Shoreditch Design Triangle was established in 2008 to celebrate the creative industries in East London, and is hosted by the companies who live and work there. “Blending together product launches, exhibitions, installations, workshops, talks, tours, and culinary delights – the event gives visitors the opportunity to spend the day wandering around the East End on foot and still not see everything there is to see,” say the organizers. I did my best…!

Dan Tobin Smith’s Letter C – Collapse (above) is a new piece as part of his ongoing Alphabetical Series. “Inspired by the Bell inequality test, Dirac’s three polarizers experiment with the hidden nature of materials and perception, the sculpture exploits the strange phenomenon of polarization and material,” he says. “The typographical form, concealed in plain sight, is then revealed by the materials’ previously unseen characteristics.”

A brick wall displays two highly stylized black and white photographs or renders of playground equipment casting long shadows.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Inside, a series of tiny models of playgrounds by Tobin’s Optical Arts Studio cast dynamic shadows as they spun alongside films and stills that found typographic forms within the playground structures.

Lee Broom, a white man in his 40s, stands side-on in front of a wall light – he is captured mid-word.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Just down the road Lee Broom, who opened his Shoreditch showroom in 2010, has recently expanded by taking on the space next door. Design Milk has been following his career since day one, so it was wonderful to see this new expansion and to see so many of the pieces launched in Milan ’22.

New for LDF23, was the Chant Chandelier (above) inspired by the glass bricks often used in places of worship built in the 1970s in place of stained glass. Lee also said he designed the light to be looked at from underneath and wanted to evoke the feeling of looking up from a basement through a lightwell in the floor above.

A white hand with mint-green painted nails holds a blue lamp with a conical bulb.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

B Corp-certified lighting brand Tala launched the Mantle Portable Lamp (shown above in cobalt blue), which comes apart so the bulb, battery, and interior circuitry can all be replaced. I love the use of portable lights for, not only outdoor spaces, but also indoor nooks where a trailing cable would be problematic.

A white finger draws aside a red string curtain on the front of a wooden box to reveal a doorknob.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Shoreditch stalwart SCP worked with Carl Clerkin and friends to bring some much-need levity to proceedings with its tongue-in-cheek Federation of Furniture Fanciers SCPeep Show hosted by the Closed Curtain Club which riffed on Victorian sensibilities around the female form, but applied to furniture and accessories. The Doorknob Feeler Theatre (above) invited visitors to “have a good feel” of this cast aluminum Jasper Morrison FSB Doorknob. 

A white man in a black shirt stands in front of a red wall with an upturned bucket on his head. The bucket has a series of perforations that mimic the holes in a confessional booth.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

The Confession Bucket by Poppy Booth is made of galvanized steel with confession grill holes and invited visitors to “pull bucket over head and confess, release slowly after use.” Its gentle and silly humor was so very welcome as LDF returns to form after some very serious world events.

A table is made from three solid slabs of glass, two on end as legs and one laid across them as a top. Dappled light is cast through the table onto a white plinth beneath.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

On a more sensible note, SCP was also presenting a new collection of WonderGlass pieces by British architect and designer John Pawson including Berg, a glass coffee table that creates mesmerizing shadows underneath.

Two chairs and a set of steps are made from flat pieces of brightly colored plywood.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Carl Clerkin was also presenting Sons of Beasley with designer and colleague Alex Hellum. Alongside a new collection of chairs, there was a fully equipped live workshop where Carl, Alex, and friends were be making things by hand from offcuts, components, and materials donated by local cabinet maker Plykea – makers of door fronts and worktops for IKEA kitchens.

A stack of different materials all cut to the same square shape sit onto of of white plinth.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Upstairs SCP was showcasing its new foam-free method of upholstering furniture that comprises all natural materials including burlap, latex, and coconut fibers, recycled wool, latex, needled wool, multi-density wool, feathers, solid beech, birch and poplar plywood, webbing, and metal springs – upholstery foam is horrible for both the environment and the people who make, work with and use it, so this is a really important development.

A showroom includes a yellow sofa and armchair, red patterned rug, a plant in the foreground, a coffee table and pendant light. Windows in the background look out on a building beyond.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

This approach is now used across all of SCP’s sofas – including the low-lying Peonia by Wilkinson & Riveria, which they describe as a “family and friends sized sitting space.”

A series of sofa modules in olive green combine to create a semicircular enclosed seating put. A red rug is beneath and some people can be seen in the background.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Element by Philippe Malouin is a modular “sofa system” that can be arranged perfectly traditionally, or into this playful “enclosed conversation pit” for the “ultimate comfort, conversation, and conviviality.”

A meeting room with table and chairs can be seen through two green-framed reeded glass doors. The back wall is covered with a corrugated acoustic panel.

If SCP is a Shoreditch Design Triangle stalwart, The Collective is the new kid in town. Designed by Studio Cass, its new Charlotte Road home is housed in a former button factory, and instead of looking like a showroom comprising a series of spaces – a kitchen, a bar, meeting rooms – that enable it to showcase the products, expertise, and quality behind The Collective and its associated brands.

A patterned armchair is positioned in front of a curtain and next to a side table with a small lamp and a wine glass on it.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

One of those brands is EchoPanel® – acoustic panels made from PET offcuts – and even as the drinks started flowing and the evening’s party moved into full swing, the quality of sound in the space was palpable.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years’ experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.

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