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Check­ing out the Lon­don De­sign Fair

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS - Camille Walala: the print sen­sa­tion

Bri­tain ex­cels at pro­duc­ing ex­cit­ing print de­sign­ers, but few cre­ate such an im­pact as Camille Walala. Since she burst on to the scene in 2012 with her Trib­al­ala home­ware col­lec­tion for de­sign store Dark­room, Walala’s tech­ni­colour geo­met­ric pat­terns have adorned ev­ery­thing from build­ing ex­te­ri­ors to rugs for Heal’s and Easter eggs for Har­rods. The ex­u­ber­ance of her work stems from her child­hood in the south of France. ‘My mum’s house was full of colour and she loved African pat­terns. My fa­ther is an ar­chi­tect, and al­ways had Mem­phis-style pieces in his home,’ she ex­plains. The in­flu­ence of Italy’s 1980s Mem­phis col­lec­tive is clear in her de­signs. ‘I’ve al­ways loved the play­ful­ness of Mem­phis,’ she says. ‘It re­minds me to have fun with my work and bring a smile to peo­ple’s faces.’

Villa Walala, her in­stal­la­tion for this year’s Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val, is sure to do just that. Cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with event spon­sor Bri­tish Land, this ‘bouncy cas­tle’ will take over Ex­change Square in Broadgate. Made from dig­i­tally printed PVC, vinyl and ny­lon, it will be sur­rounded by floor graph­ics – ‘To bring a bit more colour and pat­tern to the sea of grey in the area,’ says Walala.

East Lon­don is a fa­mil­iar stamp­ing ground for the de­signer – who has pre­vi­ously dec­o­rated club in­te­ri­ors, cafés and build­ing ex­te­ri­ors around Shored­itch – but why pick this lo­ca­tion? ‘Broadgate is such a vi­brant place,’ she en­thuses. ‘Over 65 mil­lion peo­ple pass through it every year. Ex­change Square is where peo­ple from the City come to eat; I imag­ine their jobs are quite stress­ful, so I wanted to ex­plore the idea of es­cap­ing the of­fice and let­ting off steam.’

Orig­i­nally, Walala had planned to make a gi­ant stress ball, but when that proved im­pos­si­ble, ‘my thoughts moved to other things that would be good to squeeze’. Smaller stress balls ‘and more sur­prises’ are among the treats promised.

Walala seems nat­u­rally drawn to work­ing on a large scale: she uses the walls of her Hack­ney home as a test can­vas and says she would love to trans­form the Lon­don sky­line with colour. ‘There are some coun­cil estates I’d love to paint, in par­tic­u­lar one called Sivill House near where I live,’ she says. ‘Every time I pass it on my bike I start plot­ting which colour would go where.’

To get an idea of what Walala’s Lon­don makeover might look like, Villa Walala is a good place to start. From to­day un­til 24 Septem­ber; lon­don de­sign­fes­ti­val.com; camille­walala.com

‘I wanted to ex­plore the idea of es­cap­ing the of­fice and let­ting off steam’

Hav­ing es­tab­lished them­selves as some of Bri­tain’s pre-em­i­nent mak­ers of hand­crafted wooden fur­ni­ture, hus­ban­dand-wife duo Pinch De­sign are ex­plor­ing new ter­ri­tory. In 2015, they showed their ex­per­i­men­tal side with the launch of the Nim cof­fee ta­ble, spear­head­ing a trend for de­signs made in the com­pos­ite ma­te­rial Jes­monite. Now they have teamed up with ce­ram­ics brand 1882 Ltd to cre­ate a range of table­ware, to be un­veiled at their Pim­lico store dur­ing the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val.

Those fa­mil­iar with their un­der­stated style may be sur­prised by the volup­tuous shape sand colour­ful pat­terns of the Flare col­lec­tion. ‘ We ap­proached it in the same way we ap­proach our fur­ni­ture – we wanted to ref­er­ence clas­sic forms and thought about the ex­ag­ger­ated as­pects of ar­mour,’ says Rus­sell Pinch.

The col­lec­tion was two years in the mak­ing, af­ter Pinch and his wife Oona Ban­non had lunch with Emily John­son, co-founder of 1882 Ltd, and de­cided to col­lab­o­rate.

‘There was an in­stant meet­ing of minds and I am a firm be­liever in chem­istry,’ says John­son, whose pre­vi­ous col­lab­o­ra­tors have in­cluded Faye Too good and Max Lamb. Seek­ing in­spi­ra­tion for a joint project, the three toured the ce­ram­ics gal­leries at the V&A, dis­cussed their love of mid-cen­tury Bri­tish ce­ram­i­cist Lu­cie Rie, and vis­ited the Stoke fac­to­ries where 1882 Ltd’s de­signs are made.

John­son had ini­tially sug­gested fo­cus­ing on sur­face pat­tern, but Pinch and Ban­non steered her to­wards form, their nat­u­ral forte. In the end, their de­signs ex­celled in both areas. ‘ The white ver­sions are sub­lime in their sim­plic­ity, and the hand-painted ones are a cel­e­bra­tion of colour and pat­tern, with masses of per­son­al­ity,’ says Ban­non.

Early sam­ples of the de­signs in­spired them to go for a matt fin­ish, but this proved a tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenge. ‘Be­fore the glaze is added, bone china is won­der­fully raw, but it also stains eas­ily,’ says Pinch. ‘In the end, we de­cided to glaze the pieces and then sand­blast the out­side, which gives the aes­thetic we wanted as well as the prac­ti­cal­ity.’

De­spite its spec­tac­u­lar ap­pear­ance, the range is meant for every­day use, says John­son. ‘A lovely kind of every­day – but that is what 1882 Ltd is all about.’

Ex­pect more new de­par­tures from Pinch De­sign next year – they are work­ing on their first bed­room col­lec­tion as well as new light­ing con­cepts. In the mean­time, the Flare in­stal­la­tion dur­ing LDF is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to com­pare their work on a big and small scale.

Above, left to right Villa Walala, Camille Walala’s de­sign in­stal­la­tion for the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val; Walala stand­ing in­side one of her bright cre­ations

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