Polska! Year

Polska! Year 2009-2010

Polska! Year 2009-2010

Polska! Year started in Spring of this year and will continue through to 2010. It is a joint initiative of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the Year is to bring the communities of Poland and Great Britain closer by strengthening cultural relations and establishing new contacts between Polish and British artistic institutions, artists and organisers of cultural events.

Polska! Year comprises over 200 projects presenting the most interesting achievements of Polish culture and showcasing works of the most outstanding Polish artists to the British public. It features exhibitions of past and modern art, concerts of classical, jazz and contemporary music, reviews of feature films, documentaries and animation, theatrical performances, as well as conferences and seminars.

At London Design Festival this year there was a hive of activity showcasing Polish culture. Young Creative Poland from 19-27 September was a group show of the best young designers emerging from Poland and working in furniture design, industrial design, graphic design, fashion, architecture and innovative engineering.

Young Creative Poland

Young Creative Poland

Polska Folk took place at Tent London from 24-27  September and was an exhibition of new work from young Polish designers who have reached back to traditional folk designs, materials and manufacturing processes in making their work.

Polska Folk

Polska Folk

Unfortunately, this year I was unable to take time off from work in order to make the trip to London Design Festival. Both Polska Folk and Young Creative Poland would definitely have been at the top of my list of things to go and see. But fear not, the net is awash with round ups of the designs that were exhibited. I won’t be posting everything here on my blog, but Dezeen has a special feature on Polish design at the moment  so if you are interested I suggest you click here.

A bit of light reading?

Swan XL by Martela

Swan XL by Martela

This is exactly what I need in my house and is possibly one of the most stylish floor lamps I have ever seen. Designed by Eero Aarnio, Swan XL is an oversized version of the Swan table lamp also produced by Finnish company Martela.

Aarnio reported designed XL by producing life-size drawings of the lamp and placing them next to his favourite arm chair to see what it would look like.

Available in black or white, this lamp would make one trendy reading lamp and it would go really well with your dalmatian!

Landscape bathroom for Roca

The Roca Landscape by Yar Rassadin

The Roca Landscape by Yar Rassadin

Russian designer Yaroslav Rassadin has designed this intriguing bathroom concept for Jump the Gap, an international design competition held by sanitaryware manufacturers Roca.

Landscape is made from thick silicone or rubber and can be moulded into different shapes depending on how it is to be used. The use of an air-pump can completely change the nature of this bathroom allowing both space and water to be saved.

From a shower tray to a deep bath and a shallow seated bath to a Japanese style Ofuro bath, this is one versatile bathroom suite. Rassadin was voted a finalist in the competition, but was pipped to the top post by an entry from China.

You can view the other finalists and the winning entry here.

The Landscape collection

The Landscape collection

You can read my interview with Yar Rassadin here

Westwood does Wallpaper

Trompe l'oeil by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son

Trompe l'oeil by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son

Vivienne Westwood is undoubtedly one of Britain’s biggest design icons famed for her anarchic fashion designs which revolutionised British fashion and became her trademark style. Now the Grande Dame of British fashion, credited with creating the look of the punk rock movement, has put her signature to a new line of wallpaper.

The Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son wallpapers are all based on signature designs from her fashion collections such as the iconic Squiggle print from the Autumn-Winter 81/82 Pirate collection and the more recent Cut-Out Lace from the Spring-Summer 07 I am Expensiv collection.

The wallpaper designs are all quinessentially Westwood from Vivienne’s Lace, which was handrawn by Westwood herself and contains her signature, to the rebellious Union Jack flag and the Trompe l’oeil paper which features the inimitable drapery techniques used by Westwood in her couture.

“It is good when my ideas get carried over into other artistic media. This collection is a perfect opportunity to be able to work with a heritage company like Cole & Son and to see my ideas from fashion translated into the world of interiors and wallpaper,” said Westwood.

Union Jack by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son

Union Jack by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son

For more inspiration on wallpaper, read my article on wallcovering trends here

Future Talents

The winning design by John Walsh

The winning design by John Walsh

This year saw the launch of a brand new competition in bathroom design. ‘Future Talents’ is run by brassware manufacturer Triflow Concepts and was held as part of this year’s London Design Festival in September.

The competition aimed to encourage students and designers to submit designs for a pioneering new kitchen or bathroom tap or accessory. Triflow received over 80 entries for the competition which was judges by a panel comprised of renowned architect Zaha Hadid, editor-in-chief of Wallpaper* magazine Tony Chambers,  interior designer David Collins and Times columnist Caroline Roux.

The judges chose a shortlist of their favourite five designs, which were then put to a public vote4 on the Triflow stand at 100% Design last month. According to Triflow all entries received great interest, but one design in particular racked up 35 percent of the public vote making it the most popular entry.

‘Trees’ by John Walsh will now be produced by Triflow Concepts and Walsh will receive royalties from sales of the tap as well as walking away with £1500 in prize money.

The four runners up

The four runners up

WCKid Bathroom for children

WCKid by Sanindusa

WCKids by Sanindusa

Portuguese sanitaryware manufacturer Sanindusa has launched a new bathroom collection aimed specifically at children. The new range, named WCKids, was unveiled at Cersaie in Bologna, Italy in late September/ early October.

Designed by Emanuel Rufo, the range is aimed at children aged between two and six years old and is available in an eye-catching blue and yellow colour scheme.

This would be a really fun addition to the toilets of any primary school.


Cut-a-pult flexible furniture

Cut-a-pult flexible furniture

Cut-a-pult is an exciting new range of furniture by German designer Lars Contzen, one of my absolute favourite designers, in collaboration with Atelier Schneeweiss.

According to Contzen, the idea for the light-weight, multi-functional furniture comes from society’s need for mobile, uncomplicated and flexible products. The use of light-weight material with a customisable surface in conjunction with a collapsible and interlocking system allows the user to quickly build and dismantle a minimalist seating solution such as a table or lecturn.

Cut-a-pult comes in a trendy shoulder bag which makes it ultra-portable and a range of graphic surface finishes allows the user to personalise their furniture.

I think I need to contact Lars immediately to find out where I can purchase this furniture as it would make a perfect little collapsible desk and stool for blogging. Not only could I take my new mini Vivienne Tam laptop with me but also my entire desk in a nifty little bag. Blogging on the go couldn’t be easier!

P.S. Last year I had the opportunity to catch up with Lars Contzen and you can read the full interview here.

Design for Life

Despite some really bad press that the show has received I’m really enjoying the new reality TV series, Design for Life,  that started on the 14th September and is shown on BBC2. I’m afraid I can’t tell you what day or time it is on as I always miss it, but you can watch it on iplayer if you live in the UK.

The series is basically based on Philippe Starck’s hunt for the next big British Designer. The aim of the series, according to Starck, is no less than to create an ‘English style’ as he believes that the Brits haven’t had a new national design aesthetic since Terence Conran opened his first branch of Habitat in the early 1960s.

Slightly ironic I would say that a French man is trying to create an English style and exactly how English it can be if it has been created by a French man I do not know.

The series started out with 12 eager designers, all chosen by Starck himself, to compete against each other for a six-month placement working as part of his ‘tribe’ in his Paris Studio. In the program, which is basically Philippe Starck’s version of The Apprentice, Starck sets the designers creative tasks and each week he eliminates the weakest.

I must say I was very pleased to see Polly Firth in the programme as I had picked her out as a designer to watch from New Designers 2008. I was also happy to see Nebil sent home so early on. I found him somewhat over confident, but luckily Starck had him sussed, much to his surprise.

I shall be catching up on the programmes I have missed tonight on iplayer and at this point in time I would have to say that my money is on Ilsa Parry to win the series.

Love at first sight

The Love bathtub by Novello

The Love bathtub by Novello

I first spotted this bathtub back in July of this year when it was still a prototype and I loved it even then. Part of the aptly named Love project, designed by Arter & Citton for Italian Manufacturer Novello, this bathtub was first shown at ISH in Frankfurt earlier this year.

The sleek smooth lines of the bathtub run straight into the basin providing a neat shelving area for cosmetics and toiletries.   The continuity of the tub and the basin create a single entity with a very romantic feel to it, hence the name.

The basin can be situated on the left or the right and a matching shower tray is available in Corian.

Design fit for a Prince

Design has come more under the spotlight recently and, perhaps in part due to the recession, people are starting to reassess the role and value of design. The Design Council‘s Value of Design fact finder is proof that people’s attitudes towards the importance of design are changing.

Moreover, the European Commission recently launched a public consultation on its working document ‘Design as a driver of user-centred innovation’  which provides an analysis of the rationale for making design an integral part of European innovation policy rather than something which is left to individual Member States or a regional level.

However, there are some people who have been interested in and have actively been promoting the value of design for over 50-years now, namely Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He has been one of Britain’s most outspoken design critics and champions. He launched his Designers Prize, which is the UK’s longest running design award, 50 years ago to put the spotlight on the designers who are improving and influencing our daily life and business success.

Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs had the pleasure of interviewing Prince Philip and had the opportunity to discuss the Prince’s passion for design and how the role of design has progressed over the past five decades.

You can read Kevin McCloud’s article for the Times here or you can watch the video of the interview below.

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