The Surface Design Show | Reviewed by Anthony Hughes

The Surface Design Show is held at the Business Design Centre every year in London.  The ‘Home of Innovative Surfaces for Architects and Interior Designers’, the show focuses exclusively on surface solutions for interior and exterior applications ranging from wallcoverings and glass, to concrete, ceiling systems, veneers, metals, and stone.  It’s quite a small show, in comparison to last months Interiors show, and is certainly do-able in an afternoon.

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University of Huddersfield at SD Show 2012

As a recent graduate of the University of Huddersfield, I was also exhibiting at the show on stand 296.  Industrious Senescence formed part of the Uni’s What If? concept stand, exploring material curiosity and showcasing developments in wood, concrete, and rubber.  Alongside glass and carpet designs of the current 2nd year students, sat Helen Dumkow’s fantastic collection of products made from elastic bands.  Lights, wall, and floor coverings were all part of Helen’s final major project; printed, dyed, threaded, weaved … she used a variety of different techniques to create extraordinary new products.

I’ve said this before in my New Designers round up, but I still think Helen’s printed elastic band Frugs look superb mingled in with my flooring concept!

Concrete, soft and hard!

There were some fantastic concrete products at the show this year, really pushing the boundaries of innovation.  Three companies were standout for me; first up, Charles Stone on the Corporion stand who has captured lace in concrete in minute detail.  Available in white, ivory, and grey, the tiles feature either bold or fine lace.

Charles Stone decorative lace tiles from Corporion.  Background: Bold lace in grey and ivory; fine lace in grey (inset)

Graphic Relief and Gray Concrete were the other two exhibitors who really caught my eye.  Graphic Relief have developed moulds that can capture very fine surface detail, suitable for both interior and exterior uses i.e. façades, tiles, and cladding.  They have collaborated with a number of designers, most notably Timorous Beasties.  Gray Concrete displayed some interesting surface finishes including acid etching, colour casting, and embossing, creating a range of textures and detailing.

Left column: Products from Graphic Relief incl. collaborations with Timorous Beasties (top) and Yehrin Tong (bottom).  Right column: Gray Concrete surface finishes incl. acid etch (top), pattern from photograph (middle), and casting (bottom).  Far right: cast in embossed text

Vibrant Optical Illusions!

Interlam, who are based in the US, presented their sculpted wall panels at the show.  A very large stand showcased some fantastic patterns but these Sixties, Op Art looking panels from their Art Diffusion range (below) made your eyes go all funny!

Mundy Veneers also had some trippy looking natural wood veneers at stand 398.  Their new Tabu Caleidolegno range in zigzags and bright neon colours was a real break from the norm.

Future Thinking

Future Thinking was a new area at this years show that explored developments in materials for design and architecture.  The British economy was explored by textile artist Sue Edwards, her reaction to the climate – Coin Curtain.

Quite controversial in her use of materials and techniques, Sue’s Coin Curtain, from the Spend a Penny collection, uses urine, blood, and fire to “express Britain’s abysmal financial situation”.  As featured in this week’s Trend Arrival posting, I really loved the Edgy Tiles at Future Thinking.  A series of 3D tiles made of asymmetrical surfaces folding into a hexagonal base, providing an alternative to flat wall solutions.

Faded Grandeur

A number of products at this years show evoked a sense of aged golds and bronze patinas.  Fabric wallcoverings, glass, and even metals, came together to create a very grand, yet weathered look.  Rimex Metals had a great ColourTex finish applied to their bead blasted stainless steel, whilst Daedalian Glass showed some very aged surfaces trapped in glass.

Left to right: Fabric wallcoverings from Altfield; Pippin stainless steel from Rimex (inset); Pearlized steel wallcovering from Vescom; Glass from Daedalian

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As ever, great thanks to Anthony for another fabulous show review.  Stop by on Monday when Victoria and Shelley will be celebrating the 3 year anniversary of the Trends Blog!

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