Names to know
Checking out the London Design Fair
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