Lee Broom – Park Life

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British designer Lee Broom reveals ‘Park Life’, a dazzling pop-up exhibition in a car park in Sydney


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UK design talent Lee Broom is known for glamorous lighting, furniture and accessories. His shows are just as cutting-edge, with the rising star previously exhibiting his work in a mock department store, a mobile van (albeit one tricked out with an elegant room interior) and on a fairground carousel. Now Broom is taking over an underground car park below Space’s Sydney furniture showroom for ambitious pop-up ‘Park Life’, sharing his new lights with the public in a modernist maze. The Alexandria installation will be his largest to date, covering 4,000 square feet, with the free exhibition running from 14 to 20 March.

‘I am delighted to return to Australia to present this exciting exhibition with Space Furniture,’ says Broom. ‘Australia has been a big supporter of my work for many years and it is an honour to create such a significant installation to showcase my collection in Sydney.’

TOP: The entrance to Sydney’s subterranean ‘Park Life’ maze pavilion, with Lee Broom flanked by his ‘Orion Globe’ and ‘Orion Tube’ lights. ABOVE RIGHT: Fix up, look sharp… London lighting designer Lee Broom before he turned blonde for his Australian tour

A former actor and fashion designer, Broom is known for his trademark sharp look, teaming simple classic and street-savvy details. His designs also reinterpret classical styles in contemporary ways, giving them an unexpected edge. Expect more striking fusions at immersive experience ‘Park Life’, where he’ll be transforming the raw, concrete, industrial car park into his take on a trad English garden.

ABOVE: Lee Broom’s surreal modernist garden maze ‘Park Life’ in Sydney, a beautifully resolved installation featuring his lighting, accessories and furniture in a series of 16 illuminated room sets. Enchanting vignettes play with ideas from chess boards and Newton’s Cradles to cascading waterfalls and trompe l’oeil reflections

Channelling a meandering maze, the pop-up will take guests on ‘a poetic journey of discovery through hidden passageways, with tableaus and vignettes,’ says Broom, showcasing his lighting, furniture and accessories. Inspiration hails from 18th-century pleasure gardens, with their mazes and miniature waterways, amusing visitors with the latest art, architecture, music and illuminations. However, Broom gives the concept a modernist spin, aiming to create a sense of escapism, entertainment and drama.

ABOVE: More mesmerising moments from the ‘Park Life’ pavilion. A white polycarbonate box within the concrete car park, its interconnecting spaces are lined with pale gravel, with designs displayed beside classical statues on boxy, layered plinths. Black acrylic, cut-outs and mirror add surprise to surfaces

If Broom’s mind-bending 2017 trompe l’oeil installation ‘On Reflection’ at his London showroom is anything to go by, design hunters should be in for a treat. Broom chose to show in Sydney, not Milan this year, reaching out to his Australian and Asia-Pacific fanbase, and has put all his creative energy into crafting a surreally beautiful space, guaranteed to whisk visitors into wonderland.

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ABOVE: Lee Broom’s new ‘Eclipse’ pendant lights, updated in polished gold, will be showcased at the pop-up

Debuting at the ‘Park Life’ installation is a new version of Broom’s award-winning ‘Eclipse’ light in a polished gold finish, a warmer, softer interpretation of the original chrome. Like an elegant mobile, these sculptural pendants look different from every angle, with mirror-polished gold and acrylic discs interacting, simultaneously eclipsing and revealing their charms.

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ABOVE FROM LEFT: ‘Eclipse’ chandelier three piece in sheeny gold. The design also comes as a table lamp, with all three variations available to order from April. Broom’s ‘Orion Tube’ and ‘Orion Globe’ pendant lights in polished gold

‘Park Life’ is part of Broom’s wider #LBTour of Asia and Australia, which has seen him give design talks at Space’s showrooms in Singapore for Singapore Design Week (4-17 March), and Brisbane, with another to come at Space Melbourne on 14 March (6pm-9pm) for Melbourne Design Week (14-24 March). Design fans can buy tickets to the Melbourne event, in which Broom will chat about his career, global brand and the experimental nature of design. Plans are also afoot for him to talk at ECC’s Auckland showroom in New Zealand. Don’t miss this illuminating talent…
leebroom.com spacefurniture.com.au

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ABOVE: Broom’s circular ‘Carousel XL’ pendant light in matte black at the installation, inspired by British fairground merry-go-rounds

Free exhibition ‘Park Life’ is at Space, 84 O’Riordan Street, Alexandria, Sydney, from 14 to 20 March 2019 (open daily 10am to 5pm); a launch evening on 13 March is by invite only. Lee Broom’s products are available exclusively in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia from Space Furniture. His ticketed Melbourne talk is at Space, 629 Church Street, Richmond, on 14 March (6pm-9pm)

Pictures: Craig Wall (Sydney installation)

10 FizzPicks for Denfair Sydney 2018


Contemporary design show Denfair hits Sydney for the first time this week, offering inspiration aplenty for design hunters


Australia's leading contemporary design exhibition Denfair launches its first Sydney edition this week, after successfully establishing the event in Melbourne. Expect more than 50 local and international brands sharing new and bestselling products at Moore Park's Hordern Pavilion, with furniture, lighting, accessories, rugs, bathware, art and outdoor living in the frame. Running from 16 to 18 August, the show welcomes industry designers, architects, stylists and their clients over the first two days, with Saturday open to the public.

Keen design hunters can enjoy free tickets to the public day care of DesignFizz x Denfair by clicking on the following link. Trade visitors can register online, with an awards ceremony on Thursday night (6pm-9pm). Here are 10 of our top tips to whet your appetite...

ABOVE: Anaesthetic's new 'Duomo' light, shown here as a wall sconce or stem wall light. It comes in a range of finishes, from aged brass to powercoated, and in white, matte black, grey or aged brass colours

New Zealand lighting brand Anaesthetic, headed up by Ben and Kiri Wahrlich, engineers and makes its designs in Melbourne. Look out for their curvy new 'Duomo' light, which pairs minimal aesthetics with hand-finished aged brass. Inspired by Italian domed churches, the range includes a wall sconce, stem wall light, pendant light and table lamp, with several eye-catching variations.

ABOVE: Outdoor living brand Tait's 'Trace' sunlounge by Australian designer Adam Goodrum is new for Denfair Sydney; Goodrum's award-winning 2017 'Trace' outdoor furniture collection; Adam Cornish's 'Seam' chair for homes or offices launched at June's Denfair in Melbourne

Australian brand Tait introduces Adam Goodrum's inviting 'Trace' sunlounge, the newest addition to his 'Trace' outdoor furniture collection. Made from airy stainless steel mesh, aluminium, sustainable timber and marbled porcelain, the range features a sofa, armchair, modular combination, coffee tables, drinks trolley and planter. Adam Cornish's award-winning aluminium 'Seam' chair, flaunting a seamed spine, is ideal for compact indoor or alfresco spaces.

ABOVE: Cult celebrates Arne Jacobsen's designs for Copenhagen's SAS Royal Hotel, including his iconic 'Egg' chairs; 'Pot', 'Egg' and 'Swan' chairs by Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen; his reissued 'Pot' chair in a range of colours with a chromed steel base; the 60th anniversary edition of 'Egg', 'Swan' and 'Drop' in a natural palette of Pure leather, Sera wool fabric and 23-karat gold-plated aluminium

Inspired by the Orchid Bar at Copenhagen's SAS Royal Hotel, Australian design firm Cult's Denfair stand celebrates 60 years since the hotel's design and its iconic chairs by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen. On show will be Fritz Hansen's limited-edition 60th anniversary collection including Jacobsen's 'Swan', 'Egg' and 'Drop' chairs, plus his newly reissued 'Pot' chairs. Scandi heaven!

ABOVE: 'New Volumes Collection 01' on show at Artedomus's stand, including furniture, lighting and accessories; Ros Gardam's 'Hemera' desk lamp; high and low 'Hurlysi' side tables by Thomas Coward; and the 'Bacchus' table by Tom Skeehan, all crafted from Elba stone

Quarried from beautiful, natural Elba stone in Greece, the 'New Volumes' collection presented by Sydney's Artedomus showcases simple, sculptural furniture, lighting and accessories designed by some of Australia's hottest talents. We love the Brutalist 'Hemera' desk lamp by Ros Gardam, the sensual 'Hurlysi' side tables by Thomas Coward and the 'Bacchus' coffee table by Tom Skeehan.

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ABOVE: Nood Co's new concrete 'Pill' basins in Australian-inspired colours will brighten up any bathroom

Crafting contemporary concrete furniture and homewares, Nood Co launches curvy new pill-shaped 'Pill' basins at Denfair, available in 10 pastel-pretty colours from blush pink to mint and power blue. The squarer 'Cube' surface-mount wash basin comes in the same hues for bathroom bliss. They're among 15 new Australian-designed and manufactured products by Matt Di Costa.

ABOVE: Pitch Acoustics's sound-absorbent designs, including floor screens and fabric-covered MDF 'Timber' wall panels by Zilenzio; arrange the diamond-shaped components of Zilenzio's 'Fazett' wall-mounted system to suit your space

Need to muffle sound in a stylish way? Sydney-based Pitch Acoustics offers innovative fabric-covered wood 'Timber' wall panelling by Swedish brand Zilenzio, from graphic wall pieces to elegant herringbone patterns, or classic full- or decorative half-wall panels. We also like Zilenzio's 'Fazett' wall-mounted system of diamond-shaped, fabric-covered MDF panels in different colours.

ABOVE: Swedese's 'Button' sofa and 'Spin' stool, both represented at Denfair Sydney by Cube and Circle

Waterloo-based Sydney store Cube and Circle is exclusive Australian distributor for Swedish brand Swedese's covetable contemporary furniture, including Swedish duo Front's 2017-launched 'Button' sofa (which allows you to attach stylish accessories) and 2011's technically complex stackable wooden 'Spin' stool by Staffan Holm. They also represent Scandi brand Cuero Design.

ABOVE: Designer Rugs' range includes the graphic green 'Rift' rug and swirly blue 'Current' rug by Lia Pielli from the in-house 'Transient' collection, and the (wall-mounted) 'Corner Halving' rug by industrial design studio Mr Fräg, hand-tufted in New Zealand wool and bamboo silk

Collaborating with Australian talents, Designer Rugs offers in-house and designer collections for residential and commercial clients, with contemporary rugs made from tactile New Zealand wool. Some are hand-knotted or hand-tufted, others include innovative materials such as gleaming bamboo silk or nettle. We love 'Rift' and 'Current' by Lia Pielli from 2017's 'Transient' collection.

ABOVE: The visually lightweight, rattan 'Wicked' armchair and 'Basket' tables by Alain Gilles for Vincent Sheppard, available in Australia from Cotswold InOut Furniture

For that indoor-outdoor lifestyle, check out Cotswold InOut Furniture, which will be championing pieces such as 2016's rattan and lacquered aluminium 'Wicked' sofa and armchair range by Alain Gilles for Belgian firm Vincent Sheppard, which specialises in Lloyd Loom woven furniture, alongside in-house Cotswold Teak alfresco designs.


ABOVE: The Raconteur's five-strong 'Bondi' scented candle collection, featuring coastal imagery inspired by Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach

For a must-have local accessory, The Raconteur's luxe scented candles take inspiration from Sydney's Bondi, Melbourne, the Red Centre and Hamilton Island. Hand-poured in Sydney from soy wax and free of nasties, they draw on Australian botanicals, such as native Port Jackson fig and coastal banksia in 'Bondi 1' (one of five Bondi candles). Packaging incorporates evocative photos. Denfair sees the release of a debut Tasmanian candle, featuring boronia flower and native pepper.

Denfair is at Hordern Pavilion, 1 Driver Avenue, Moore Park, Sydney from 14 to 18 August 2018. Opening hours are Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday 11am-7pm (trade days) and Saturday 10am-5pm (public day). DesignFizz followers can get free entry to the public day by using link https://bit.ly/2M6HI18. Children aged under 16 aren't permitted.

Design Shanghai 2017


This week's Design Shanghai trade fair showcases emerging Chinese talent alongside international brands 


For such a huge economic powerhouse, it's surprising that China has been relatively low-key when it comes to design talent. Design Shanghai 2017 aims to change all that, showcasing established and emerging Chinese designers alongside major global brands and galleries. Asia's largest annual design fair kicks off this week from 8 to 11 March at Shanghai Exhibition Centre, drawing queues of excited design hunters.

More than 300 exhibitors are on show across five halls, exploring how western and eastern design philosophies can work in synergy: Contemporary; Classic and Luxury; Collectibles; Kitchen & Bathroom; and Workplace. Prestigious international brands, such as Europe's Minotti, Roche Bobois, Hay, Magis and Moroso, are here, sharing their latest launches and keen to penetrate the lucrative Chinese market.

TOP: 'Milà' plastic chair by Jaime Hayón for Italian brand Magis, one of the A-List European brands on show at Design Shanghai's Contemporary hall. We love the Sino red!
ABOVE: Chinese Contemporary designs include Fnji's handmade wooden furniture; Frank Chou Design Studio's 'Suit' lounge chair and stool; and Haostyle's Ming-inspired 'The Dragon Chair' by Wen Hao

Perhaps more intriguing for overseas visitors are the less well known Chinese names in the frame, making up an increasing proportion of the fair. Local stands in the Contemporary hall include Beijing's Frank Chou Design Studio, showing clean-lined, graphic seating, Fnji Furniture's simple handmade wooden works, EY-Products alluring accessories, Suyab Design's nature-inspired modern wood pieces, ALiTLE's sleek chairs, Haostyle's Sino-luxe collection, 8hourdesign's eye-catching side tables and Yuso's playful seating.

ABOVE: Mumoon's 'Glob' pendant lamps by Phillip Ding and X+Q Art's sculpture 'The Grandmaster' by Qu Guangci are also on show in the Contemporary hall

For evocative lighting, check out Mumoon's covetable modern collection and Xin Yaoyao's paper pendant lights. You'll find witty Sino-motif objects at  X+Q Art.

Look out for special installations, such as the new China Design Trends Gallery, in which local consultants Yang Design will forecast four future design trends (strategy director Xiaojing Huang will also release a trend report). Re-Design Shanghai is a collaboration between design mag IDEAT and architect Shuhei Oyama to create a futuristic vision of Shanghai's cityscape, fusing traditional and modern elements. The IDEAT Future Award, focussed on influential designs, will also be announced on 8 March. Plug & Hug's interactive globe lights glow brighter the more they're hugged.

Don't miss the debut Emerging Chinese Designer Platform, curated with interiors magazine AD China, which will feature 10 up-and-coming design talents inspired by the theme 'New China Vision'. Expect undulating furniture by Qiaolin Gong and Weijia Wang, industrial-chic chairs and tables by Wenqiang Li, beautiful bronze works by Daishi Luo, minimal blue pots by Qingtong Qian, and sculptural accessories by Xiang Chen and Weijie Huang.

More than 30 speakers will be at the fair's core Forum, including international design talents Benjamin Hubert, Paul Cocksedge, Peter Ting, Bethan Laura Wood and Karim Rashid. Regional names to note include Hong Kong's André Fu and Jesse McLin and Julie Proglin of ceramics duo Latitude 22N. The theme is 'global design, global craft, global manufacturing'.

ABOVE: Highlights from DS in the City's Design Shanghai @ Xintiandi off-site zone include installations 'Dragon Tree' by Media 10; 'Biofore Tea House' by UPM; 'Mesh' public bench by Zhoujie Zhang; 'Moon Birdy' outdoor lights by Pascal Bosetti; 'Malleus Time-Out' prints by Arnd; and exhibition 'New Eastern Making'

Extending its tentacles across town, Design Shanghai in the City includes interesting off-site activities. The main event is Design Shanghai @ Xintiandi (6-19 March), examining the city of the future, with 18 interactive spaces and installations by local and international designers and artists. Highlights include Media 10's 3D projection-mapped 'Dragon Tree' and recycling/deconstruction group exhibition 'New Eastern Making'. You can catch a design tour (daily 1pm-9pm, 8-11 March) taking in Shanghai's best design showrooms, galleries and architecture, between the fairground and Xintiandi zone. Stops include global stores House of Tai Ping, Roca, Leicht, Hay, Minotti and Senab, as well as Nordic-influenced Chinese decor from W+S. Fashion and art have already captured China's imagination, now it's design's turn to shine...

Design Shanghai 2017 is at Shanghai Exhibition Centre, No. 1000 Yan'an Mid Road, Jing'an, from 8 to 11 March 2017. Open Wednesday 10am-9pm, Thursday-Saturday 10am-6pm (last entry one hour before closing time). Tickets are RMB 175 in advance or RMB 270 on the door, including optional showguide (RMB 50)

ABOVE: The House of Tai Ping will launch its 'Blur' rug collection at Design Shanghai, inspired by vintage photography, alongside a range by Hong Kong talent André Fu

At Home: Modern Australian Design

Sydney's Old Government House has been given a magical contemporary twist with 'At Home', an inspired exhibition of modern Australian design


We love a ramble through a stately home, but for antiques plus attitude don't miss brilliant show 'At Home: Modern Australian Design', taking over Sydney's Old Government House in Parramatta until 22 January 2017. Hosted by the National Trust and curated by eagle-eyed design editor David Clark (who formerly helmed Vogue Living), it places hand-picked contemporary objects by over 60 of the country's leading designers cheek-by-jowl with historic pieces, exploring the nation's domestic aesthetics. The result is a marriage made in style heaven, with cutting-edge furniture, lighting, textiles, wallpaper and accessories both complementing and contrasting with the original interiors, making you look at them in a fabulously fresh light.

TOP: Adam Goodrum's vibrant aluminium 'Stitch' chair (2008) for Cappellini beside his wood and Marbro 'Broached Colonial Birdsmouth' table (2011) for Broached Commissions in the Old Government House dining room. Vert Design's 2016 digitally modelled, milky-white versions of Lucien Henry's 19th-century 'Waratah' decanter and 'Protea' cups perch on the table

ABOVE: Sarah King's leather-like carbon-fibre 'Carbon Wingback' chair (2009) in the governor's office, flanked by Daniel Emma's mixed-media 'D.E Desk' accessories (2010). Laundry marker on lino artwork 'The day a white man gave a black man (his) land' (2006) by Joan Ross hangs on the wall

For an atmospheric arrival, take the ferry from Circular Quay up the Parramatta River, then walk to leafy Parramatta Park where Old Government House oozes venerable charm. The 'country home' of the first 10 governors of New South Wales, from 1799 to 1855, it's Australia's oldest surviving public building, a convict-built World Heritage site and host to a significant collection of late Georgian furniture. But the period drama really amps up once you go inside, with the exhibition's subtle and striking juxtapositions of iconic, recent and new Australian designs inserted into hallways, lounges, dining room, bedrooms and even the kitchen. 'I hope it demonstrates the more expressive edge of contemporary Australian design,' says Clark. 'The hybrids and curiosities, the bespoke and beautiful, the exuberant, quirky and odd.'

ABOVE: Louise Olsen's handmade resin 'Liquid Moon' side table (2016) in 'Seaweed Malachite' for Dinosaur Designs, with toile artwork by Cloth's Julie Paterson; Korban/Flaubert's sculptural stainless steel 'Armour' screen (2012) in the hall, complemented by chequered floors

The kernel for the show sprang from the 2011 'Broached Colonial' collection by Melbourne design studio Broached Commissions, which included work by Adam Goodrum, Charles Wilson and Trent Jansen and riffed on colonial Australia. Clark was keen to see the pieces in the context of Old Government House, alongside other modern designs. While some contemporary items have a colonial feel – from decanters and tea sets to sleekly crafted wooden chairs – others are digitally produced, streamlined products that bring 21st-century bang to the building's vintage buck, or draw on radical materials including salvaged car parts, carbon fibre and glossy resin.

ABOVE: Curves in all the right places – created especially for the exhibition Fred Ganim's Belgian oak 'Plane' table (2016), with Japanese black stain, sits below the swirling staircase

An impressive roll call of local talent is on display, from Adam Goodrum's laser-cut, folding 'Stitch' chair, designed in 2008 for Italian brand Cappellini, to Grant and Mary Featherston's vintage 'Scape' armchair from 1960, reissued in 2016 by Grazia & Co. Established pieces by Marc NewsonRobert Foster and Dinosaur Designs are here, alongside newer creations by up-and-coming names. We love Adelaide duo Daniel Emma's 'D.E Desk' accessories, Henry Wilson's bronze 'Fin' bookends, 'Stack' trays and 'Surface' sconce lamps, and Trent Jansen's terracotta 'Jugaad with Pottery' vessels, created in India.

ABOVE: Broached Commissions' 'Piano' credenza (2013) by Adam Goodrum, made from piano ivory, timber and felt, sheet music and Victorian ash, with Charles Wilson's Tasmanian blackwood 'Government' side table (2007); The sci-fi shape of Marc Newson's tubular steel, foam and wool 'Embryo' chair (1988) contrasts with its heritage surrounds

Like a sinuous racetrack, Fred Ganim's undulating 'Plane' table occupies a startling location in the atrium, below the two-story building's curvy wooden staircase. Taking the spot usually occupied by a hurricane lantern by the hall's entry portico, ADesignStudio's 'Greenway' pendant lamp teams classic hand-blown glass and brass with 3D-printed polymers and LED lights, typifying the collision of old and new in the show. Another heavenly hybrid is the 'Waratah' decanter and 'Protea' cups, originally drawn by Lucien Henry (1889-91) but digitally remodelled by Vert Design in 2016, using 3D-printed polymers. Australia's decorative past meets its high-tech future...

ABOVE: Culture-clash rules in the upstairs lounge, decorated with terracotta 'Jugaad with Pottery' by Trent Jansen, 'Matisse' chairs by Frag Woodall, brass 'Don' coffee table by Don Cameron and zig-zag LED 'Sen' light by Liam Mugavin, all 2016; In the music room, Tony Kenway's maple 'Signature' rocker (1988) and Lucy McRae's vegetable-dyed wood and metal 'Broached Colonial Prickly' lamp (2011) for Broached Commissions add a slightly surreal touch

Lovers of wallpapers and fabrics should head upstairs, where prints and textiles draped on tables and tacked to walls include work by Anna Spiro (behind the interiors of Australia's Halcyon House hotel), Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, flora and fauna-inspired Cloth (aka Julie Paterson), photographer Martyn Thompson, painterly Shilo Engelbrecht, and nature-influenced Utopia Goods. There's a compact design store and alfresco cafe for shopping and sipping afterwards. The Fizz heard a rumour that the upstairs lounge is haunted, but there's not a ghost of a chance that would put us off this thought-provoking show!
'At Home: Modern Australian Design' is at Old Government House, Parramatta Park, Parramatta, western Sydney, until 22 January 2017. Open Tue-Sun, 10am-4pm (last admission 3.30pm); AU$18.50 for adult tickets, online or on the door.

Pictures: Michael Wee

Northern Design Festival 2016

Hooked on design festivals? Us too. Head to the North East of England for a series of exhibitions that brings together top northern talent to explore the creative ideas behind the things that surround us everyday...


Hot on the heels of London Design Festival (Recovered? Yes? Good!), October sees the opening of the Northern Design Festival, a showcase of the best in contemporary design by leading northern, national and international designers across the creative spectrum. Hosted in Newcastle, the event runs until 16 October, so you have six days left to get your Geordie Shore on. 

Curated by Design Event and supported by the Northern Design Centre, this year’s festival line-up has eight exhibitions featuring work by more than 65 designers and architects, along with a programme of special events, tours and talks from some of the world’s leading creatives. On the festival’s focus – ‘Where Do Ideas Come From?’ – show director Karen Nairstone explains: ‘It’s a theme that relates to us all, whether you work or study in the industry or just love good design, there’s something for everyone. Once again we have some stunning hidden-gem venues in Newcastle city centre, including our Festival hub – The Assembly House and Cooper’s Studios – perfect backdrops against which to showcase the best in contemporary design.’ One of the highlights of this year's show is 2015 Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble's take over of the historic Assembly House (a wonderfully crumbly neo-classical Georgian stunner) with a site-specific installation that shows off products by Granby Workshop – a social enterprise set up by Assemble that makes experimental products for homes.

ABOVE: Art director Vaughan Oliver's abstract cover for the new Pixies' album 'Head Carrier'
ABOVE RIGHT: Assemble's iconic 'Granby Rock Mantlepiece' made of recycled construction waste
BELOW: Arjan Van Dal's chalky ceramics are on show at Hothouse

ABOVE: Mark McCormick's cool copper 'Port Round' mirror for Novocastrian is our designer crush in the Design Event MART; We love this colourful prototype snowball machine by Chrissie Macdonald for Block magazine, part of the 'Where Do Ideas Come From?' show

Experience 'Hothouse', a selection of craft-focused work by the hottest designer-makers across the UK, snoop at Newcastle-based industrial designer David Irwin’s seating retrospective, including his iconic 'Tyneside Lounger' for Deadgood and his 'Hardy Chair' for Another Country. Fans of graphic art can fill their boots at 'Where Do Ideas Come From?' featuring work by renowned illustrators, image makers, graphic designers and typographers including Vaughan Oliver, Noma Bar and Alan Kitching, or 'Hollywood Hates Me', an exhibition of rejected poster artwork from some of the world’s favourite movies by Newcastle-based creative agency Keltie Cochrane.

‘The festival is now in its 11th year and is a real focus for the design industry across the North,’ says Nairstone. ‘It provides an important platform to showcase some of the best design studios based here in the North and it certainly enhances the economy through the conversations, collaborations and new projects that are developed during the festival week. By showcasing some of the best national and international talent we want to inspire graduates and emerging studios, to encourage them to stay in the region. We need to work harder to keep our brilliant graduates here in the North, and it has been great to see Build relocate their studio from London back to Leeds. Now, more than ever, we need to use our creativity and innovation to improve the economy and showcase our strengths. Being shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North shows that our creativity isn’t going unnoticed, and we have our fingers crossed for the results.’

These are all enticing reasons to make the trip up the M1. ‘Feedback has been that by being on a smaller scale than shows like the London Design Festival we have a special, almost boutique feel, so it’s easier to have inspiring conversations – and to get round all the events,’ Nairstone continues. ‘I think the theme also makes it distinct and draws connections between the individual events across the festival. There’s a really high quality across all the events and an equal amount of graphics, architecture and product design in some truly stunning hidden-gem venues.’

ABOVE FROM TOP: Rejected Hollywood poster artwork by Keltie Cochrane; David Irwin's 'Tyneside Lounger' for Deadgood; Mesmeric 'Marble Candy' pendant lighting by Janey Speers at Design Event MART

The festival has also shifted from being an insiders' design industry scene to a consumer-friendly event with items on sale as well as on show. Definitely worth a visit is the popular Design Event MART and pop-up Design Event Store at The Assembly House. Here, furniture, ceramics, textiles and lighting are all yours for the taking, so you can bring home a souvenir from your trip. Sounds like a win win situation to us...

The 2016 Northern Design Festival is on now until 16 October at venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. Tickets are £2.50 for exhibition entry, or free for under 18s and staff places for school and college group visits.