There are two stories in this month’s news that illuminate the strange relationship we currently have with housing. One is about an artist who’s decided to live in a skip for a year to raise awareness of the terrible cost of living in London and the other is the story of a designer who created a fantasy flat in Stockholm that existed only on Instagram. For more stories that offer a new perspective on issues around design and architecture, subscribe to the monthly Design Review newsletter.
Collect, the international fair for contemporary craft and design, returns to London’s Somerset House this weekend. The fair welcomed over 9,000 visitors last year and, this year, 40 galleries will take part showing work by over 400 makers. While crafts on show include everything from jewellery to ceramics, textiles continue to be a strong growth area. Two exceptional textile artists are shortlisted for this year’s Brookfield Properties Craft Awards – Alice Kettle and Samuel Nnorom. There’ll also be lots of opportunities to see work by artists working in glass, another really strong growth sector in the craft industry. Look out for Swedish artist Fredrik Nielsen’s spectacular sculptures, Amber Cowan’s maximalist recycled glass dioramas and the work of Hyesook Choi, who recreates must-have accessories in glass. Another noticeable trend is the diversity of materials used by craftspeople. From the use of cutting-edge biomedical processes – seen in the work of American artist Klari Reis – to the use of hair, fish scales and feathers by artists such as Julien Vermeulen and Marian Bijlenga.
“For the past 19 years, Collect has been an authority for contemporary craft and design,” says Isobel Dennis, Collect fair director. “The range of galleries and artistic voices featured at this year’s fair will make the show richer in content and discovery than ever before.”
Collect Fair is at Somerset House from 3-5 March. All works can be viewed and online on Artsy.net from 1-12 March. Brookfield Properties Craft Award is announced on 1 March
Living in a skip sounds like a desperate measure even in the midst of London’s current housing crisis, but British artist Harrison Marshall has managed to create a compact and bijou home. His skip would put many flatshares to shame and he plans to live in it for a year. Part installation, part social comment, the Skip House is made from a standard skip waste container, just with an added insulated timber frame and barrel roof. This frame gave Marshall, who’s co-founder of Caukin Studio – a construction and architecture social enterprise – 25 sq ft of floor space. Plenty for a bed, kitchen hob and sink. A donated portaloo is located just outside.
The project is the latest from Skip Gallery, a public art initiative started by Catherine Borowski and Lee Baker, which works with emerging artists to put on shows in pop-up spaces (typically skips).
“The Skip House might seem out of the blue, but it is the natural progression and culmination of six years of art installations, exhibitions, fashion shows, theatre, gigs and funerals,” says Borowski. “When Harrison came to us with this magnificent idea we jumped at it.”
The Skip House is currently on land in Bermondsey, at the end of a row of terraced housing, a site provided by Antepavilion, an arts and architecture charity. Marshall hopes it will be moved to many locations in London over time.
“This is the amalgamation of years of bizarre ideas, and stems from when I was a kid dreaming about living in my own tiny house,” says Marshall of his new home. “Last year I moved back to London and was instantly hit by the high rent. I knew there had to be another option.”
Ever wondered what the world will be like when you’re old and grey? As the national strategic unit for design and the ageing economy, the Design Age Institute does little else. You can see how some of these ideas are being turned into new design initiatives if you head to London’s Design Museum this month where the exhibition, Designing for our Future Selves, is on show.
Lady Helen Hamlyn, patron of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, described the walking frame as “the most degrading object that we can give to anybody”. So she’s worked with Design Age Institute on the Hamlyn Walker Challenge to make these useful tools a bit cooler. Winning product designer Michael Strantz has come up with something that looks more like an electric scooter than medical equipment.
Tides, meanwhile, is a massage tool for menopausal women to aid relaxation and improve the pelvic floor muscles. Though if that doesn’t work out for you, Binding Sciences Limited has come up the Luii – a hand-held urinal to manage the incontinence that affects many in later life in a discreet way.
Other products, such as the Coaroon by Self-Made Studios, a temperature-regulating coat made of cashmere goat guard hair, and the Riser chair – created by Ali Jafari of Designed Healthcare Ltd – which helps you stand up, would be welcomed by any age, as well as the young at heart.
Colum Lowe, director of Design Age Institute, said: “The show allows us to explore how design innovation could improve our lives as we grow older. It will open this dialogue up to younger audiences who may not have questioned what it means to grow older in today’s society, the potential challenges that lie ahead and how we seek to solve them.”
Designing for our Future Selves is at the Design Museum until 26 March
Lifestyle brand Toast has promoted garment repair through customer workshops and free in-store repair services since 2018. So far, the repair department has darned, patched and stitched over 3,000 items. But now the team is turning its expert eye to damaged goods and customer returns to make a new, unique collection.
Toast Renewed is a line featuring visibly mended clothes and homeware from the Toast range: quilts with contrasting patches, jumpers with beautiful darning and trousers with one-of-a-kind embroidery to cover mistakes and marks. All are customised and repaired with techniques such as Japanese stitching technique sashiko, or using material offcuts to patch and elevate the items.
The range will not only showcase the skill and creativity of the repair specialists but also add to Toast’s focus on circularity by making sure that even garments that are seconds can be repaired to become long-lasting and cherished.
The TOAST Renewed collection is available online at www.toa.st/renewed
Swedish design student Christoffer Jansson scrolls through interiors on Instagram every day. “My feed is full of them. I enjoy looking because they allow me to experience an idea of a space without actually having to be in it.”
Turns out this was valuable research for his latest design project, Uncanny Spaces, which was on show at Stockholm Furniture Fair this month. The digital project played out on Instagram, where Jansson posted rendered images of a flat he told his followers that he’d bought as a renovation project on Stockholm’s Heleneborgsgatan.
The faux flat was based on a real property and his images recreated everything from the ripped wallpaper and wonky plug sockets he found when he viewed his target flat to the Ettore Sottsass Ultrafragola mirror he chose for his virtual home and the Lovo table which, online, he painted millennial pink. His aim was to look at the aesthetic impact of Instagram on interiors, and to show how what looks good in a square image, rather than what feels good in a physical space, is dominating interiors.
“I also wanted to highlight how rendered interiors are used frequently in social media, which is not always apparent to the viewer. By creating an entirely fake home I could explore how far it’s possible to distort reality.” With his Instagram followers helping pick out paint colours, turns out you can distort reality quite a lot.
Although Jansson created the apartment “to experiment with different design elements and interior architecture topics”, there’s no denying that his make-believe home looks pretty special. Statement about aesthetics and the power of images aside, would he like to live there? “ At the end of the day, I would not say no if given the chance to actually live there.”
Uncanny Spaces can be seen on Instagram at @helenborgsgatan46