“It annoys me when people say that they want good product design, but also that it must sell,” laments Jonas Petterson, co-founder of Swedish industrial design studio Form Us With Love. “It is good design that sells the product!” Jonas was speaking during a session at this year’s iteration of Clerkenwell Design Week on ‘Why design is shaping the brands of tomorrow’, and this sentiment was echoed, unsurprisingly, throughout the makeshift showrooms and backstreet galleries of the dynamic 3-day event in the Islington borough of London.
Clekernwell Design Week is unlike the other trade shows that I have attended, which traditionally take place within an exhibition centre. Attracting an eclectic mix of international brands, local artisans and young designers exploring and discussing the latest trends shaping the design industry, it was nigh-on-impossible not to be inspired. There was passion, enthusiasm and innovation on every corner, and it quickly became abundantly clear that Jonas was right – design had to be at heart of any product, especially when marketing it.
Take London Graphic Systems’ 3D printed models of room layouts and intricate plumbing systems, enabling visitors to hold the future of CAD drawings in their hands (literally). Considering these models can be produced overnight at costs between £200-400 as part of multi-million pound project, you can see why companies are increasingly investing in such technology. The power and effect of these designs on a potential investor was tangible throughout the audience, and this is a fine example of design playing a prominent role from the outset.
There was also a healthy and encouraging array of other print on show that was being using effectively. Wandering around the ‘Design Factory’ in the grade II listed Farmiloe Building on St John’s Road, many of the exhibitors’ small yet wonderfully constructed ‘stands’ featured rigid media such as forex sheets for captivating signage, flexible wide format print for striking promotional backdrops and more often than not I spotted high quality printed brochures on the coffee tables of visitor lounge areas.
I spoke to one visitor – an interior designer from Spain – who was flicking through a company’s brochure while sitting on one of their chair products. “I love these type of books,” she explained, running her hand across the embossed front cover. “They are so beautifully put together, with great stories and imagery. It helps me to visualise future projects and the role these products can play when tackling a brief.” She would get on well with Jonas. Proudly holding aloft a thick brochure packed with projects that Form Us With Love has produced for a wide range of brands, he concluded his session by saying, “This book is our story. It shows how design is much more than just the colour, shape or functionality of a product. It is the product.”