London Design Festival 15: Emerging Trends…

Having reached the halfway point of the design festival, your writer is cuddling a cup of tea in a quiet room to overcome symptoms of overstimulation and to bring you a trends report. The scenes below come from iconic art galleries, disused car parks, empty office blocks, former universities and some of the hottest shops all around London. Some key themes we’ve noticed along the trail lead naturally from Milan’s annual Salone back in April (catch up on it here) – there have been more reds/oranges for instance, which we’ll no doubt return to again soon. A few of the trends highlighted today have been bubbling away for some years now, but have reached a huge peak – specifically hand-made, high craft and the geo-tastic new Memphis style.

We’re going to begin, however, in a calm, soothing happy place as is befitting of this correspondent’s needs…

Textural New Minimalism

AC Dorset10 | inspiration for light

Photography by Rich Stapleton

This photograph of the Jurassic Coast of Dorset – Farrow & Ball’s home county – inspired the design of a pared back, limited edition lamp made out of Portland inlay stone by Studio Dessuant Bone. Both creations were specially commissioned by fellow-Dorset brand Another Country in celebration of its 5th birthday and in recognition of how the area has fed the design team’s creativity.

The photograph sums up our first trend: Quiet, spare, breathtaking and painstaking execution. We saw leather chairs  in the palest, softest leathers, blonde wood tables and benches with seamless or invisible details, Jesmonite hand painted to resemble the sea or a storm (Nim table by Pinch). The colours were taken from nature and included whispering browns, blues, greys, greens and off-whites. A quote from 1960s designer Ward Bennett sets the mood for this look nicely – his furniture has just been brought out of the archives by Herman Miller:

“In life and design, try to pull it all down to the bare minimum.”

 Quiet colour The Chromologist
New Minimalism The Chromologist

Clockwise from top left: Pinch, Studio Dessuant Bone/Another Country, Reiko Kaneko, Barber Osgerby, Wright & Doyle, Karimoku New Standard, Ward Bennett / Herman Milller, Tomoko Azumi for Ercol.

The International Crafts Revolution

The trend for handmade design has exploded. Every second stand or shop visited this week has involved a conversation about artisinal makers back in Tokyo, Mumbai, Italy, Scotland, Up the road, right in front of you….

Crafters LDF2015 The Chromologist

Wood carver Sophie from Grain & Knot and artist and weaver Rachel Scott making their pieces in O’Dell’s.

It was nice to see (and hear about) all that low-tech industry going on alongside some manic high-tech Instagramming and the crafters were all ages and persuasions – no beard cliche’s to see here. In shorthand, if it’s made from natural material and is hand-woven, hand-dyed, hand-imprinted, hand-carved, effectively man-handled in an aesthetically pleasing way by a skilled artistic person, then it’s big news. Mass market uniformity is the enemy in this vision.

Craft LDF2015 The ChromologistHandmade The Chromologist

Ptolemy Mann / H Furniture, Collection Eclectik, Monologue London, Daniel Heath, Elementary Store, Luna & Curious.

Memphis Matured

Another trend that keeps on evolving. The roots are the ’80s Memphis movement but contemporary printmakers and furniture designers alike have taken the aesthetics and colours and run with them. Think back to your geometry lessons for the shapes and to be purist about it go for primary colours such as bold reds and yellows juxtaposed with black, or a monochrome theme where the graphic patterns make all the impact required. We love to mix it up a bit by pairing pastel shades with this trend to give it a modern (but yes also very ’80s) twist. Take a leaf out of Rossana Orlandi’s book and dress the part too if you dare (FYI she wasn’t the only one at the fair to do so, but she did do it best).

paperless post

Paperless Post by Patternity


New Memphis LDF2015 The Chromologist New Memphis trend LDF2015 The Chromologist

Design K, KK Outlet, Lee Broom, VG&P, Kangan Arora, Mast Brothers, One We Made Earlier, Verena Hennig

Stand out colour exhibit

We’ll leave you with one last image, not trend-related. These are the teeniest tiniest ceramics we’ve seen, made by a young Japanese student designer Yuta Segawa. Tucked away on the top floor of Design Junction and organised into colour groups they were a stand out exhibit that you have to check out if you’re going.Yuta Segawa | The Chromologist

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist