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Round Up of
London Design Festival 2020
London Design Festival 2020

In any normal September, the AUTHOR team would usually be hitting the streets of London, exploring and enjoying all that the Design Festival has to offer. However, this year is unlike any other and we are experiencing the festival from our computer screen and phones at home up here in Scotland. From virtual exhibitions to new furniture collections, here is a round up of our top three highlights from the festival this year.

1. The Hothouse by Studio Weave

Image by Ed Reeve for Dezeen

The Hothouse is the festival’s Landmark Project for 2020. Located at International Quarter London, the Hothouse is a large-scale installation greenhouse that is reminiscent of a Victorian or Edwardian glasshouse and provides a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow outside in the UK.

This project is fitting as in the 1930s, the IQL area was home to a 20-mile section covered in greenhouses along the Lee Valley where ornamental plants, flowers and exotic produce were grown.

The Hothouse at night by Ed Reeve for Dezeen
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The Hothouse aims to demonstrate the effects of climate change as the tropical plants and crops that are grown within it could possibly be able to grow outside in the UK by 2050 if the current rate of climate change continues to accelerate, according to scientists.

London-based architectural practice, Studio Weave, have created the Hothouse in partnership with garden designer, Tom Massey, who developed a planting scheme that includes edible exotic and unusual species supplied by plant nursery, Hortus Loci. It will display the change in the plants across all seasons to highlight the reality of climate change whilst also showcasing the beauty of nature and our relationship with it. It demonstrates our adaptability to overcome problems and be able to grow plants from all over the world safely and sustainably. The installation is supported by Lendlease and London Continental Railways as well as further engineering, fabricating and material support from Arup, Cake Industries and Amorim.

Where to see it: Redman Place, International Quarter London, E20 1JQ. From 12th September 2020 to 31st December 2021.

2. Connected by design

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Connected is an experimental special project created for the festival in collaboration with the Design Museum, Benchmark Furniture and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) in response to the Covid-19 crisis. 9 designers from around the globe were challenged with the same brief of designing a table and seating that suits their home living and working situation using only three underused hardwoods: Maple, Red Oak and Cherry.

The AHEC wanted to highlight the message of sustainability as these three hardwoods combined account for more than 40% of all standing hardwoods in American forests. These hardwoods are not a planted resource and are provided the way nature intended. Our over-reliance on a narrow selection of fashionable timbers creates a supply stress on the forest. In order to design sustainably there is a responsibility to use all of what nature provides and not just the minute, fashionable few.

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The designers: Ini Archibong (Switzerland), Maria Bruun (Denmark), Jaime Hayon (Spain), Heatherwick Studio (UK), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska (Poland), Sabine Marcelis (Netherlands), Studiopepe (Italy) and Studio Swine (UK/Japan), were each paired with a craftsman from Benchmark’s workshop in Berkshire, relying solely on digital and video communication to realise their designs.

Candy Cubicle by Sabine Marcelis
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Our favourite of the nine designs is Candy Cubicle by New Zealand born designer, Sabine Marcelis, working from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. What is not to love about this sunshine coloured beauty? Using the Maple for its beautiful grain, Sabine wanted to create a table and seating that would be functional as a work space but could also be hidden so you are not constantly confronted by work. The cube horizontally closes so you simply see a pared back, clean lined rectangular box that displays the exquisite pattern of the Maple grain and hides the work space inside.

Connected by design focuses on making together but apart, a situation that the pandemic has put the world in and yet showing how designers and makers are able to adapt, still create and be connected even if it’s through a computer screen. It is such a luxury to see the pieces being built with the videos on the project’s website, adding such value to the finished designs. An amazing opportunity for the designers and incredible craftsmanship by Benchmark Furniture.

Where to see it: You can view the exhibition virtually here:

or you can visit the exhibition in person until the 11th October 2020 at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG.

3. Tom Faulkner at Focus/20

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One of our favourite furniture designers, Tom Faulkner, has launched his new ‘Atlantic’ Collection at Focus/20, the annual autumn design event at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. The collection includes the Atlantic Table with its beautifully-shaped table legs. The table top is crafted from an innovative material with the surface made of paper/card impregnated with acrylic resins, giving it a wonderful matt sheen and a gorgeous “soft touch” finish. Completed with a walnut lipping, this table is a perfect addition to any kitchen or dining room and a gorgeous example of amazing British design.

Image from, Jak Chair with Atlantic Table

Tom’s latest collection also includes the Jak Chair, a pared back, simple design that is elegant and striking. Made from aluminium, this comfortable chair is light, versatile and colourful, upholstered in a luxurious dark blue leather and finished with a dark ocean blue frame to match the Atlantic table.

“This chair has been in my head and on the drawing board for a while,” states Tom, “and it finally started to materialise in three dimensions at the end of last year. I wanted to make something very practical, not too formal, but at the same time very smart. I had the twentieth century modernists in the back of my mind – I was thinking of Jean Prouvé’s Standard chair, and the Gio Ponti’s Superleggere chair, both smart and utilitarian.  I wanted to make a chair for the twenty first century.”

Where to see it: Design Avenue, Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, Lots Rd, Fulham, London SW10 0XE until 25th September. After this date you can see it at Tom’s London showroom, Chelsea Reach, 79-89 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0RN.

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Written by Jane Adams, founder of Author Interiors. LinkedIn:

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