The Dock - London Design Week 2010

On the spot manufacturing, international entrepreneurialism and commerce meet in Portobello Dock.  Expect an original shopping experience, indoor and outdoor installations and exhibition overlooking the Grand Union Canal”.  That was the description of the Global Industry event that launched the opening of the Tom Dixon store at The Dock on 344 Ladroke Grove, London during London Design Week 2010.  A groovy address indeed but if you look closely The Dock sits appropriately next to a canal, at the end of the Grove not in the coveted Notting Hill end.  Property being limited and expensive in London the location choice is understandable but more interesting is that the removed location makes it exclusive, a hidden gem along a very well manicured part of the canal.  A closer look inside revealed something of a surprise, Dixon has selected a handful of exhibitors, a ‘pop-up market’ to work onsite and sell their products during the weeklong event beside his own ‘on the spot manufacturing’.  It doesn’t get greener than making products on-site with natural materials then selling them directly to the public.  The canals used to be the commercial lifeline of London, sustainable commercial life has come back to the canal.

Pop-Up Market

Simon Hasan, a Royal College of Art graduate, is British designer blurs the line between art and design, craft and industrial with his Mass Made collection.  With intense precision he makes rawhide, a thick yet soft material, conform to his perfectly symmetrical traditionally industrial vase moulds.  To top off the juxtaposition he sells them through a vending machine, usually reserved for disposable items and refreshments, where the buyer is asked to ‘please use’ and pay £76.00 for the Short Vase or £112.00 for the Tall Vase!  Calculated and crafty, ultra modern.

Scarlet and Violet Flowers was founded by Vic Brotherson in 2006.  At The Dock their knack for using found industrial containers to house delicate and breathtaking plants and flower arrangements suited the crafts atmosphere as one entered the ground floor.  Set against the canal water behind large arching windows they brought much-needed colour and green life to a typically wet and windy London day.

Brompton was invited by Tom Dixon to set up shop next to his.  The hands on assembly and personalisation of the bikes lends itself to the very intentional ‘on the spot manufacturing’ theme Dixon is going for in his own shop.  The Brompton Bicycle, weighing from 8-13 kg depending on specifications, is a foldable bike that was ‘conceived as a product that increases people’s independence and freedom’.  Each bike is custom built, B-spoke!, and all pieces are made in their factory in West London.  This bike is quickly becoming a British icon in its own right!

Tom Dixon Shop

Tom Dixon Shop is at the centre of the Portobello Dock.  Much like Terence Conran founded Habitat back in the 60’s Dixon is trying to set up his own empire.  As creative director for Habitat for a number of years he no doubt learnt from the master himself and with his new shop offers insight into what the future of our living room might look like.  There are a number of design elements unique to Dixon’s style, full bodied forms, crafted quality, and pure colour yet it is his very deliberate choice of natural materials that sets him apart as an avant-garde designer and entrepreneur.  The shop at The Dock was stocked high with wood, ceramic, metal, and natural fabrics.  Round and smooth wood that gets better with time, wire deck chairs that sit quietly yet strong on any terrace, blown glass lamp shades to give weight to white walls, or oven baked terra cotta watering pots made no excuses for being made.  You will not have a heavy conscience shopping here…because without blurting out ‘green’ and ‘eco’ the sustainable message was crystal clear.