Indoor/Outdoor Design Inspirations From London Design Festival: Part One

September 30, 2012 by

Colorful Moooi installation at The Dock. Indoor-outdoor Gothic Chair in foreground. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.

They’re definitely thinking “outside” in Europe. I’ve just returned stateside after a three week whirlwind in Paris and London soaking up design fairs and festivals, gardens, and other sources of inspiration from the city streets–the first week in Paris for Maison et Objet and Paris Design Week, and the last five days in London with Modenus for BlogTour London during The London Design Festival.

I’m on left, with BlogTour team partners, Lynn Byrne and Jill Seidner at The Dock. Photo: Veronika Miller, Modenus.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the London Design Festival, a ten day city-wide design event encompassing nearly 300 venues across the city (no, I am not kidding) and around 26 design disciplines. Though the Festival is a major global design event, for me it was all really about London itself even beyond the design shows–about the architecture, abundant gardens, stylish shops, and let’s not forget the people and these days, even the food!

Garden Kits in a Spitalfield’s Market shop window. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.

Having arrived a few days before to meet up with friends I had not yet met in person, only through the blog (another story to be told later), I got a chance to roam the streets in search of cool stuff. I’m on design overload at the moment, but want to share some of my favorite encounters on and off the streets of London.

Tom Dixon at Portobello Dock
The Dock is highly energized canal-side design destination spearheaded by designer Tom Dixon for the Festival in the Victorian, industrial estate of Portobello Dock. This year, the Parisian home concept store Merci launched a pop-up store and Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc and Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek contributed to the Dixon shop. I visited the new Moooi (photo top of page) installation ‘The Unexpected Welcome’ where I interviewed the enigmatic design icon, Marcel Wanders (you will need to return for this story!)

Bursting at the seams with design activity, the venue included The Back Room, a project focusing on the emerging social trend of small collective artisans producing, distributing, and selling their wares directly within the urban environment. The Dock was a Festival location at the intersection of art, design, food, sound and more–an exciting fusion of indoor/outdoor design at its best.

Looking outside through window of Tom Dixon’s pop-up shop. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens

One of my favorite’s at Dixon’s pop-up shop was his Fresh Fat chair, above, part of a collection made from a resilient and durable extruded PETG plastic formed by hand into a repeated link pattern.

Innocent’s grass-covered Smoothie truck. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens

Parisian “concept” store, Merci crossed the Channel for its pop-up shop at The Dock. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.

Carved chocolate ” stone” at Chocolate Metropolis by Tom Dixon and Rococo. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton

Technology Will Save Us, describing themselves as “a haberdashery for technology and education dedicated to helping people to produce and not just consume technology,” set up a temporary studio and instant flash market on the terrace. The group experiments creatively with technology, whether it be learning how to sew, garden, build furniture or bake bread – they hope to inspire the desire to produce, invent, make and fix things. Their DIY Thirsty Plant Kit, below, includes a simple circuit and all of the components and materials you need to make your own solar powered Thirsty Plant detector, a sensor that detects when plants need water.

Looking out on the water and the Dock terrace, Dixon’s own shop contained an eclectic collection of  furniture, housewares, and lighting–a great beginning to launch me forward for a week of in depth design exploration.

Next Up
More fabulous finds from London and The London Design Festival, including visits to 100% Design, Tent London, Super Brands, Design Junction, Shoreditch Design Triangle; The Columbia Road Flower Market; outside London to Marlow in Buckinghamshire;  my interview with Marcel Wanders about the fusion between indoors and outdoors; a visit to the studio of Geoffrey Fisher, whose bespoke garden products I have featured previously, reports form Paris and Paris Design Week…lots more to share!

This is Part One of several upcoming posts about my visit to London with Modenus BlogTour for the London Design Festival. The  five-day trip was made possible by the following sponsors, who not only funded the visit, but also provided us with in-depth insight into the Festival and behind the scenes activities that enriched the experience and provided me with a huge amount of inspiration. Many thanks to:  Citizen M hotelBlanco, DuVerre HardwareMr. Steam, And So To BedVictoria & Albert BathsLapicida,  Amtico, Samuel Heath, The Architectural Digest Home Design Show, and Maggie’s Cancer CentresLearn more about BlogTour.

Read our Sponsorship Disclosure Policy.



  1. quintessence said:

    Wonderful!! I knew you would love this trip – look forward to more of your insights from your (extended) trip!! Love the Fresh Fat Chair!

    — September 30, 2012 @ 13:25

  2. Sharon Wong said:

    LOVE THE RED FIAT 500 MEGA-LY!!!! (. . . sorry, out of topic I know . . .)


    — October 1, 2012 @ 07:31

  3. Lynn Hoffman said:

    Thank you, that was delightful. Nice images. Looking forward to your next post.

    — October 1, 2012 @ 09:02

  4. Catherine W said:

    It sounds amazing. I’m looking forward to the next post.

    — October 2, 2012 @ 00:59

  5. Jill Brandenburg said:

    Great post – I love how you have captured the unexpected in your photos – looking through the window at Tom Dixon, that smoothie truck, plant your own herb garden box (great packaging). Wish I had of made it to The Dock myself.

    — October 5, 2012 @ 20:12

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