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Some material highlights at the London Design Festival 2018

During the London Design Festival, taking place from 15 to 23 September 2018, we take a look at some of the material highlights.

Japanese metalwork
The recently opened Japan House in London hosts an exhibition called ‘Biology of Metal: Metal Craftsmanship in Tsubame-Sanjo’, about Japanese metalwork, which coincides with the London Design Festival. It shows around 300 metal objects, showcasing the centuries-old skills of metalworkers in the small city of Tsubame-Sanjo in Japan.

Tsubame-Sanjo is an area in the northern Japanese prefecture of Niigata. It is known for the precision and skill of the craftspeople from its numerous small metalworking factories and workshops manufacturing a huge variety of products. It produces the majority of all of present-day Japan’s cutlery, its businesses have developed ultra fine metal-polishing techniques.

The exhibition includes copper teapots made with the centuries-old tsuiki copper-hammering technique, made from a single sheet of copper. It also shows handmade steel razors, which were originally used by samurai to shave the tops of their heads.

The exhibition can be visited from 6 September to 28 October 2018.

Common Senses
This exhibition, hosted by Viaduct, showcases the work of 5 internationally renowned designers, with a focus on materials. Ilse Crawford of Studioilse made an investigative sturdy of materials that range from innovative uses o metal waste and nettle fibres, to Lino leather and recycling of construction materials. Farah Ebrahimi from German furniture company e15 reflects on place, identity and heritage using a traditional handcrafted Persian carpet. Fien Muller of design duo Muller van Severen presents a series of mini installations that combine materials, colours and samples that grow together in a spontaneous way in our home. Nina Maso, cofounder of Catalan lighting and furniture company Santa & Cole, showcases “lamps that embody comfort rather than impact”. Finally, Nani Marquina of rug company Nanimarquina shows some of the company’s handcrafted rugs.

Wooden pavilions
The MultiPly pavilion, created by Waugh Thistleton Architects and Arup in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council, is an interactive, modular, maze-like installation. It confronts two of our biggest current challenges, the need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change, by presenting the fusion of modular systems and sustainable construction materials. The permeable structure is made from a reusable cross-laminated timber (CLT) system made of American tulipwood. The pavilion also highlights the structural and aesthetic properties of CLT, and is carbon neutral.

Byplace, a plywood pavilion, was designed by Giles Miller and Aldworth James & Bond. The pavilion consists of CNC milled interlocking strips of birch wood, and varies in density and transparency depending on the viewing angle.

Plastic, Beyond the Chipper
The exhibition ‘Material of the Year: Plastic, Beyond the Chipper’, focuses on what they call this year’s most loathed material: plastic. Various designers were invited to repurpose this material in imaginative and valuable ways.

With her Industrial Craft, Charlotte Kidger, for example, focuses on utilising plastic waste streams associated with CNC fabrication. The lightweight polyurethane foam dust that is left as a by-product after the milling process is usually incinerated or ends up on the landfill. Kidger managed to create a durable and versatile composite material with this leftover product that can be cast in 3D forms.

Other designers in this exhibition include Kodai Iwamoto, who makes vases out of plastic pipes (read more about this process here), Weez & Merl, who recycle Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), and Dirk Vander Kooij, who also uses reclaimed synthetic materials.

Material of the Year
The London Design Fair introduces a new initiative to celebrate the materials currently making the biggest impact on the international design scene. The showcase this year explores the aesthetic and structural versatility of Jesmonite, a versatile composite material.

Various designers currently working with Jesmonite are showing their pieces, and PRIN London has been invited to create a site-specific installation, consisting of a homage to the iconic London brick made from Jesmonite and metal dust.

Find Jesmonite in our collection here.

A World of Ordinary Things
This exhibition, hosted by SCP, explores objects we interact with on a daily basis. Most noticeable in this collection, material-wise, is the 1 Inch collection by Jasper Morrison for Emeco. The latest piece is a one-piece mono-block stackable chair made from 90% industrial waste material, consisting of 75% waste polypropylene and 15% waste wood fibre. Other pieces in the furniture collection are made of hand-crafted recycled aluminium frames combined with reclaimed wood, polypropylene, plywood and upholstered seats.

Matter of Stuff
This exhibition by design research gallery Matter of Stuff aims to unveil new research in materials, finishes, texture – particularly in marble and ceramics – and includes designers like PiM Studio and Stella McCartney. A sub exhibition of Matter of Stuff is called Blown Away, which explores how hand-blown glass interacts, diffuses, projects and reflects light.

Photos credits: see photos

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