So after the success of the previous pop up Pound Shop in Hoxton, Household and Sara Melin have put together a spectacular second outing in Bethnal Green for London Design Week.
The Pound Shop is a project to sell objects made by designers for £1 each in reference to the rise of the high street “pound shop”. The design brief is a challenging but fun one, with a huge array of responses. I took my camera along and snapped the ones that jumped out at me…
The objects, from left to right, top to bottom…
Phew! That’s by no means all of the products, check out the Poundshop website for more pics and products. Get down to the shop before Sunday to pick up some designer bargains! It’s near Bethnal Green tube station, on Roman Road. (My Dad tells me that’s where my granddad grew up which is neat )
Photo of shop interior: Simon Archer Hurlestone
Other photos: Susan Golton
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I love the idea of vertical gardens, and when a solution is provided that is not only modular but made from recycled bottles, it’s got to be good. http://woollypocket.com/ shows the handmade felt planters, in a variety of scales, for indoor or outdoor use. It’s a really good example of how to sell your product as well, the naked people are certainly eye catching! Makes me want to make an urban eden for myself.
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Today we had a talk from top UK designer Nick Munro which was pretty inspirational and helped me feel a bit better about things. He graduated in ’86 from IDE with a shower design which combined engineering knowledge and style, but it was a simple idea which gained him his first foot in the door of the design world. The concept of using a bed spring as an egg cup provided a cheap and eye-catching way of making a name for himself. A piece of advice he passed on to us was “99.9 percent of people don’t know you exist. Do something about that.” He then went on to design in pewter, glass, steel, furniture and an entire collection for a cruise ship.
The problem with a KISS design is that it’s easy to copy, so one piece of advice Nick passed on is to expect that and move on. Secondly, when dealing with manufacturers, there is often an argument along the lines of the manufacturer saying “Your job is to sell what we make” and the designer saying “Your job is to make what I can sell.” Negotiation is a vital design skill.
He urged us to make the most of our time at the RCA, learn about everything you can to to with the history of design and the arts and go and visit the other departments. See what they’re up to. You’ll never know when having a basic understanding of something will come in handy. Having an engineering background helps when speaking to manufacturers too, as being able to say you understand a bit of how the factory works gives you a good card to play.
Another piece of advice was to go out and look in shops. See what’s selling, what’s new, explore the brands out there, because design is all about brand.
I was curious to know how Nick arrived at the concept of a spring as an egg cup, was it by analysing trends, seeing what the design world was doing and strategically designing the egg cup? Or was it by somehow feeling that the innovation “felt right” and taking advantage of its cheap and available manufacture? Nick replied that it had felt right. He said he wouldn’t bet on someone else’s prediction – if you can make something good you’ll lead the trends. His advice was to pick something relatively simple and do it really well to get started, get really good pictures and use the power of the press.
So I’ll make sure to keep all the simple ideas scribbled on my notes.
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In my search for contemporary African design, i came across Gregor Jenkin, a South African furniture designer with an industrial edge. His most famous piece is a table made from hot rolled South African steel called Cape Table. It has cross section profiled legs echoing the shape of a typical Cape Regency turned leg. He has also formed a collection around repurposing post-war army surplus material, showing a refined design asthetic for re-use and recycling.
However the collection which interested me the most was his Infrastructure collection. Featuring lamps reminiscent of lamp-posts, benches based on brideges and porcelain vases resembling a tangle of pipes, it takes inspiration from the town of Johannesburg where he lives and grew up.
‘I like things that have a reference,’ says Gregor. ‘When I created Infrastructure and really started to examine Johannesburg, I was amazed at what it actually takes to establish a city and keep it together.’
My favourite pieces are pictured,”Acaccional shade” and “Walk around the block”
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Jo Cope caught my attention with this clever bag. The handle is inside making the bag appear as an extention of the body, hence the name the “self extention bag.” Made of fused marino wool and felt and held closed with magnets, I think this bag has a pleasingly tactile appearance.
She describes her work as conceptual garment and accessory design, and this blend of fashion and product design is an intriguing one.
Her appraoch to jewelery is equally innovative, playing with the way clothes are worn and deconstructing them to make accessories. These collars make a bright quirky statement, but could be practically and easily worn.
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