Tuesday 11 Jan 2011


A temporary design showcase

The Temporium pop-up shop features design-led interior products from cutting-edge brands and independent designers, and is set to appear at various locations across the UK over the coming year. WAN investigated this treasure trove of contemporary design during its debut stint in London's Brompton Road.

Amongst a delightful array of stylishly cosy homeware and accessories, including rabbit lamps, cityscape cushions, whisky bottle lights and Dezeen's very own Watchstore were a few remarkably innovative pieces that tease the boundaries of contemporary design disciplines.

Undergrowth Design offered its range of eccentric Victorian-inspired tableware, and where it falls short on originality in terms of its influences (is there any part of the complete works of Lewis Carroll that has not been ravaged by recent arts graduates?) it compensates with its charming and innovative design solutions. In particular, we are referring to a set of cutlery with built-in magnifying glasses for the purpose of inspecting each morsel of food before you eat it, with knife, spoon and fork in the respective guises of a ‘killer rabbit', a ‘dandy boy' and an ‘Eden lady'. Curiouser and curiouser.

A selection of Paperself's mysterious paper eyelashes were also on display. These incredibly intricate designs consist of symmetrically patterned scenes of peacocks, deer, flowers, horses and leaves, and are ready to adorn your eyes with the help of regular eyelash glue. While the method of production remains strictly confidential, this only serves to add to their enigmatic allure.

In a darkened back room was Jason Bruges Studio's installation of four large, digitally animated eyes composed of luminous dots. Each of these Reflex Portraits is embedded with a sensor which responds to the viewer's presence with a twitch, a blink, or an inquisitively raised eyebrow. Hence, as the viewer responds to the work, the work simultaneously responds to the unsuspecting viewer. The installation is a hypnotic synthesis of high technology and human idiosyncrasies, and its focus on the hyperactive narcissism that digital technology accommodates and perpetuates recalls the studio's earlier Mirror, Mirror project, created for the V&A in 2009. Indeed this merging of installation, interior product and interactive design is indicative of the studio's overarching approach; Jason worked with Foster + Partners and Imagination before he founded the studio, which comprises a select group of architects and industrial, lighting and interaction designers.

This awe-inspiring experimentalism was markedly contrasted with the demure simplicity of Another Country's contemporary craft furniture. Constructed by hand in a small workshop in Devon, each piece achieves an elegantly understated rusticness through the combination of careful craftsmanship and high quality materials. Yet the differentiating factor between Another Country and the multitude of other brands launching ethical, locally sourced wares is that their integrity lies not only in the ethos, but in the price. Eschewing the process of wholesale production in favour of distributing to a small, select array of outlets, Another Country avoids the large profit margins which would otherwise render these products beyond the means of most consumers.

The quiet dignity of Another Country's Series One range is reflected in its design. The range, which includes stools, benches, desks and candlestick holders, is united by a beautifully pared-down yet sturdy aesthetic, influenced by British country kitchen and Shaker styles, as well as traditional Scandinavian and Japanese woodwork. But perhaps most importantly, these objects are built to last, in terms of both style and durability; an approach that harks back to an idyllic pre-industrial era in British history which coincides, not at all by accident, with the current eco zeitgeist. Indeed, just as ‘slow food' has become a household phrase, co-founder Paul de Zwart suggests to WAN that his ‘slow furniture' could, and indeed should, be the next logical outcome of our increasing environmental awareness. As de Zwart observes: "as far as we are concerned we are living in the age of Life 2.0 and whatever we do should be considered from a sustainability, recyclability, usefulness and longevity point of view. We have sent enough non-biodegradable rubbish into landfill and it is imperative that we only buy and manufacture responsibly. We try to do our little bit."

Amy Knight - Arts & Media Correspondent, World Architecture News