Something for the weekend: London Design Festival

The garage pop up store for Studio Toogood in North Terrace, SW3 2BA, 

Your intrepid reporters have had a busy week this week, Jane has had her head buried in catwalks for London Fashion Week and I have been cavorting around London attending lots of the events for the London Design Festival. We've got furniture and fashion covered here, at least for this week.

LDF has gained in strength over the last few years and now there is so much to see it's taken a whole week to get through everything, and I'm sure I've left some good stuff out. The event pulls together the best of design -mostly furniture, home decorations, ceramics, craft and a few exciting (and slightly 'out there' ) installations, together with retailers and museums who present their ideas on space, how we should be living and what we should be sitting on to do it. 

Frankly I don't need any excuse to visit store like Few & Far , Mint and Skandium, all of whom are involved and there's a whole host of stuff going on in the East End, which as you know is practically our favourite place to shop in the world. It might be a good idea to visit the John Pawson exhibition Plain Space at The Design Museum to see his rigorous work on REDUCING the amount of stuff you have in a house first (he is a disciplined minimalist, quite where his wife puts her toaster and kettle we don't know), it might stop you wanting to buy so much of what's on offer elsewhere.

My favourite things to see were as follows….

Right next door to Mint and Few & Far is the charming Super Natural pop up shop from Studio Toogood. Housed in an old garage space, the presentation is all about found and foraged for influences in design, and the displays here are wonderful.

There's a specimen table of mushrooms, illuminated by lights and accessorised with magnifying glasses from Mrs Tees mushrooms (Brigitte Tee is the world's foremost expert in mushroom apparently and there are lots for sale) which leads into a room lit brightly by daylight and smelling just like a woodland glade, courtesy of the bespoke perfume created by Francis Kurkdjian.

Grab a mushroom fry up at the Bramble cafe -run by Arabeschi di Latte- or buy some cheeses from Fromagerie's cheese selection or just marvel at the wonderful furniture by Studio Toogood. On until Tuesday 28th September, which seems to include Sunday too.

The Retrouvius installation at the V&A of boxes from the Natural History Museum and college chairs, all for sale.

The V&A has some great installations, particular the Retrouvius installation of old entomology boxes acquired from the Natural History Museum (the boxes used to hold the 28 million specimens of bugs) which have been built into a reception desk and a cafe. Retrouvius was offered them after the bug department got a make over and the boxes were to be scrapped, so they were built into these temporary constructions, but each sturdy box set (of two, made from mahogany and with brass trimmings) is available to buy, for £145 +vat you can own a piece of London museum history. In the cafe, you sit on old school chairs with a built in desk space, retrieved from a Glasgow college and sprayed LDF red (for the festival) these too are for sale at £125 +vat. I really want a couple of these.

The college chairs at the V&A

And then you can go East, to the truly gorgeous One Night Only Hotel, which is designed by the delightful James Russell and Hannah Plumb of JamesPlumb. Next to the Hostem boutique, it is a wee one bed hotel room that is (well was, it's all signed up for now) available to rent throughout the LDF for free, for one night only. There's a chance to buy JamesPlumb designs in the little space too.

The One Night Only hotel by Jamesplumb

And you could visit the Tramshed, in Rivington Street, full of inspiration and busy workmen, Benchmark furniture has a great installation of workshops upstairs, with all its craftsmen busily at work demonstrating their skills, or you could pop across to the Tent London space in Brick Lane, at the Truman Brewery, where existing brands and emerging designers wrestle for attention.

Tom dixonTom Dixon's restaurant at The Dock, in Ladbroke Grove.

Half way through the week we stopped off at Tom Dixon's newly extended retail space at The Dock, where I can thoroughly recommend his terrific cafe, The Dock Kitchen. Downstairs there's demonstrations on how good design should be available for everyone. Phew, enough already, most things are on until at least Sunday, so go enjoy. Oh, before I go, my favourite bit of furniture was on show at the Mooi gallery at The Dock too, the rose printed kitchen table and chairs, see below….minimalist I ain't



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