20 September 2013

London Design Festival: DesignJunction

I heard about DesignJunction through Quill, my current favourite purveyor of gorgeous stationery, a few weeks ago, and signed up for a free ticket. It's an annual event that is part of the London Design Festival, occupying a huge space in The Sorting Office on New Oxford Street. I'm always up for a bit of shopping for homewares, combined with gawping at amazing designs and eating/drinking experiences, so I rounded up the girls for a stylish evening out.

After walking through some of the eateries on the ground floor, we reached the SodaStream bar. Yes, that SodaStream, but with a much nicer design than the machines that, in the '90s, encouraged us to "get busy with the fizzy." They were doing free cocktails all evening, so we tried a few. My favourite involved gin, raspberry and mint. The water did hold its fizz well, and the design of the piece has come a long way.

On the ground floor, there were numerous pop-up shops, including Quill, Falcon and a 3D printing company that was selling very cool cups and bowls in quirky shapes, and even a 3D-printed pineapple, the texture of which was impressive. Also Not Another Bill, a subscription service I'd heard of previously that will send you or a friend/family member/lover a small but quirky item in the post each month.

I'm always a sucker for interactive exhibits, and Hyundai Card, a Korean credit card company, were giving out free (fake, I assume) "credit cards" complete with RFID chips, which you could wave in front of little machines to print out a "receipt" with more information about the design of the card. They had some really pretty coloured cards on display, but mine was just white.

Upstairs, we found the LightJunction event, which, unsurprisingly, had a special focus on beautiful and useful lighting. I liked the huge remote-controlled Anglepoise lamps, but there were lots of other lovely designs.

Oh, and some fabulous kitchen tables, sofas and seats. Particularly cool were the canvas seats, where you could sit on a piece of stretchy canvas, printed with an armchair design. They were surprisingly comfy too!

I had been looking forward to the London Underground-themed bar, but although it looked awesome, they were only serving beer (from Camden Town Brewery), so I had to pass.

Instead, we went to the Modus–Barbecoa by Jamie Oliver collaboration and ate pulled pork sandwiches, seated at beautiful, wooden tables. The sandwich was quite nice, although The Ribman doesn't have anything to worry about.

Back on the ground floor after all that "window shopping" and wishful thinking, I ran out of time to do any actual shopping, which means I will probably have to stop by again at the weekend. We just had time to grab one last cocktail, before paying a visit to the most stylish short-term loos you've ever seen (such great light inside the stalls too) on the way out. All in all, it was a fun evening, especially given that I only spent £5 on the pulled pork sandwich. Serious restraint was exercised.

DesignJunction is on until 22 September. The free preregistration period has closed, but you can get a free ticket on the door if you have a VISA card.

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