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London Design Festival postscript - part III

This is the final post in a week of looking back at some of the stand-out moments of the London Design Festival, 2011 (stand-out for me, at least – and I hope, of course, that you like them too). Right then, feast your eyes on this lovely, and – today – slightly random collection of gorgeousness...

1. Tiny universes 
At Origin, the east London craft fair, I was struck by the quirkyness of Lisa Swerling's unusual artworks. Her "Glass Cathedrals" (top two images in main collage, and inset, left "How Much is That Doggy") are, in short, glass-fronted boxes containing miniature figures – up to all sorts of crazy stuff. Here, in "Faith in Superglue" (top), we have a chap marvelling at the suspension of gravity underneath a double decker bus, while (below) in "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness", a woman furiously scrubs a vast checked floor. 

I like Swerling's own explanation of her work: "There’s something about the scale of these mini universes that makes their pursuits by turns heroic, tragic, humorous, wistful," she writes on her website. "The ideas behind the Glass Cathedrals are based on the sorts of thoughts I’ve been having since I was six: Why do I have to tidy my room? Help, I’m going to die one day. I don’t want to jump in the pool, but I will anyway. Yay, glitter! etc. Like a lot of people, I have these moments of inspiration about what it is to be a funny little human traveling around this big planet. What to do with these thoughts? I started putting mine in boxes…" 

Prices for these brilliantly weird and thought-provoking miniature universes are not – pardon the pun – small, but you're investing in a unique piece of art: small boxes start at £330.

2. Vibrant African fabrics 
I live in Brixton, south London, a very African/Caribbean neighbourhood, and so am lucky enough to have several stalls and shops in and around the market selling piles and piles of eye-poppingly bright, joyfully graphic African fabric – like those pictured at the bottom, above, by La Petite Congolaise, which was part of the African & African-Caribbean Design Diaspora event. I could stand in those shops for hours and have stacks of fabric I've bought on a whim because I couldn't resist it, waiting to be turned into cushions or curtains (though one piece, a gorgeous Yves Klein blue backing with a repeated bird graphic in black, was kindly transformed into bench cushions for my kitchen by my clever friend, Camilla).

The great thing about La Petite Congolaise, aka Laurence Kanza – British-born, but of Congolese descent, hence the name – is not only that she sells cushions already made up, but also that her website is bursting with advice for colour and pattern novices, on how to mix or match her fabrics. Cushions (with brilliant names such as "Margot", pink inset picture, "Jeanne" or "Fernande") start at £55.

3. Colourful cupboards 
I don't know much about Bristol-based cabinet maker Charlie Crowther, whose beautifully-hued, simply designed furniture (like "Green Storage", left) was part of 100% Design, but you can find out more on his website

The Fifties gelato coloured cupboard, above, in main collage, is called "Two Halves Cabinet" and was designed in partnership with Christian Taylor, usually found designing cool t-shirts under the banner of Uno One Print & Design.

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