London Design Festival 2013: Creative Illuminations

From Indian-inspired modular pendants to woven willow chandeliers, eight lights radiating from the UK's annual furniture fair

Despite the recent infatuation with the Edison bulb, in the past few years there have been drastic improvements made to commercial incandescent lights; from miniature LEDs to the handsome, energy-saving Plumen. And while that remains an exciting and innovative field to watch, on our recent trip to London for its annual Design Festival, we were struck by the diversely creative ways in which designers are thinking about how to project light, create ambiance and speak to the desire for handmade in an industrial sector. Below are eight examples of this artistic prowess.

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Peter Marigold: Ball O String

Part of OKAY Studio‘s “Loose Thread” exhibit at Ben Sherman’s Mod_ular Blanc space in East London, Peter Marigold‘s “Ball O String” lamp channels the distinct way in which a correctly rolled ball of string is its own container and, once unraveled, leaves behind “a hollow shell of the original volume.” His figurative approach to the light project is at once functional and sculptural, speaking to his studies in fine art at Central Saint Martins and then product design at the Royal College of Art.

Woodstar: Trinity Shades

Brighton-based Woodstar brought a Bali-esque touch to central London’s Designjunction with their impeccably crafted Trinity shades. An environmentally conscious shop specialized in “shaping wood into curved, circular and spherical forms,” Woodstar keeps sustainability at the forefront of their creative endeavors, and is inspired by wood’s unique regenerative capability.

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Ed Swan: The Fine Line

Also on view at the “Loose Thread” show was RCA grad Ed Swan‘s totem-like floor lamp, dubbed “The Fine Line” thanks to its main feature—a bright green electrical cable that, when loosened, allows the lamp to be disassembled, and when pulled taut and wound around the base, keeps the lamp rigidly upright. To highlight this function, Swan removed a 90° section of the turned wooden lamp, which simultaneously allows for different ways to display its form.

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Jess Shaw: Traveller’s Joy

British designer Jess Shaw—whose large-scale installations have graced the V&A and beyond—created “Traveller’s Joy” specifically for Tent London, where its whimsical structure played beautifully against the building’s concrete walls. Diligently woven from clematis vitalba, or Old Man’s Beard, the one-off chandelier expresses Shaw’s interest in making “imaginative and emotional lighting designs.”

Mineheart: King Edison Pendant Lamp

Young & Battaglia‘s cheeky “King Edison” bulbs required a second look at the Mineheart booth at Tent London. The lights feature a miniature brass chandelier inside a hand-blown glass pendant, in an effort to combine the simple aesthetics of an Edison bulb with the romance of Victorian era chandeliers.

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Poetic Lab: Ripple

Taipei-born, London-based RCA grad ShiKai Tseng—who works under the moniker Poetic Lab—dazzled Designjunction-goers with his Ripple lights, which feature a slowly rotating mouth-blown glass dome to create ever-changing illuminations as they spin. Have a look at our quick Instagram video to see them in full effect.

POS1T1ON COLLECTIVE: Prān Pendant Lamps

Though inspired by the “distinguishing shapes” of Indian culture, POS1T1ON COLLECTIVE‘s Prān pendants are at their very foundation designed around the concept of modularity and the customization it allows within the home. The five friends behind POS1T1ON debuted their lamp range at Designjunction, which in its entirety is comprised of around 50 interchangeable units.

Bec Brittain: Maxhedron

While originally created in 2012 by Bec Brittain for NYC-based studio Roll & Hill, the Maxhedron was shown in a new light during the American Design Club‘s first-ever takeover of Shoreditch design fixture SCP. The double-functioning light serves as a striking mirrored object reflecting its surroundings when turned off, and when illuminated becomes a “constellation of points” due to tiny bulbs hidden within the oblong structure’s numerous corners.

Photos by Karen Day and Evan Orensten