At the tender age of 31, writer Max Fraser is already a ten-year veteran of the London Design scene and is increasingly one of its most indispensable fixtures. His first book—Design UK, a comprehensive shopping guide—was published in 2001, but it’s the second edition of his London Design Guide (which debuted at the festival) that will keep him, and you, on the map. Fraser’s take on a traditional city guide is shot through with a critic’s eye and a journalist’s ear as he editorializes on the best stores, galleries, showrooms, and museums in the Big Smoke—and on everything from the chilly reception one can get in London shops to the best Indian snacks at Covent Garden (Dishoom, by the way). londondesignguide.com
Peter Marigold seemed to be everywhere this year at the London Design Festival: British manufacturer Materialise commissioned some of Marigold’s 3-D printed work for an exhibit curated by gallerist extraordinaire Murray Moss at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Marigold’s SUM shelving was on display at SCP’s Design Department Store in the East End; DesignMarketo had him modify a set of the classic Duralex tumblers for a show at its pop-up watering hole, Bar Alto; and he showed plaster and metal vases based on originals made from timber-molded wax (below) at the show Methods of Imitation put on by the Workshop for Potential Design. Yet the man himself is anything but the megalomaniacal designer. "You know, Marigold is the leading brand of rubber gloves in the UK," he quipped when we inquired as to how such a busy man could have such a serene surname. petermarigold.com
Spanish-born and London-based designer Tomás Alonso got his start in the most un- likely of places—designing car wheels for an Italian company in Miami, Florida. After stints in Australia and elsewhere, Alonso settled in London to study at the Royal College of Art, and subsequently set up shop. In 2006 he formed the design collective Okay Studio; this year, the group showed a clutch of wooden furniture made by the Dutch manufacturer Arco in a temporary space during the festival. It was Alonso’s work in the show Vera, Chapter One, however, that really thrilled. The one-off wall shelf, lantern, paperweight, and tray (below) struck quiet notes, in no small part to the sublime vegetable-tanned leather straps enfolding each one. Asked by the show’s curators to respond to a photo of two women gazing at a horse, Alonso took the strength and structure of a bridle and applied it to these common household goods.tomas-alonso.com
Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.