey into committing to provide more financial support to the creative industries.
Each of the four key industry sections also had its own “hub”. In the Kitchens & Bathrooms quarter, Aberrant Architecture reimagined the traditional “supper boxes” of the 17th and 18th centuries. The layered trellis-like structure marked out this take on a supper club that allegedly had “its own set of rules and traditions which visitors [would] adhere to” - as far as I could work out, this meant really expensive sushi, although this is probably the fault of the context rather than the concept.
Among the international pavilions I found On Our Doorsteps, a touring exhibition of local design activism. The organiser, Community21, aimed to present work from designers who are “re-engaging with defined localities as a means to make products, spaces and systems that offer more meaningful contributions to society, the economy and the environment”.
Projects included a scheme for Mare Street in Hackney where residents would be given flat-pack 1:100 scale models of buildings along the street in the hope that this would spark up a conversation about the future of the street and promote a sense of ownership. There was also a proposal for how to tackle the Olympic legacy via the re-use of the ubiquitous blue fence.
The event also marked the launch of Yo! Home, the latest venture from Simon Woodroffe, the creator of Yo! Sushi, as he attempts to take over the world. This was hotly anticipated and there were consistent queues to get into the 22sq m prototype that Woodroffe promised offers the equivalent amount of space to a 167sq m apartment. Visitors rushed around the “flat”, trying not to end up standing on the wine cellar or the Japanese-inspired dining table as they rose out of the floor.