A couple of weeks ago I visited the Planted design show, part of the London Design Festival. Billed as “the first contemporary design show reconnecting people and spaces with nature,” it was a fabulous showcase for natural materials, traditional craft, and sustainable design.
I’ve always believed in natural materials, and also marvelled at how things are made and the beauty of craft. This was a chance to learn more about the sustainability story of these products too, and to talk directly with the designers and makers about the backgrounds to their work and their designs.
Here are some of my highlights…
The world probably doesn’t need more chairs, but if we do then they might as well be as beautiful and elegant as the ‘Ovo’ chair by Foster & Partners, made by Benchmark. Softly sculpted and generously proportioned, this is a super-comfortable chair which is also life-cycle carbon-negative.
Sand Buchanan is a furniture maker and sculptor who creates beautiful pieces of furniture. Working with the natural materials in a way which tells rather than hides their story, his work to overcome what other makers might consider imperfections is beautiful.
Here he inserts ties into the smoked oak timber to stop natural splits from opening as the table ages. To my eyes this enriches the natural materials further, and is a continuation of the timber’s story. And it ensures the material is used in a valuable way, rather than wasted.
Another wonderful new piece from Benchmark is the ‘Smile’ stool by Jaime Hayon. Made from cherry timber, two of the legs joints are traditionally expressed through to the top, whilst the handle included for easy moving makes for a beaming grin.
Cork is one of the most sustainable materials available to us, as its harvesting doesn’t harm the trees from which it’s taken. Here it’s used in the Cork Paper Bin by Danish maker Form & Refine. The soft cork holds its shape but gently crumples to make the soft paper bin, or in fact something which could hold or carry around anything you like. To me this is truly exceptional design, where the nature of the material is an intrinsic part of both the character and the functionality of the finished object.
Fabrics woven from recycled materials have been around for a while, although their feel and finishing wasn’t always close to the level we’ve come to expect from working with so many beautiful textiles on our projects. That’s changing now, and the latest designs from Yarn Collective are perfect examples. They showed a range of gorgeous fabrics in beautiful colourings, and with compositions of up to 100% recycled (and recyclable) fibres.
This is just a taste of what was a great show. It’s one which I hope and expect to go from strength to strength and I’m looking forward to the next one…