It’s the London Design Festival, so we were off to Olympia to visit 100% Design and the capital did a very typical and un-chic thing of starting to rain. Fortunately on reaching this stalwart design expo, I quickly forgot about the dismal weather and was soon plunged into a visually stimulating delight.
On arrival you’re greeted by a stunning Max Fraser installation that hangs from the ceiling and, for me, carried associations of quite a few beloved things: Bauhaus Ballet, New Order’s ‘True Faith’ video, the Futurist movement and my two-year-old’s minimalist primary-coloured wooden toys from IKEA (that are nowhere near as engaging to a toddler as some neon plastic, of course) to name only a few.
This piece, part of the theme of ‘Elements of Design’, does great work in drawing your attention to the magnificent glass roof of Olympia Grand and, on the particular early evening I was there, a glorious sky of pink clouds against the deepening blue. Those of us in events might know this Kensington venue inside out, but it truly never ceases to amaze me.
I quickly snaffled an Architonic canvas tote bag (a girl can never have too many) into which went my copy of ICON magazine with its current Camilla Walala-designed cover. I’ve followed Walala’s work for a couple of years now and am delighted to note that the artist and her signature look are really central to this year’s festival.
Sandra Porto from Media10, the organisers of this show (and indeed a whole portfolio of design events, including Clerkenwell Design Week and Grand Designs Live), kindly gave me an edited highlights tour of the exhibition during the 100% Design late night party and drinks.
I also had the pleasure of meeting event director and Media10 co-founder Daren Newton whose humour is as sharp as his suit. Newton told me that for anyone in the design industry, the Thursday night social at the event is a ‘must attend’ and that despite the Europop turned up and the drinks flowing, networking is most certainly done. “Exhibitors come up to me and say, you know, I actually did business last night!”
As I left, refreshed by two craft beers from Cervezas Alhambra, the whole place had the vibe of a very soignée nightclub.
100% Design is at Olympia London until Saturday.