Tag: Timber Expo 2012

I’ve just returned, fully inspired and brimming with ideas, from the London Design Festival 2012 and the U.K. Timber Frame Associations’ Timber Expo

Chris Sanderson of The Future Laboratory, in a talk presented at 100% Design, said “the future is allways here already, it’s just unevenly distributed” – and I got a good glimpse of this in the U.K.

Trends to watch out for are:


A word coined by the Future Laboratory, describes the fusion of business and leisure, and how this trend will impact considerations in the design of both business and residential spaces in the future. Chris Sanderson discussed ideas such as how work life will change as technology disrupts a myriad of industries and some offices will become relics of the pre-internet age as more people work from home. Think offices at home, as well as mini production facilities with the advancement of desktop laser cutters and 3d printers. Conversely, the ‘allways on-line’ phenomena will lead to people in an office environment wanting an ‘off-space’ where they can relax.


Lighting is being reinvented by the change to LED lighting. Current regulations in the UK allow 25% of a buildings light fittings to be incandescant or halogen, with the requirement that 75% be low energy lighting. Similarly in South Africa, our new SANS 204 regulations specify a maximum allowable energy demand and energy consumption for lighting, varying for different types of occupancy. LED’s, with their numerous small bright pinpricks of light, are not pretty – and the resultant trend for lighting is a swift move towards seeing less of the light fitting and more of the just the emitted light. I visited the John Cullen showroom, where it was demonstrated how walls and ceilings being are being washed with light by recessed LED strips, or even floors by LED strips built in above the kick plates of floor cabinets. Where task lighting is required it is being done purposefully, for instance by minimal use of directional recessed downlighters positioned above cupboards, artwork, basins and worktops. Pendant lights are there to make a statement, and an ever growing vast array of designer pendants are available. As illumination choices become more complex, particularly in retail and hospitality, it’s soon going to be the norm to use the services of a specialist lighting designer. In residential design the days of designing a house first and then simply adding lights to the plan are soon to be over, as the lighting becomes ever more integrated into the structural fabric of the house.


Options of textured wall surfaces were in abundance. Some of these are CNC routed from MDF, others moulded gypsum board. These, tie in beautifully, of course, with the new trend of washing walls with light.

I have for long been a fan of transformable furniture, and was wowed by a demonstration of the Yo! Home at 100% Design, by Simon Woodroffe, the founder of the Yo! Home – who has taken the idea of transformable furniture, and indeed the transformation of an entire internal space, to a whole new level.

Digital Design and Fabrication

Timber and timber products seem to be the materials of choice for converting beautiful curved forms into reality – owing no doubt to the seemingly limitless ways that timber products can be bent, laminated and cut into any shape imaginable. I attended a talk at the UKTFA Timber Expo presented by Arup on the ‘Timber Wave’ installation done for the 2011 London Design Festival, which was an intricately curved timber structure built for the entrance to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Another presentation at the Timber Expo that impressed was by the Ramboll Computational Design Team, based in London, on the modeling techniques that were used to design and fabricate their timber sculpture at the TRADA pavilion at the Expo. They work on computational models that, based on natural principles of efficiency, align materials to stress trajectories, doing so minimizing the amount, or thickness, of material required to create a span or carry load. This type of work is bound to open the doors to a whole new way of thinking with regards the efficient use of materials.

The Maker Revolution

If you thought the current trend towards laser and cnc cut products is a passing fad, think again. In fact, on the smaller home based scale, add 3d printing to this stable and you have the start of what may soon be known as the Maker Revolution. As it becomes easier to convert a design to an actual product, even for a ‘one-off’, we will see an ever-increasing diversity in the availability of new and innovative products. This will be aided of course, by the continuing rapid growth of social media, where any individual can quickly and easily get their product ‘out there’ for the world to see.

Storage becomes beautiful

Along with smaller homes and less space, and the growing desire for a less cluttered life, comes elegant storage solutions. Amidst the hustle and bustle and bright colours of the branding, glamorous stores and showrooms, my highlight of the high street was undoubtedly Muji.

Muji products are produced with an aim to return to simplicity in life. The products, ranging from shelving, storage containers, office supplies and even clothing, are all beautiful in their simplicity. And in a breath of fresh air, in contrast to the usual heavily branded, expensive and overly packaged goods, none even carry a brand name.