PAD London: Objects of desire

London turned into a giant art fair in October as representatives from galleries from around the world descended on the capital city to take part in the now highly established Frieze Art Fair and Pavilion of Art & Design London – both offering art for sale and attracting international buyers and collectors as well as art and design enthusiasts.

Joris Laarman Branch Bookshelf in bronze, 2010

The two affairs that run simultaneously from 13 – 17 October, though, couldn’t be more contrasting. Frieze is a racy affair that has at its core a giant pavilion constructed in the middle of Regents Park offering a vast selection of contemporary works of art by an international set of galleries. It is large, loud – almost chaotic – and feels current, attracting not just those who can afford to buy but also people from all walks of life.

Fernando & Humberto Campana, Sushi IV Chair, 2003 ©Perimeter Editions, Paris

PAD London is an altogether more serene experience. In its third year, the art and design fair has grown to include 50 of the world’s most elite galleries. Plus its location – a tent constructed amongst the sculptural trees of Berkley Square in the heart of exclusive Mayfair – limits its size and to a degree its customers.

Taking 1860 as its starting point, paintings by Pablo Picasso,  Egon Schiele, some brilliant work by German expressionist George Groz, were on exhibit alongside those by Bridget Riley, Richard Prince and more avant-garde artists including the controversial Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein with his rather haunting work that is a visual critic of war, and outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who’s 2004 China Bench (pictured bellow). Both were exhibited on New York gallery Friedman Benda‘s visually rich stand.

Ai Weiwei, China Bench, 2004 ©Freidman Benda, New York

This gathering sat alongside mid 20th century European classic of Gio Ponti and co to Dutch designer Joris Laarman and his exquisite Branch Bookshelf that managed to be both organic and highly technical (pictured above and also on exhibit by Friedman Benda), and New York designer Karim Rashid’s bright Blobulous Chair (pictured bellow). Jewelery design ranged from vintage Cartier to sculptural pieces by artist Anish Kapoor. There was even a selection of unusual tribal art on show.

Karim Rashid, Blobulous Chair Chromo, 2008-2010 ©Edizioni Galleria Colombari, Milan

There was also an exhibit by graduate designers from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. Curator Janice Blackburn and the college’s director of architecture Nigel Coats selected 20 pieces from the 2010 graduate show with 15 percent of the profits generated from the sale going towards the RCA Student Fine Art Award Fund.

Royal College of Art's 2010 graduate show at Pavilion of Art & Design London

PAD London is a chic and exclusive affair – the 50 galleries taking part are from the elite of the art and design world. It was conceived by two Frenchmen Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot who spotted a gap in the market and filled it with the kind of work – and the mix – that no one else caters for.

This may be a purely commercial affair, but much like Frieze it is a chance to see a varied selection of creative work gathered, rather conveniently, under one roof.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

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London Design Festival 2010

London came alive in September with the London Design Festival – the annual event seeing new and established designers showcase their work around the capital city. The exhibits ranged from discarded picture frames draped elegantly over the V&A steps, to a plaster cast bench inspired by the museum’s impressive Cast Court collection, and robots tracing messages in beams light over Trafalgar Square.

Stuart Haygarth’s installation, featuring discarded off cuts of colourful picture frames (from framing company John Jones) that adorn one of the grand internal marble staircases inside the V&A is an inspired piece of work that is not only visually splendid, but the rhythm created by the pattern somewhat theraputic.

Stuart Haygarth Framed ©Susan Smart

British designer Max Lamb created a plaster cast bench based on the facade of the 1840 Sydney Smirke-designed HSBC private bank headquarters at 78 St James Street in London. Inspired by the museum’s Cast Courts, Lamb used traditional casting techniques to create this seemingly plain structure which sits in complete contrast to its elaborate surroundings.

Max Lamb's bench for London Design Festival ©Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Michael Anastassiades’ Kinetic Light is a pendulum light designed for the museum’s Norfolk House Music room – the perpetual rhythm of the hanging arm holding a glass light ball is meant to evoke a distant age when music sought to create the harmony of the spheres.

Michael Anastassiades Kinetic Light ©Susan Smart Photography

Polish designer Oskar Zieta created a visually exciting installation for the V&A courtyard. Zieta took a starting point from the curves of the pool in the V&A’s John Madjeski Garden to create a moving structure with his FiDU technique – created by his company Prozessdesign – that uses compressed air to inflates steel structures. Using steel polished to a high gloss, this large-scale installation reflects the shape of the stairs leading to the garden’s pool.

Blow & Roll by Oskar Zieta ©Susan Smart

The Trafalgar Square installation came from German duo Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram – best known for their experimental work at Prada and Moroso – who created OUTRACE, a kind of pop-up factory in London’s big tourist spot. Working with eight large-scale industrial robots, loaned by Audi, each equipped with a cluster of 24 LED lights, Outrace web audience could interact with the installation live, the robots then tracing their text messages in beams of light over the square. It was quite a spectacular site contrasting against the backdrop that includes Nelson’s Column and the surrounding museums.

Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram’s Outrace at London Design Festival ©David Levene

Other notable highlights included the colourful display by Danish textile design firm Kvadrat. Designer Cristian Zuzunaga has taken some of the most famous skylines in the world and turned them into overlapping shapes and colours as part of his ‘Squaring of the Circle’ collection for Kvadrat.

Kvadrat textile collection in collaboration with Cristian Zuzunaga Install ©Tom Fallon

In this series of work Zuzunaga is exploring the ideal image of a city through large architectural shapes in muted colours. From a distance the material reveals either a block of colour, a skyline, crops of it – all depending on how the curtain is draped or folded. Complementing the larger swathes of flat weave material is a series of cushion, each unique, with close-up geometric pixels of colour depicting very small sections of the buildings featured in the curtains.

As part of LDF, carmaker Mini unveiled the Scooter E Concept. The electric zero-emission two wheeler has been conceptualised in two forms – with two seats and in sporty single seat format. Showcasing BMW’s overall eco-ambitions, reported earlier on DT (New Urban Mobility), the vehicle is powered by an electric motor integrated in the rear wheel.  The motor’s lithium-ion battery can be recharged at any conventional power socket using an on-board charging cable. We will report more on this as part of the Paris Motor Show in October.

Mini Scooter E Concept

This year’s LDF medal was awarded to Thomas Heatherwick for his contribution to design. Ben Evans, festival director, said of the designer of this year’s British Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo: ‘He defies definition whether he is working in in the fields of architecture, product design, sculpture, and urban planning.

‘He has developed a considerable reputation for his practice, creating a range of extraordinary objects and buildings; from rolling bridges to seaside cafes to spinning chairs.’

For our report on the student corner visit Emerging Designers from the London Design Festival.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks & Andrea Klettner
The London Design Festival ran from 18 to 26 September at venues around London.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

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Social art: The Dream Factory

Should creativity be socially responsible? The Dream Factory thinks so. The collection of pioneering artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers, thinkers and social entrepreneurs believe that you can impact on the world by enhancing communities and raising social consciousness through creativity.

Art Against knives

Sponsored by Japanese carmaker Honda, the collective was born in May with an initial exhibition held at The Dray Walk Gallery on London’s Brick Lane. The exhibition will progress into an annual event alongside a series of eclectic shows and workshops running throughout the country. For more on future events visit the Dream Factory.

DT met with some of the so called ‘cultural engineers’…

Art Against Knives

‘Our aim is to set-up Our Space, a place designed, built and sustained by disadvantaged youth in East London,’ explains Art Against Knives co-founder Katy Dawe. ‘The area is developing at a fast rate and we feel there is little contact with the local community. We want to bridge this gap.’

The initiative was started in 2009 following a horrific knife attack on co-founder Oliver Hemsley a year earlier that left the 22 year old confined to a wheelchair. Dawe then organised a fundraising event for friends and fellow Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design students which grabbed the attention of local art and fashion heavyweights who donated artwork to the exhibition and auction.

Art Against knives

What started as raising awareness on knife crime has since evolved. The non-profit organisation is currently working on a number of initiatives within the art world – including collaborating with Open Shorditch, a coalition of local businesses and residents. ‘We will do mentorships so that anyone interested in the arts can gain an insight into the industry and perhaps it can lead to job opportunities,’ Dawe enthuses. The team will shortly be running workshops and are aiming to open their first Our Space in April. ‘The project is like a net – the corners eventually coming together to form a square.’

Benedict Radcliffe

Benedict Radcliffe creates intricate life-size wire frame models of supercars and graffiti-bikes. An architecture graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, he learnt his skills more or less whilst working at an architect firm in Scotland. ‘I learnt to fabricate techniques such as railings and spiral staircases so much so that cutting-edge projects were sent my way,’ he says.

Benedict Radcliffe's Lamborghini sculpture

Radcliffe works with any subject that interests him including an ‘Air Sculpture Garden’ for Nike – a vertical garden complete with a giant, 3D wire shoe. The artist admits he doesn’t intentionally set out with a social message, but such projects as his pedal-powered Lamborghini makes a clear ironic statement. ‘It was also about having fun,’ he says.


ColaLife founder Simon Berry has come up with a simple solution to help tackle child mortality in some of the more remote regions of Africa. The ColaLife concept is simple. ‘You can find Coca-Cola anywhere in Africa,’ he explains. By utilising Coke’s distribution networks, sachets of re-hydration salts and other urgent medical products can be transported in ‘Aid Pods’ designed to fit into the unused wedge space between the necks of Coke bottles and the crates.

ColaLife in Colombo © Simon Berry

The initial idea came to Berry when he was a development worker in Zambia in 1988. Then, one in five children died before the age of five, often from mere diarrhoea preventable with a simple dose of re-hydration salts – the mortality figure remain the same today.

Berry is now in talks with Coca-Cola to trial the scheme. ‘We want to distribute this to very remote areas starting in Africa – the aim being for it to be eventually taken on by local organisations.’

Heritage Orchestra

Heritage Orchestra collaborate with traditional and experimental artists from the world of art and music to encourage work that they hope engages the public by being relevant and reflecting the zeitgeist. Their mission is to reinvent the orchestra to express modern Britain.

‘Our ultimate aim is to be a different type of orchestra,’ explains artistic director Chris Wheeler. ‘We have a traditional set-up, and the instruments are the same, but our mind is set in the future. We want to be a modern orchestra and be open to new ideas and technology.’

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

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