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Jan-Carlos Kucharek

I don’t know if it’s the Olympics, but there is a definite sense that London is design a-buzz, if the crowds at the three events I attended are anything to go by. Opening night crowds stretched back along New Oxford Street for designjunction, and once the hip young things had squeezed past the two Maseratis conspicuously parked in the foyer, it was three floors of bedlam-on-the-rocks with a slice of lemon please.

We had expresso bars, prosecco bars and a particularly crowded Macallan whisky bar serving double shots of single malt – a heady libation to the design nation. But I preferred the dram of 18 year-old Highland Park I received courtesy of furniture designer John Galvin as he showed me a beautiful 200 year old elm sideboard, beautifully held together with stunning dovetails inlaid into the original slice of timber.
We were illuminated with sexy lip-shaped lights of stretched nylon, classic Gubi Lights, big and bold paper shades by Anthony Dickens and an outrageous (and outrageously expensive) Baccarat chandelier posing as an umbrella. Jeremy Dyson meanwhile catered to the architect’s fetish with his touch-sensitive task light, modelled on the movement of a parallel motion. And if all that light was making you want to close your eyes, you could park yourself in Dejana Kabiljo’s gold galvanised seat, created from the springs of abandoned mattresses in Belgrade. It was a re-use that reminded me of my time in Tokyo when, spotting them fly-tipped, I intended to write a bed-time read entitled ‘Forgotten futons of old Edogawa’…
We were also huddled up cheek-by-jowl at Tent London and Superbrands, on Brick Lane, the second floor of which was almost completely products based. Loads to see here. Personal favourites – some great work by the University of Stoke producing their high-end Flux ceramics that are a fresh twist on the area’s great pottery traditions. How well can the Japanese make a cardboard box? Junko Yoshimori’s Design and Paper Engineerings have mitred paper layers in a manner that raises cardboard to art; their boxes within a box is a celebration of empty space on Zen levels. Mamikim’s multi-sliding crafted ‘ADAPTable’ timber table is like a high-class Black and Decker Workmate, and New York’s UBS Design’s mirror stainless steel pendants were like digitised, chrome clouds. I can’t wait for when they’re also available in enamelled black.
German firm Front showcased rug designer Jan Kath’s latest creations, ‘Erased Heritage’- hand-made Nepalese wool rugs, the distress of ages purposefully woven in. You’d never have thought, which is what makes them so beautiful. Kubikoff’s dressers on wheels that emulate HGV doors are hilarious, and every bit as heavy as you’d imagine. Last but not least, to count down to next year’s LDF, you’ve played the app to death, but what better than the bubble wrap calendar? Yes, you can count off the year by popping a giant bubble every day, like a great big see-through Advent calendar that wants to go all year. Wholly unsustainable in nature, but then again, so is Christmas! Go on, you’ve got ’til tomorrow and you don’t even need to wrap it…