A personal account of my impressions of the exhibition.
After Lunch I headed over to Tent London which a trade show held in Truman Brewery in Brick Lane Shorditch London. Met up with Nell Beal of CoucouManou and her talented daughter.
Brick lane is now the uber fashionable part of London full of bright young things Galleries cafe's & bars. (Although I still remember it from when I was young when it was full of Rag trade and sweat shops. Some of which were rough with the people who did the sewing sleeping under the machines and getting paid peanuts. There was an amazing Market on Sunday. I went to buy second hand clothes. Some of the buildings had no roof but huge piles of slightly wiffy clothes to rummage through. We used to go clubbing in the west end and end up in the Market eating bagels...I digress) Now it has its own kind of bussle and lots of people walking up and down Brick Lane and trendy artisan shops and Craft/food markets . And so it was on Sat.
After lunch and a wander around the craft market we wandered over to The Truman's Brewery. It is an old Victorian brick warehouse with lowish ceilings and lots of industrial beams and pipe work with the kind of solid wood floors heavy load baring floors that industrial buildings have. Being next to Brick lane means that is has a busy feeling and it was busy.
The show is on two floors The ground floor with larger companies in a section called 'Super Brands' But I can honestly say I had never herd of any of them. But they did seem to be larger companies who had paid the premium for larger unmissable stands. They were selling furniture on the whole. Which all seemed to by very slick and well designed and made but it has not stuck in my mind except for what seemed to be a booth which had navy carpeted walls which was just big enough for a chair and a table for a laptop and a fancy lamp which had a dimmer switch that you only had to stoke to alter the level of the lighting. It was very woom like. http://www.oof.uk.com/product-features.html
Up stairs you walked into a display from the design and Crafts Council of Ireland which was partitioned with raw wood planks. I quite liked these jugs , I liked their pattern and personality but felt they would be a nightmare to wash up!
There were also Trade missions from Italy, Norway, Korean Traditional Crafts and Australia. I found some other ceramics I want to own in the Australian mission pale pin matt with a texture on the outside and high gloss inside by Valissa Butterworth. We spoke to a man who had a coat stand who told us he was an Architect and mad this product on the side. What was notable about him was that he spoke about wood in terms of species. Which I though was a great marketing way of making his coat stand seem more environmentally friendly by just using that word.
In The Norwegian Icons section there were some exquisitely made wooden buckets made by Einar Barnes in 1968 norwegianicons.com/designers/einar-barnes/ I also liked some wooden table lights by Andreas Bersaker http://www.andreasbergsaker.com/Piedistallo
Myung Nam An was one of the stars of the show in my view I loved her ceramic ( I know ceramics again I am always drawn to ceramics for some reason) wall of 'eyes' But I would want to buy the whole wall, one would just not work! They had real personality and were lively. Her beetles were impressive but a bit clumsy for me. http://myungnaman.co.uk/index.html
After walking through a rather unsuccessful large room designed by Dulux paint there was the Italian room. There was some pieces of glass and a blood red chandelier which I did not like.
https://instagram.com/p/8GMgfusqPJ/?taken-by=coucoumanou Is a large fabric bell big enough to cover half a dozen people. You could achieve this by pulling a rope. I could not quite see what use this was. Except if you needed a quite place for some 'rumpty pumpty' even that would be a bit obvious!
The top room had a large number of smaller business stands from companies like the Futon Companies to business start ups. A lively and eclectic mix of design based businesses. They were selling everything from wallpaper textiles to furniture to folded paper. Here is the exhibitor list http://www.tentlondon.co.uk/exhibitor-list. The room was like an oven. (it was a sunny day) I am not sure how they could stand in that heat for the whole show.
Zoe Murphy - upcycled CoucouManou John Weaver
The over all the aspirations of many of the companies were to create future design classics. The key things that were important to thedesigners were aesthetic, and ethical considerations. A number of people were using recycled wood for instance. a large number of stand holders would talk at length about the environmental friendliness of their products.. The standard of making was high. They were aiming there products at the moneyed classes not trying to solve issues for the poor .. as they are trying to earn their living it is fair enough.
The exhibition was busy people told me they had done well. I was told that the stands are around £1800. for the show. which is fairly expensive. There were one or two who looked a bit ashed and depressed. There are no guarentees. You need to have a good display. I think if your work fits in with the work at the show it would be worth a go. You need to be prepared.
So what id the difference between the two shows? One is scale. at Tent there is more space between the stands so furniture is better seen and so there is a wider selection of larger items. The scale of the items in the Victoria House building is smaller at Design junction. It also has the advantage of being a selling exhibition as well as wholesale. Tent is purely wholesale so it does have a more professional feel. Although they are both high standard shows, Although there is an opportunity to display really large pieces at design Junction The Art School building does get in the way of them really looking good and brings them down as it is scruffy. design junction is a bit more confusing to navigate as it rambles around 3 floors in the College there is a fair bit of walkin between rooms . The basement of Victoria house is easier to navigate. They have crammed more in to the space in Victoria house with a range of stands from a table top up wards. Like me I imagine most buyers would go to both shows.
Then I took the train back to Bristol completely pooped!