We heard from top designer Tom Dixon earlier this week about the importance of offering an all-round experience if The London Design Festival is to carry on growing, and visiting The Dock yesterday shows he is more than happy to practice what he preaches. It’s a fun, diverting and relaxed corner of the LDF where commercialism and leisure sit side by side with ease.
As soon as you duck down off Ladbroke Grove you feel like you enter a different world, a little corner of design paradise where interesting ideas, a friendly atmosphere and the waters of the Portobello Dock combine to admirable effect.
This year alongside Tom’s new products, including a new mini version of his iconic Void light and a stunning, delicate Etch light, there’s Ariane Prin carving lovely pencils using the sawdust from the Tom Dixon studio, Print Club London creating and selling their striking screenprints, and Arno Mathies and Max Frommeld messing about on the water, demonstrating their fold up boat on the canal.
Fittingly for a place which is a realisation of so many of Tom’s ideas, on Thursday there was a panel discussion focussing on another key issue facing the design industry – the thorny question of how to keep making things in Britain. It was a lively and informative hour, featuring the host designer himself, Marek Reichman, design director of Aston Martin and Professor James Woudhuysen, a specialist in forecasting and innovation at De Montford University.
All three agreed that the increasing dislocation between design and manufacturing had to be addressed, with Mr Reichman saying the two “spoke a different language.” They also shared a belief that more collaboration between different sectors of the creative industries could help breed innovation but said the Government had to back them. As Tom Dixon put it: “If the Government doesn’t put its money where its mouth is, nothing is going to change.”
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