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100% Design > October, 2000

Most trade fairs offer a bewildering mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, with emphasis on the latter. 100% Design, held in London October 5-8, though, has higher aspirations. Spanning a broad spectrum of furniture, furnishings and accessories, the four-day event feels like an upmarket department store. A process of screening maintains standards with only half the wannabe exhibitors accepted, and to compensate for the dampening effect of the anonymous Earl's Court venue, a leading interior designer is brought in each year to create ambience. This year, it was Ben Kelly, best known for his clubs and bars.

100% Design attracted big name manufacturers from design superpowers such as Italy, as well as the latest crop of YBDs (Young British Designers). The Italians have dazzled the world for the last four decades with their stylish furniture and lighting, and heavyweight companies represented at this year's fair included B & B Italia, Cappellini, iGuzzini, Cassina and Driade. This is where you headed to see the likes of Antonio Citterio and Mario Bellini, and at Cappellini's stand you were also treated to the cream of British talent in the form of Jasper Morrison and BOA

Among the British manufacturers, Hitch Mylius and SCP shine like beacons. Hitch Mylius, who specializes in exquisite upholstered furniture, launched their second collection of seating by architect David Chipperfield, while the latest offerings from SCP include a table by Michael Young, a daybed by artist Rachel Whiteread and new designs by the perennially creative Matthew Hilton.

But in spite of a wealth of native talent, design-led British furniture companies are still rare at the main show. Even at the off-site show DesignerBlock - held at the closed down legendary St. Pancras Fire Station - the most interesting new designs were from outside of England. The five Norwegians in [Norway Says] impressed everyone who dropped by - including Bellini and Tom Dixon - with their wide range of Scandinavian - and still playful - furniture and accessories. Sputnik from Japan once again dazzled us with the most original and striking stand in all of London, and keep an eye on ___ who with their clever, funky and original furniture designs are bound to be a huge hit.

Back to the main show, following the success of twentytwentyone's Childsply initiative, this year saw the launch of Biscuit, a collection of upmarket plywood children's furniture by newly-formed Oreka Kids. Biscuit is co-ordinated by Jerwood Prize -winning Michael Marriott, and along with examples of his work, it includes imaginative pieces by Shin and Tomoko Azumi, Sebastian Bergne and Andrew Stafford. Encompassing virtually the whole of the contemporary British furniture scene, this stand was one of the show's busiest

100% Design is unique in that it attempts to showcase the establishment alongside the off-beat. The Spanish collective El Ultimo Grito, who have benefited enormously from its attention, will be hoping for continued success with What Goes Down Must Come Up, a laundry bin which rises and falls according to weight. El Ultimo Grito is in Totem's searchlight for special projects, as is designRAW, a collective of 7½ San Francisco that never seize to amuse. Their conceptual designs puts design into new contexts, so look for designRAW at the Totem Gallery early next year.

For design aficionados with boffin tendencies, 100% Design has plenty to offer. Inflate are guaranteed to be entertaining and innovative. Recently, they discovered the joys of rotation-moulded plastics, and this year marks the launch of Sir Stickle, a lamp which can be stacked in multiples and doubles as a seat. You can't quite imagine something this crazy happening at the furniture fairs of Milan or Cologne.
For more information please contact David Shearer at 212-925-5506 or at
Copyright © 2008 David Shearer   
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