Last week we headed down to London for the Surface Design Show at the Business Design Centre in Islington. On the train journey there I decided to write a post based around my 6 favourite finds at the show that connected with current trends, but on arrival it was obvious that 6 was not going to be enough. This boutique-scale show was full of fascinating surface products and so here are all my favourite finds from across the show:
I spotted this amazing leather panel (above left) on the Pintark by LOCO Design booth. Based in India, they describe themselves as “Specialising in advanced surface treatment and crafted material application”. Their booth was filled with a diverse range of surface designs attached to their modular panel system. This particular 3D leather panel reminded me of mushrooms or dried flowers … stunning!
I was fascinated to discover the Metalier booth displaying panels that showcased how their product can turn virtually any surface into real metal! Basically if you can apply paint to a material, either by spraying or brushing, you can apply Metalier to it … from cloth to polished concrete! It’s an ingenious product comprised of 95% pure metal and will last 20-25 years! This lace surface (above left) was getting all the attention on their booth. Lace has been a big trend again since the royal wedding, and has even pushed through into makeup trends. Now we’re seeing a host of products in stores that mimic lace patterns and textures, from tableware to wallpaper … and even baking products!
It’s always exciting and inspiring to see the booth put together by The University of Huddersfield (above). For several years, design students whose work is a direct result of industry collaboration have been selected to exhibit at the show. Although it’s been a great showcase for the students work, and has often resulted in placements and sponsored projects, it’s been a challenge to directly convert their ideas into commissions and cash! So a Senior Lecturer at the University, Joanne Harris, launched IDEAShaus – a commercial enterprise working to help students gain commissions or sell their work to companies. 4 students brought the booth alive with their work this year … let’s take a closer look:
Alice McBride showcased the work from her final major project at University, which was one of my favourite projects when we attended the opening night last summer. Her work is inspired by the relationship between nature and industrialism, and she uses a fusion of Gothic architecture and “free living botanicals” to create intricate patterns. Layers of soft paint strokes and strict geometrics are joined together to create unique wall panels. Some of this collection was a collaboration with Daedalian Glass Studios and experimented with how laser cut materials reacted to being trapped in glass. Alice’s latest project ‘ORIGIN’ was also displayed and was really extraordinary work. It has an ordered calmness that I absolutely loved and it was so easy to envision this work as intricate privacy screens/space dividers in a chic bar or hotel in the likes of Dubai; backlit as a wall panel in a retail department; or as table tops in a restaurant!
Samantha Stewart recently completed an MA Textiles at the University of Huddersfield. She uses a variety of weaving looms to create fabric structures that effectively “trap ephemera from social waste” (such as zips and nails) to make a creative connection with the textile traditions of the people of Kohistan, who use redundant objects to decorate textiles. From these unusual woven pieces Samantha produces digital imagery to decorate fabrics, and then upholsters seating pieces with these fabrics.
Over the past few years we’ve been exploring Glitch Art in our trend reports and Samantha’s work was strangely reminiscent of this aesthetic … disrupted patterns that have the appearance of electrical interference and contained energy. Look out for more of these types of mis-registered, glitch patterns over the next year.
Emma Linney displayed her final major project from her Honors Degree show. Entitled ‘Surface Tactility’ it explored 4 main techniques for creating imagery, which comprised of CNC routing, laser-cutting, UV printing and screen printing. These techniques were combined to create surfaces that have both visually and tactile appeal. Emma’s work is ideal for large wall panels and I’d love to see her commissioned to create pieces for a hotel lobby, a fashion accessories or jewelery store, or even an independent coffee shop.
It’s interesting that we’ve seen laser-cutting techniques trending strongly in product design at shows around the world, but I haven’t seen printed pattern used to forge such a close relationship with laser-cut pattern before. It’s something I’ll be keeping a look out for in other Designer’s work because my trend senses are tingling!
Rebekah Hutchinson recently gained a BA Honors Degree in Surface Design for Fashion and Interiors. Her ‘Endless Abstraction’ collection comprised a series of unique wall coverings created using screen printing, hand printing, laser-etching and UV printing. The resulting intricately multi-layered abstract patterns blend and bleed into one another and the surface of the plywood base material. The finished panels seemed to me to have both botanical and industrial qualities, and it’s a mix I really like – the natural textures and motif are so intermixed with the raw, crumbling, weathered surfaces that it’s hard to tell which is which. And this whole concept of developing a new relationship with nature in our urban environment is essential to current future design trends.
Rebekah’s designs are begging to be blown-up to become large-scale wall panels and, as you can see above, they would provide a very contemporary, gritty/botanical backdrop to a coffee shop, bistro or restaurant.
On our travels to exhibitions, from Décor + Design in Melbourne to Index in Dubai, we get to see a lot of products that enable nature to be brought indoors – whether it’s a commercial, retail, hospitality or residential setting. Caged plant pot privacy screens; felt plant pocket walls; ceramic planter wall tiles … we’ve seen them all! But Bright Green brought something to the show the likes of which we hadn’t seen before. They call it Vertical Pod. It’s a system that can be used with live or artificial plants, inside or outside, and it can be used against a wall or as free standing screening. And as you can see from the photo above, a row of Vertical Pods can work brilliantly as an unusual space divider or privacy screen, and is a great alternative to a traditional green wall.
Look out for the whole issue of Privacy being addressed by product designers in a big way over the next few years. It’s a hot topic in design circles at the moment as people begin to seek out greater privacy in all areas of their lives, including of course their online presence.
I was delighted to see Caroline Hough Design exhibiting again this year and I finally got to meet the lady herself. Caroline produces interior and exterior surfaces using bio resins, Jesmonite and native timbers like Elm. Her work is both texturally raw, often exploiting the natural forms of the weathered timbers, and minimalist in its smooth simplicity. To me it epitomises a new design trend relating to ‘controlled rusticity’ (something we explore in detail in our Spring/Summer 2017 trend report). Put simply, I love Caroline’s work – the marriage of materials and the complimentary contrasts that exist between textures and colours. Everything about the surfaces she creates is deeply considered and precise, and yet she seems to leave space for natural processes and chance. It’s a way of working that requires confidence and experience, as well as respect for the materials she works with. My favourite surface on her modest booth brought together bio resin and pieces of hexagonal timber … everything about it was right.
Pladec is a Portuguese manufacture of architectural decorative high-end panels for wall coverings and furniture applications. Their product development work is fantastic and they have a keen on current and future trends. We’ve showcased several of their panels on our Trends Hubs including at TISE in Las Vegas.
When it comes to innovative, on-trend metal or wood panels I think their range is second to none.
At the show this year they exhibited several ultra-oxidized metal effects that really caught my eye, as well as tessellated tile formations and blue-toned wood panels … if you were at my seminar or Trend Tours at TISE this year then you’ll remember that blue-toned wood was one of my top tips for flooring in 2017.
(For UK enquiries contact Kolourful Creative Solutions)