DEBORAH SPENCER designjunction

Deborah Spencer, designjunction Event Director and reigning queen of the London design scene

Deborah Spencer, designjunction Event Director and reigning queen of the London design scene

Since their 2011 satellite show in Milan, designjunction has grown to be one of the most highly anticipated design shows on the calendar. DesignFizz jumps the queue to ask Deborah Spencer how she did it...


What inspired you to launch designjunction?
We were frustrated by trawling around soulless traditional exhibitions and saw a gap in the market. Central London was missing a commercial show with creative energy. The big international brands had been absent from the UK for years, and we wanted to provide a platform for a curated selection of design labels to showcase in a more expressive environment. 

Your CV's not too shabby – how did you get to this point?
I started working on the London Art Fair and New Designers exhibitions – which I’m still passionate about. I then launched the HOME department with Greenwich Village at Selfridges department store, establishing relationships with global brands such as Tom Dixon, Moooi and Edra. It was a great period in my life, working at the cutting-edge of design. It was through that connection that I went on to work for Tom Dixon. When I launched West London group show The Dock for Tom in 2009, I handpicked the brands and got them excited about taking part. I went on to organise London shows Superdesign and the Tramshed which were the start of something even bigger.

Designjunction's inaugural show in Milan 2011 featured British brands including Benchmark, Channels and Innermost

Designjunction's inaugural show in Milan 2011 featured British brands including Benchmark, Channels and Innermost

How do you make designjunction fresh and fun to visit?
By adding new features, such as flash factories, exciting eateries and fresh global brands, and tapping into trends. Another important aspect is collaborating with teams from the design scene. Our creative director, designer Michael Sodeau, refers to the show as a mini city within the Sorting Office. The ground floor is like Shoreditch or Camden with lots going on. The first floor is more refined like Covent Garden. The second floor has avenues and bigger stands, like Bond Street. Each area has a particular feel and energy. 

ABOVE: London calling:
2012 saw designjunction arrive at the Sorting Office in Bloomsbury

BELOW: It's showtime!
Last September's fun-filled line-up had the great and the good vying to get in 



What’s in store at EDIT by designjunction in Milan?
We are excited to have secured Palazzo Morando as our venue this April, a spectacular 18th-century costume museum in the fashion district. We have an international line-up of from British design brands Innermost and Modus to Parisian contemporary furniture label Adentro, Hong Kong-based EOQ and New Zealanders Resident. There’ll be lighting installations and commissions from Italian experts Baroncelli, and exquisite bone china tea sets from British ceramics brand Flux. Florence coffee connoisseurs La Marzocco will host a bespoke café in the courtyard and SodaStream and Yves Behar will curate the bar.

Which collections will wow us?
AfghanMade is presenting impressive rugs from designers including Christopher Farr, Matt Camron and Michaelian & Kohlberg. Sir Kenneth Grange has created a brand new sofa collection with Smith Matthias for Modus, which will be shown alongside a new chair by Michael Sodeau. Adentro’s launches star a new armchair by Carlo Contin and the ‘Cosimo' desk by Marco Zanuso Jr. Michael Young is presenting a fresh lighting collection for EOQ, as well as his 'Yi' chair. Resident is also debuting nine products at the show.

Which trends are exciting you in design, style or music?
The emergence of digital technology in design – augmented and virtual reality – which means customers can engage with products anywhere in the world. For instance, Dezeen is bringing its augmented reality watch store to our Milan show. Customers can try on virtual watches by wrapping a paper ‘marker’ around their wrist and looking at a screen. They’ll then see the watches modelled on their wrists in real time. Brands such as Alessi, Vitra and Serralunga have already experimented with the Sayduck app, a virtual showroom platform that brings products to life, allowing you to experience them in 3D with all the size, material and colour options so you can envisage them in your home.

Where's on your travel wish list?
On the work front, we're looking at New York, and emerging markets in Mumbai, Shenzhen and even Turkey. Personally, I'd love to go back to South Africa for its fascinating culture, wineries and wilderness.

If you hadn’t been involved in design, what might you have done?
At university I learnt how to DJ. I lived with a group of guys and we used to organise club nights in Manchester. At the time the club scene was thriving and there weren’t that many girl DJs around!