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London Design Festival 2014: New Highlights

Exhibition debuts, product launches and new collectives at this year's annual affair

by Karen Day in Design on 23 September 2014

LDF 2014, London Design Festival, Exhibitions, Fairs, Furniture, Student Work

Each year the London Design Festival joins together a city already bubbling with creativity to celebrate the best in design happening both at home and in studios abroad. While festival staples like DesignJunction, The Shoreditch Design Triangle, the V&A and many more always provide a healthy amount of visual and mental stimulation, sprinkled around are several new exhibitions, product launches and forward-thinking collectives that make each year feel fresh and unique. Below are a few highlights from those that made 2014 their year to shine.

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Austurland: Designs from Nowhere

Tucked away on a small street near the V&A museum was a multi-layered exhibition curated by Icelandic filmmaker Karna Sigurðardóttir and British design researcher and pundit Pete Collard. Dubbed "Designs from Nowhere," the small show explored the creative potential found within the East Iceland town of Austurland. Designers Max Lamb, Þórunn Árnadóttir, Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann were linked with local practitioners, who helped them learn more about the area's raw materials while in turn the designers presented new ideas on how they could be used.

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Árnadóttir worked with a net-making factory in Eskifjörður and created a colorful range of bags, hula hoops, jump ropes and other accessories; Lamb worked in Djúpivogur with local nature scientist Vilmundur Þorgrímsson to create a desktop accessory that accurately reflects the geology of the local volcanic mountain; Grundmann scavenged the forest and beach to find driftwood, reindeer antlers and pieces of local wood to create a series of toy trains with carpenter Þórhallur Árnason; Lohmann set off in search of seaweed and, through meticulous research and discovery, she found many examples of how certain types can become valuable materials for the area. You can see some of the time the designers spent in their unique environment through a a set of images documenting their process.

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Ventura London

For LDF 2014, Ventura Projects brought the fever found at their annual Milan showcase to the Big Smoke in an exciting international display on view at Designjunction. Young designers from all over the UK, Brazil, Europe, the US and even New Zealand took part, and their collective energy showed a focus toward sustainability, design ingenuity and natural materials.

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Standouts from the group included textile designer Gemma Kay Waggett, who applied her bold patterns to metal furniture and wall-hangings, and the group from Lund University, whose Lo-Fi Washer and Emergency Porcelain Hammer are a modern updated on time-honored objects.

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The Saturday Market Project

Launched in the spring of 2014, London- and NYC-based Saturday Market Project aims to provide high-quality tools and materials with budding craftspeople. In their Shoreditch space during LDF, they hosted a range of makers who helped visitors learn how to do things like forge a pair of scissors, mold leather, make a speaker, use conductive ink and build a Swedish Himmeli sculpture. The enterprising group is one to watch as they continue to document various creative fields through insightful videos, and add new craft kits and products to their online shop.

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J Hill's Standard

A dinner hosted at the studio of Martino Gamper celebrated the launch of J Hill's Standard, a new crystal company founded by Anike Tyrrell (CEO of Ireland's Waterford County Enterprise Board). Both London-based Gamper and Amsterdam-based duo Scholten & Baijings added their contemporary touches to a range of tumblers, decanters and stemware—all hand-cut and hand-polished using artisanal techniques passed down over generations of glass craftsmen. We enjoyed a dinner with the crystal, which wasn't used solely for drinking (although a sure highlight was putting our lips to the refined crystal for a dram of Teeling Whiskey—interestingly, the team behind Italian food collective Arabeschi di Latte also cleverly used the range of glasses to cut out shapes for elements of every dish. (Keep an eye on Cool Hunting for the full story when J Hill Standard's collection hit stores next month.)

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Super Stimuli

On view in the lobby of the Ace Hotel Shoreditch was Super Stimuli, a show curated by the newly launched Modern Design Review magazine. Featured works included installations by Fabien Cappello, Martino Gamper, Michael Marriott and Bethan Laura Wood.

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In addition to Marriott's architectural range furniture inspired by the Antonello da Messina's 1475 painting "Saint Jerome and His Study," other highlights included Wood's series of flower vases and not only Gamper's Recto Verso chair, but also his donuts.

Images by Karen Day

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Song of the Car: Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione

An exhilarating, high-speed lap with a professional driver invokes an equally thrilling song by Flying Lotus

by Tamara Warren in Design on 23 September 2014

Car Design, Cars, Ferarri, Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione, Song of the Car, Racecars

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When Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (architect of the Futurist movement) wrote, “We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed,” he may have imagined a place where Italian super cars produced feverish, delirious speeds, the kind of speed where all cares in the world vanish in the rear view mirror—the kind of automobile such as the Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione.

Spawned from the wicked and curvilinear Ferrari 458 Italia, the Challenge Evoluzione takes corners at 120 miles per hour and breezes down the straightaway at speeds well over 200 miles per hour. At least, that’s what we saw when we peeked at the speedometer during an exhilarating 3.4-mile lap at Watkins Glen International with professional driver Anthony Lazzaro. For Lazzaro (who took us for the ride between qualifying sessions and the finals of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli), this kind of performance is part of a day’s work: he races a Ferrari 458 in the SCCA World Challenge and has a long, winning history in NASCAR, GT racing and open-wheel racing.

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Lazzaro peels away, taking no mercy on the apexes of the corners as we observe his quick maneuvers from our snug position in the two-seater. The engine really sings as he revved the throttle. “I hope you enjoyed it,” he says as he nonchalantly pulls over. Lazzaro makes racecar driving look easy, but it’s not. Raw talent, instant reflexes and hours of practice are required to maneuver a racecar in clean lines and graceful turns.

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That’s what the Ferrari Challenge is about for the amateurs that participate. The Ferrari Challenge was founded in 1993 as a real world racing experience for customers who buy Ferraris in order to use them as they were intended: to go very, very fast. The series is divided into three regions—North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, culminating in the Finali Mondiali in Abu Dhabi scheduled in December. Aspiring drivers come together to hone their skills and exercise their competitive edge There were 25 competitors at Watkins Glen, the seventh race of the season before the final North American race in Austin next month.

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There’s a sense of being alive when it all comes together, when you find that success. When you come out of a racecar, it’s the same sensation.

Drivers invest considerable training to vie for pole position. Ross Garber (a rookie in the Ferrari Challenge) seemed slightly dazed, but happy on Saturday evening. He walked away with a top podium finish and the fastest lap time in his Coppa Shell class. He describes himself as “an accidental driver” who stumbled upon Formula One racing several years ago. He compares racecar driving to the high of launching a successful tech company—which he did in the 1990s in Austin, Texas. He co-founded the start-up Vignette, one of the dotcom boom’s most fruitful IPOs, which he says has afforded him the privilege of racing Ferraris for fun. “There’s a sense of being alive when it all comes together, when you find that success. When you come out of a racecar, it’s the same sensation,” he tells CH.

This sensation is what propels the competition—it’s also a sensation felt when listening to "Never Catch Me" produced and written by Flying Lotus and featuring the percussive flow of lyricist Kendrick Lamar. A great-nephew of Alice and John Coltrane, FlyLo's (aka Steve Ellison) musical pedigree and left-field productions dazzle and stun in a cacophony of beats. "Never Catch Me" is found on his new album You’re Dead set for release 7 October on Warp Records. We suggest tuning in and daydreaming about driving a Ferrari to victory as the lyrics fly by:

“I got mind control when I’m here / you gon’ hate me when I’m gone / Ain’t no blood pumpin’ no fear/I got hope inside of my bones…”
“Say you will never ever catch me, no, no, no.”

Song of the Car matches music with automobiles, old and new. Appearing fortnightly on Cool Hunting, each feature takes a look at a car's distinct personality and pairs it with a suitable song.

Second image by Jessica Diaz, all others courtesy of Ferarri

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Studio Swine's Sea Chair: Into The Gyre

Using solar ovens and a 3D printer, two designers turn ocean clogging plastic to furniture

by Katie Olsen in Design on 23 September 2014

Environmentalism, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Ocean Pollution, Plastics, Recycling, Upcycling

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After creating the award-winning Sea Chair (made from discarded plastic washed up on beaches), London-based design duo Studio Swine has decided to take their project to the next level. Not content with the attention they have already drawn to the disastrous reality of plastic ocean pollution, artist Alexander Groves and architect Azusa Murakami decided to take their project to the source of the Sea Chair project: the high seas.

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Sea Chair was born out of the realization that plastic waste is choking the globe's oceans—all of them. Since the 1997 discovery of the Great Pacific garbage patch (a clump of floating debris and trash trapped by the water's current, estimated to be twice the size of Texas), more gyres have been found in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. The Studio Swine team now has the opportunity to visit the North Atlantic gyre aboard the Sea Dragon, a research vessel populated by scientists and ecologists collecting information about plastic in the sea. And they want to make Sea Chairs on board. Not only will the collective effort continue to raise awareness, but they will take dumped plastic from the sea and make something useful with it. The duo has designed a solar-powered oven to "cook" the plastic and will produce the chairs using a 3D printer—all onboard the ship.

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Donations of just £5 result in an illustrated manual explaining how to make your very own Sea Chair, while all other rewards are made with sea plastic that the design duo will be collecting during the trip from trawl nets, fishing boats and beach cleans. Visit the Sea Chair Kickstarter to find out more about the admirable project.

Images courtesy of Studio Swine

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