Materiality and Sustainability at London Design Festival 2023 - Camron
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A week-long celebration of all things design.

The 21st edition of London Design Festival, 16-24 September, kick-started the design world back into action post-summer, with a week-long celebration of all things design.

Built upon the city’s renowned dynamism across the thirteen unique districts, including recent additions Battersea and ‘Dalston to Stokey’, over 200 internationally recognised brands – from design stalwarts B&B Italia and Tom Dixon, to playful brands like LEGO and GANNI – showed up in the capital, alongside smaller studios and emerging designers to present a vibrant celebration of creativity. Notable themes connected the diverse array of presentations, the majority of which were underpinned by a central buzzword: sustainability.


The Material Matters fair stands out as the central hub for this conversation – it’s in the name after all. Returning to LDF this year after a successful debut in 2022, the fair situated itself within Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, presenting 40 brands across five floors. Whilst one visit was not enough to absorb all the displays in a meaningful way, three presentations stood out to the Camron team:

(1) The Tyre Collective, a clean-tech start-up, presented the first on-vehicle device to capture tyre wear at the source. Tyre wear is the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans, and a major air particle matter pollutant (who knew!). This new design uses electrostatics and airflow to capture the tyre particles; once captured the particles can be upcycled to create a closed-loop system.

(2) The Wicker Story captured the hearts of most LDF reviews. The presentation was a direct response to questions around the future of design in India. The work on show involved the translation of complex digital designs into traditional Indian craft, using a zero waste methodology and celebrating the culture, traditions, and values in India.

(3) Gareth Neal, an East London design and craft studio, considers craft as a tool with a larger impact beyond the object created, namely affecting: People, Process, and Place. At the fair, Gareth Neal presented ODC 3D in collaboration with The New Raw, a series of furniture pieces created with boundary-pushing 3D printing, using new material textures that are faster, and more cost effective.

The main takeaway from the show lay in the vast research and resources going into developing innovative and sustainable techniques to transform waste into materials that can be used in everyday design.


GANNI used the Material Matters platform to unveil its staple ‘Bou Bag’, now reimagined in a new bacterial nanocellulose material. The material used is created by biotechnology company Modern Synthesis (founded by former Adidas designer Jen Keane, and synthetic biologist Dr. Ben Reeve), and is produced by a certain bacteria which grows over a framework of threads. The result is a textile that replicates the feeling of cowhide, but creates up to 65 times less greenhouse gas emissions (as claimed by Modern Synthesis).

Whilst it was unsurprising to see the B-Corp fashion brand collaborate with a research-based company dedicated to sustainability, it was refreshing that GANNI chose to reveal the news on the design stage and via the Material Matters platform, instead of a more conventional Fashion Week timing.

Elsewhere, Natsai Audrey Chieza and Christina Agapakis launched what they describe as “the first biodesign lifestyle brand”, Normal Phenomena of Life (NPOL). The online brand and platform will sell clothing created with materials fabricated by biological agents, including bacteria, algae, yeast, and fungi.

Design and fashion production continue to collide (think Loewe at Milan Design Week 2023, Bottega Veneta at Design Miami/ 2022, to name a few), and LDF is another example of noteworthy fashion brands choosing this design stage to show off their sustainable innovations.


Experiencing such a breadth of like-minded designers at Material Matters all dedicated to sustainable developments in design acted as a reminder of the power behind community in instigating positive change. This was also felt in the new Dalston to Stokey district, where Camron client Atelier100 presented a democratic display of products created by 22 emerging London creatives across fashion and interiors.

The incubator programme supports emerging designers through funding the production of their products, alongside practical workshops and mentoring on topics from production to marketing and accounting. The variety of products on show, and available for purchase, continued to champion sustainable practices through a focus on materiality and innovative technologies. Highlights included designer Rosie Stontham’s Membrane Vase (hand-blown glass into moulds made of scrunched up newspaper) and Ex-A Studio’s Garnet Ring (a combination of 3D printing and traditional silversmithing to transform ethically sourced stones and recycled sterling silver into contemporary statement jewellery).

Over in the ever-buzzing Brompton Design District, luxury lighting company Occhio created an interactive and immersive experience within the newly opened London flagship showroom. Specialising in merging technical innovation with sleek, modern and sophisticated design, Occhio – represented by Camron – invited visitors to a hands-on experience of their new project, Luna – a new series of floating, celestial-inspired glass designs controlled by contact-free hand gestures.

Defining voice in modern luxury interiors, Camron client HOLLY HUNT celebrated its 40 year legacy of innovation and craftsmanship with the debut of its new collection HH40. On show in the brands Mayfair showroom, HH40 spans artfully crafted furniture and lighting; the new range was debuted alongside an exclusive wallpaper collection created in collaboration with design studio ASSEMBLAGE.

Shoreditch Design District saw Centre 151 – an independent charity and cultural centre supporting the Vietnamese, Laos, and Cambodian communities in London – display an immersive exhibition in collaboration between Wax Atelier, the Blue H’mong craftswomen of Pa Co village (Mai Chau), and Kilomet 109. The exhibition explored community, design, and sustainability through the lens of the Mother Goddess – an ancient Vietnamese tradition of worship of female deities seen as protectors of nature. Collaborative artworks were displayed across three spaces, united by one central material: rope. The visual journey placed a spotlight on the significance of rope as a medium and metaphor to demonstrate the significance of cross-cultural ideas and skills, and the interconnection between the natural world and material culture.

Simone Brewster’s Spirit of Place featured five large-scale cork sculptures to evoke a cork forest along The Strand. Created in collaboration with Amorim, the installation draws attention to Amorim’s work encouraging the growth of trees resilient to drought, from which cork may be harvested through waste-free and restorative means. Meanwhile, regenerative design brand Osmose Studio hosted a pop-up exhibition: Mycelium Unearthed, to demonstrate the powerful role of mycelium as a sustainable design material through talks and workshops.


As this year’s edition of LDF came to a close, feelings of hope endure for the next generation of designers empowered to innovate in material developments and production practices that can not only change how we approach mass production, but also how we interact with design. The impetus behind developing sustainable materials was not only a notion felt strongly by the design community, but also by the fashion industry, too. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next year, and what the cohort of LDF ‘24 will have to say on the topic.

The Power of Design™ is Camron’s own platform that celebrates the forces, people and brands that create impact using design in innovative ways to shape life today and tomorrow.

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