Designer’s Will | A Design Experience

100% Design is the showpiece event of the London Design Festival, and this year it’s all change with new owners and a new man at the helm – William Knight, former deputy director of the London Design Festival. Katy Salter spoke to him about what design fans can expect at this year’s show

What can visitors expect from 100% Design this year?
For me, the show has to be a design experience, not just an exhibition that has quality design in it. So it’s going to be a hugely different experience for visitors – in the last few years there’s been a decline in numbers and also the experience of going to the show. The new sections we’ve developed this year are seriously dramatic. Your first experience of going in through the tunnel entrance will be really impactful, and then from there you’ve got the different industry sections and hubs.

What are the different zones at the show?
There’s four key sections of the show – Interiors, Office, Kitchens and Bathrooms, and a section called Eco Design and Build which is about technology, materials and they way in which they can be preserved and developed.

We also have a section called Emerging Brands. It taps into a long-held tradition at 100% Design of showcasing new talent. And we have the International Pavilions. 100% Design and London are international design centres, and it’s important to us to give a platform where international design talent can come to life as well. We’ve got 11 pavilions, including two Chinese regions – Shenzhen and Guangdong. We’ve also got South Korea, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and France, two regions from Italy, Chile and Argentina.

It’s your first year in charge of 100% Design – what are you most proud of?
This sounds trite but what I will be most proud of is the proof of the pudding. I’m really excited about the visitor experience.

What shouldn’t people miss?
I’m excited about YO! Home – an automated space that demonstrates how you can change the components of a room to turn them into a series of different interiors. The bed is mechanised to disappear up into the ceiling. There’s a sunken space where you can relax, a screen which transforms the space into a big viewing area. Or you can turn it into a study, or focus on entertaining.

Are there any upcoming designers punters should keep an eye out for?
There are some really great people in the Emerging Brands area. ISOMI is there, which I think is a very exciting product – very special desks. There’s Kirath Ghundoo, who is bringing her graphically-driven wallpapers to the show. We also ran a competition to give a space to a new designer. We chose a furniture maker fresh out of college, Hugh Leader- Williams. We’re also looking to work with people who had success at Clerkenwell Design Week, people like Dare Studios who are establishing their place in the market.

How important is 100% Design to the London Design Festival?
London, as a cultural design city, is now incredibly strong, and there are events taking place across the city. But what we need, especially in economic times like these, is a professional show which drives business and to my mind that’s the role that 100% Design has to play during the festival, to kind of anchor events.

Do you think Clerkenwell is London’s premier design district?
It can stake a claim. Clerkenwell has huge strengths that no other part of London and perhaps the world has, particularly in the contract furniture and architecture worlds. There are other bits of London which can stake a significant claim, too. But Clerkenwell has effervescence about it. It has a year-round contribution as the creative centre of London.

Are there Clerkenwell-based designers and showrooms involved in the show?
Yes. It’s well-represented, both in terms of those people who are based in Clerkenwell and also people who have come to Clerkenwell Design Week to show their work as well. We’re drawing talent from across the UK and around the world as well, but there’s certainly a very strong link back to Clerkenwell.

100% Design, 19-22 September, Earls Court London;