We recently took a day out of our busy work schedules to get inspired and take a look around the first day of 100% Design in London. We selected a number of talks, but also left plenty of time to look at the companies exhibiting their latest innovations.

Here are a few highlights of what we saw:

1: Beyond Sustainability: Future of waste in design

It was very obvious as soon as the talk started that the four designers leading the talk were passionate about protecting the environment through sustainable design. Their own work ranged from using coffee grounds to make usable products instead of sending the grounds to landfill where it will make the area acidic to using waste from the meat industry to produce products.  This ranged from chairs to toothbrushes and have great potential as currently, 60% of an animal will end up as waste.

The talk heavily focused on how sustainability should not just be about making sure new products are sustainable. It also focused on how we should try to recycle and upcycle what we currently use as there is a shortage of raw materials and the impact of sourcing these materials can have on our planet. An interesting point for us that came out of the talk is how trends within fashion and technology should be dropped to help make sure that what we produce has the longest possible lifespan. By dropping trends it will help stop the flow of products that are still usable being discarded just because they are no longer fashionable. 

Another lasting point that has stuck with us is how we perceive waste. The talk really highlighted the old saying ‘one man's rubbish is another man's treasure’ and how companies that produce lots of waste should be looking at how it can be used or who can use it to avoid waste ending up in landfill.

It was fantastic to see so many people turn up for the talk showing that sustainability is being taken seriously.

2: Material Studio

An interesting area of the exhibit hall was the Material Studio. A collection of materials and products that were made in unconventional ways, including the work of Clemence Grouin-Rigaux who spoke at the Beyond Sustainability talk. It was enlightening to see how products can be made from nearly anything. While the materials here are not fully relevant to our work it challenged us to look at the materials that we do use and think whether there are more sustainable alternatives.

3: Design as a living experience

The second talk we went to was headed by Yorgo Lykouria the Creative Director of Rainlight. His talk focused around the human history of design and how it is the most basic need of humanity. He talked about the Lascaux cave paintings in France and how we are disconnected from art in the modern consumer world where art is valued by the swing of a gavel rather than the emotion it provokes.

Yorgo Lykouria talked about how the best design transcends time and how it does not align with trends of the time it was produced, how originally the Eiffel Tower originally lowered house prices in the surrounding area of Paris as it was not appreciated at the time of its construction. The talk was very philosophical and left us with lots to think about how our design impacts the user and what we can do better. 

4: Wall Printer UK

One of the most relevant stands to our work at 100% Design was Wall Printer UK. They do what their name suggests, they print directly onto a wall using their state of the art printer. At its most basic form, it is a UV printer turned on its side, but its alternative approach to design application is where it stands out.

When talking to the company owner, he made it clear they are not trying to replace any of the traditional design applications, like wallpaper or vinyl, as they still have their own advantages. What Wall Printer UK can provide is a product that is suitable for more niche uses. 

The big selling point that came out for us is their work in a hospital where they reduced the fire risk by 97% by removing traditional signage and printing the wayfinding to the wall. This has clear advantages over vinyl application as it cannot be peeled off and is also more hygienic.

As it is a fairly new technology it does have its limitations, a 120mm exclusion zone is needed so the printer cannot fill an entire wall edge to edge and it also can only at this stage print to a white wall as there is no white ink for the printer. However, as with any new technology development is underway with white inks due in the near future. This is a technique we look forward to seeing develop and become more widespread in the future.

5: The future of retail through experience: Play and lego

This was by far the most interesting talk we went to while at 100% Design and not just because we were given free Lego. It was lead by Paul Chatelier the Design Director at Fitch. The talk centred around how we interact with retail spaces but also how we can make them more fun and therefore memorable.

It was a bit surprising when Paul Chatelier started talking about central heating, however, it became clear why very quickly. He explained how we used to play in parlour rooms as they were the only rooms with heat meaning that play happened with the whole family, but with the spread of central heating, play became fractured as we could spend time in our bedrooms. This has affected how we interact with the world and therefore the retail environment.

We were shown through a number of impressive retail spaces that Fitch had worked on with a range of clients, but the case study he talked about was Lego. It was fascinating to hear Paul talk about how they had to develop Lego’s retail concept to encourage children and adults to play with their products together. This ranged from having Duplo bricks very low down so the youngest children can access them, to the ‘Pick A Brick’ wall which is loved by AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) because it allows them to pick the bricks the desire for there own builds. This was followed by a short demonstration on how to get 76% more bricks into the plastic tubs you fill up with bricks.

The talk ended with a question to the audience asking what our favourite childhood memory was. The majority of responses revolved around playing with friends and family, clearly showing that if retail experiences are more playful they will be more impactful to the shopper.

We had a great day at 100% Design, getting to see a broad range of products gathering inspiration for the year ahead. We definitely will go again next year!

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