With an appreciation for design but no formal background, I headed off to ‘designjunction’ last Sunday with very little idea of what to expect. It was the final day of this four-day London design festival; a festival which, since its inception three years ago, has already spread its perfectly-curated wings to Milan and New York. Located just off Oxford Street, and featuring an abundance of designs (furniture, lighting, ornaments, you name it) split across four cavernous floors, Design Junction’ is a big-deal gathering in the industry. These days, having a big-deal gathering of creative folk increasingly often means having some killer coffee on hand, and Design Junction certainly fit the bill.
Design Junction was full of outrageously cool and innovative designs from all corners of the globe, with so many highlights it’s hard to know where to start. So, let’s start where I started, with the coffee itself. I quickly found that there were two coffee stands of note. The first, the King’s Cross-based coffee cart Noble Espresso, has become the darling of cool London events, having just worked Fashion Week the week prior (where they caffeinated the likes of Cara Delevingne and Alexa Chung). With first-rate baristas–including regular ‘Sprudge’ contributor Nico Halliday–-deploying a Colombia La Esperanza from Notes and Square Mile’s Red Brick espresso blend.
The second stand was run by La Marzocco UK and perched one floor up. The stall was manned by a different London roastery each day; on the day I went that meant Ozone, with other services throughout the week by roasters Terrone, Allpress, and Holborn Grind. La Marzocco’s station was design-forward, appropriately enough given the setting, and featured the added element of a local illustrator, who would–-as the day went on–-free-draw a mural relating to the incumbent roaster. By the final day, the individual murals blended into one big beautiful wall of coffee-inspired graffiti: a quite fitting coffee stand for a design show.
Okay. Flat white in hand, it was time to check out the design stars of the show. First, there were, quite literally, the stars of the show: a million or so luminescent lights set against a dark ceiling, which punctuated the walkway between the basement and ground floors. Competing with the light show for the title of most spectacular display was a room of the third floor which, in a scene far more captivating than words can describe, was filled with white balloons and colourful wooden chairs.
Beautiful, simple lines seemed to be the order of the day, from furniture designers such as Sweden’s ‘String’, to pretty ornamental displays (here’s to you, ‘aimee ballu’), and self-evidently cool bike brands Tokyo Bike and Woodstick. There was metal, wood, ceramic and textiles. Even stools made of salt. It was a visual treat.
Design Junction also featured several conceptual installations. ‘Dezeen’ and ‘Mini’s’ collaboration hypothesized about the future intersection of design and travel: think technicolour car-beds and a machine simulating the physical rigours of space travel on the human body. There was also a t-shirt based on a camouflage pattern used to disguise ships in World War I; an urn which decomposes in soil after a few months; and a chair, made from material stuffed with rice, which can be molded any which way and will then hold its shape.
The top floor was home to my favourite display, courtesy of British label Innermost, which cheekily combined design with humour. From an ornate portrait of a French queen whose face was covered with a bright pink splat of paint, to a loo surrounded by suspended top-hats, to the most mind-bending design of the show (for me, anyway), a canvas painting of a chair which actually turned out to be a chair (a horizontal wooden panel at the back formed the seat), this display demonstrated that design can be imbued with a heap of character.
Events like this one are about juxtaposition, with cutting edge designers with different intentions and styles all placed next to one another to create a challenging and fascinating overall experience. The progressive coffee service from Noble and La Marzocco, featuring some of London’s top roasters, capably lived up to the tableau. In the future there will be great coffee will be at every event like this; at Design Junction the future is already here.