In its sixth year, Tent London continues to be a bright shining beacon for independent contemporary designers. Drawing consumers, interior designers and specifier’s with an eye for the not-so-ordinary. But why is it called Tent?
The show is actually split into two parts both conceptually and physically. The Ground floor was subject to ‘Super Brands London’; a rare opportunity to see a selection of the worlds most progressive furniture, lighting and interiors brands outside of Milan Saloni, who have long been absent from trade shows held in the UK.
The first floor is the main event, ‘Tent London’, and is dedicated entirely to fresh independent designers. It was where I headed first, knowing it would be the larger area to explore, however I hadn’t realised it would be quite so large, and quite so rammed to the gills with interesting people and products. After an hour I realised I hadn’t even made it down the first row yet. Already I could tell this was unlike any other interiors trade show I’d been to before; I was enjoying myself too much.
Tent was a joy to explore, I think it is because it champions the small independent designers so well, providing an affordable way for them to present their wares to the market. Most of the actual designers and craftspeople were manning their own stalls; who better else to tell you about their great products than the people who made them and care deeply about them? I’ve included a host of brief video interviews throughout this report that will give you a glimpse of the enthusiasm pouring out from these people.
Jon has turned his hand to many creative endeavours over the years, and his current interest lies in lamps that he creates by merging parts of old light fixtures he finds on Ebay.
For some oversized spray can tip stools, giant submerged I ‘Heart’ New York mug chairs and ice cream and skull lamp shades, Alex Garnett is your man. Some weird and wonderful items that could easily be used in the right interior to add a bit of interest and surrealism.
We have featured the work of Sarah Turner on this blog before, most recently when she was commissioned to create recycled sculptures for the Olympic village. Here she introduces us to her new lamps.
The Silva Patio chair by Popalipana is an unpretentious patio / lounge chair with a great Caribbean aesthetic.
From bright lights to bright rugs. Sonya Winner creates bold and striking rugs constructed of concentric shapes. Her designs are inspired by famous artists work and can be wall hung as well as laid on the floor.
This was Zoe’s fourth year at Tent. Her uniquely upcycled furnishings are doing very well and it’s easy to see why.
A non-profit social business that produces all their rugs with Kumbeshwar Technical School in Katmandu, Nepal. The school was set up as an education and support centre for disadvantaged people.
The rugs are all designed by top contemporary artists from around the UK, but any design can be made if so desired. The finished rugs are entirely hand made using traditional Tibetan carpet making techniques and pure Tibetan wool. The results are beautiful, merging traditional crafts with contemporary illustrators, graphic designers and artists.
If contemporary sustainable funiture is more your bag then Understorey have a very considered approach to funiture design. I was most impressed with their coffee table that consists of three wooden pegs, clipped to the table top and held firmly in place by rope twisted around a stick.
SEER and VINCENT / VERA
One of the most impressive things I saw launched at Tent was this SEER table and chair set. It was impressive because it married function and form perfectly to make a table and chairs for four people seemlessly transform into a table and chairs for eight people.
Fresh Taiwan was a stand that brought together many talented designers from Taiwan. It was an impressive array of many different homewares, but what I liked the most were the elegant Waving Tree cup holder, ZEN jewellery stand and The Blue Bird door hooks.
Although these aren’t strictly interior items I couldn’t help to be charmed by the Detective survival guide Notebook by KIMU design – kawaii!
The work of Lazlo Tompa on the Hungarian Investment and Trade Agency stall was very impressive. His Flower Lamps and Cube Illusion box are lathe cut geometric shapes, cleverly fitted together to create an optical trick of the eye.
Former fashion designer Kristjana Williams has turned her talents to interiors, creating a wonderful collection that features vintage imagery that has been retouched and layered to make colourful fantasy landscapes featuring a plethora of objects and animals.
This was the last stand I came to before leaving Tent and what a nice way to remember the show by. Tasasine Osher has been causing quivers with her designs for a little while now. Here she was exhibiting her new space saving shelf come bike rack, spring stools and wood pendant lamps. I’d read about the spring stools before, but it wasn’t until I sat on one that I realised they can actually be springy if you want them to be; just like having a kids play park in your home, I want one!
After spending the day at Tent, I was still none the wiser as too why it was named after an essential piece of outdoor camping gear. But upon reflection (and a quick google search) I found that Tent can also mean ‘to pay attention to” or “to attend” [Middle English tenten, from tent, attention, short for attent, from Old French attente]. So actually it’s a great name for a show because that’s exactly what Tent London does, it grabs your attention, it fire hoses your imagination with icy water and hypnotises you with eye watering good design.