When 100% Design opened, I think about a decade ago, it was the leading-edge design exhibition in London. Visitors entered through colourful tunnels into an international cornucopia of design which was forward-looking and had identifiable zones covering different areas of design. Almost every stand had something new to show.
Perhaps it is an indication of how design, for example in the workplace, has matured, or that there may be too many design shows in London this week, or a reflection of scaled-back investment with the ever-increasing uncertainty of Brexit with a government that doesn’t understand the importance of design, but this year’s show does not seem to have the consistent identity it had when it started those years ago. There are occasional highspots across Olympia with new furniture designs, including the Design Guild Mark 2018 for excellence in British Design, which shows the best of contemporary British furniture including Alastair Bremner and David Binns’ use of Silicastone, made from recycled post-consumer plastics blended with vitrified ceramic, one of the new ecological materials that we see across the different design shows this week.
There are less international stands, though China remains here in force and it is always fascinating to see how Chinese designers go from strength to strength, combining traditional crafts the modern technological and digital world. Given the USA trade embargo, perhaps there is a new market here for Chinese designers? The highlights were the stands showing the work of new designers, (including Glasgow designer Kyla McCallum, known as the Queen of Origami) and the Futures section was fascinating, including Sana – a device to help relieve the stress of everyday life and help insomnia (I need that), Magway – an automated home delivery system which perhaps Amazon might take up, the pedal-powered coffee tricycle Velopresso and CupClub – trying to address the curse of wasteful one-use coffee cups in the ever-increasing number of coffee shops.
The real missed opportunity is that 100% Design does not seem to recognise the changing world of environmental responsibility and of wellness in the workplace, which is a growing and fast-accelerating future trend. Why is there not much on this – it is the future?? Perhaps they might pick this up in 2019?