Since launching in 2011, designjunction has built up a reputation for occupying some of the most ambitious spaces in London from a 40,000 sq ft disused sorting office to a derelict design school. Its flagship show takes place during London Design Festival and features more than 200 brands. This year, designjunction is taking over King’s Cross for their biggest event yet. The managing director, Deborah Spencer, sat down with Appear Here to talk about London’s growing design scene and the new brands we need to know about.
Hi Deborah. Tell us about why designjunction came about?
When we launched designjunction, we felt London was missing a commercial show with more creative energy and a greater relevance to the A&D community. A place where you could do business but in a more relaxed environment.
Our mission was simple, we wanted to break the mould of the traditional trade show by taking over challenging industrial spaces. We wanted to present the best cutting-edge design within a carefully curated space, striking the perfect balance between creative and commercial.
How about this year’s show, what are the highlights going to be?
This year, the show is going to be bigger and better than ever at our new location in King’s Cross. The move to King’s Cross is an important step in our nomadic evolution, as we continue to raise the bar again at a brand new destination.
Rather than taking over an existing venue we will be occupying the entire site with public realm outdoor spaces presenting more than 200 leading contemporary design brands. King’s Cross is a really exciting destination in the midst of an incredible transformation, attracting renewed commercial interest, new development, new occupiers and regeneration.
One of the most impressive sites is Cubitt House, on Lewis Cubitt Square where we plan to build a two-storey pavilion to house 70 commercial design brands. Architectural practice Satellite Architects have designed a scaffold-like super façade to build around the structure. The impressive façade will be 70m by 7m made up of 4,000 individual GRID cubes with reflective mirrored surfaces.
Granary Square will also be populated with 8 giant red monopoly houses filled with immersive design concepts from a water-inspired installation to a retail concept store.
Design and craft brands have never been more popular, how can we ensure it's not just a passing trend and becomes something more long term?
The design industry and community needs to continue to promote these brands and keep up the momentum that has been built. The public still have a good appetite for beautifully designed and crafted pieces which have longevity, we just need to keep providing interesting platforms from which they can shout about their products.
What do you think is driving this greater appreciation of handcrafted products?
When the economy went into an economic downturn, a plethora of cheap, mass produced brands and products came onto the marketplace and I think it quickly became apparent that this type of consumerism was not cost effective. The consumer is now more discerning and enjoys the story behind the product, the making and thought processes and having something treasured that becomes an heirloom.
What's exciting you most about living and working in London at the moment?
London is a melting pot of global talent – home to some of the best and critically acclaimed designers and architects; from Paul Smith and Tom Dixon, to Thomas Heatherwick and the late Zaha Hadid. The new Design Museum in Kensington will be much celebrated and an attraction for visitors worldwide.
How do you think Brexit will affect London's design scene?
The UK always has and always will be a creative force on the international arena. Designers and the design industry will continue to look to Britain for its inspiration and I believe whilst this status stands, this will keep us in good stead for the future.
Which new brands should we be looking out for?
Some of the younger brands exhibiting at designjunction are ones to watch…
Tala, a young British lighting brand is definitely one to watch. They create elegant filament light bulbs using the latest LED technology. At the show, they will be building an eight-meter high installation will allow visitors to fully interact with the bulbs with areas to touch, feel and explore beneath a glistening forest canopy.
Independent designer, Christopher Jenner will present a two-year collaboration with Sheffield-based heritage silverware brand Elkington & Co.
North Limited is a new design collection formed by three Icelandic designers. Their style mixes contemporary and classic design with Icelandic influences. Production uses quality material and the best craftsmanship possible.
What advice would you give to young design brands just starting out?
Define your brand and your objectives and stick to them – this should include creating a consistent tone of voice to communicate the brand’s message through your website, media portals and social media.
Make sure that once you have gained momentum, you maintain it. Ways in which to do this could include ensuring you have a steady stream of activity, interesting collaborations with events or designers that have synergy with your brand or participation in relevant talks or forums. Most of all, make yourself relevant in a busy marketplace!