The UK Furniture Show, January 23-26, 2005, at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), saw the launch of the Isos collection. Showcased were 16 distinct lines, produced by 7 London manufacturers in collaboration with 12 designers and/or design teams.
To participate in the project, designers had to be members of East End London's Furniture Works and manufacturers had to be London-based. Isos organizers chose a range of contemporary household furniture designs by experienced and "new-blood" designers.
Metropolitan Works (London Metropolitan University initiative), Furniture Link (SME program) and Made in London (London-based manufacturer's organization) provided support.
The attention-grabbing oak storage unit and coffee table (above) were produced by Sunday, a new eco-aware company. Sunday is a collaboration of Blueline Office Furniture (an established manufacturer that uses only FSC certified timber and is endorsed by the World Wide Fund for Nature), Morph (designers Ben Cox and Bill Holding) and designer Sam Johnson. The three designers contribute product development, company identity and marketing, while Blueline provides manufacturing (Blueline is also invoicing and shipping until Sunday can take on these services).
"The Isos stand got quite a lot of attention - in part because it was a new [contemporary] area at the show, which is normally very traditional," Cox explained. Having also exhibited Sunday products at 100% Design, London's much-hyped annual showing of contemporary furniture, he pointed out that "the NEC show was far superior to 100% Design" in generating sales.
Rose Cobb, designer of the Lacuna sofa (above left) for Pekalp Ltd., also praised the Isos concept. "It's great to be involved with Furniture Works and the Isos project, because I think that building relationships between manufacturers and designers is really important to the growth of the industry. It’s frustrating, as a designer, to have ideas that you can’t produce yourself."
Other Isos designers and their partnered manufacturers
Pat Booth and Nina Moeller + Alma Ltd.; Paul Brady and Thomas Modeen + I-Glass; Andrew Figueira and Gary van Broekhoven + Alma Ltd.; Rock Gilpin + Pekalp Ltd.; Martin Grierson + Farrugia Ltd.; Max Lamb and Tom Price + Farrugia Ltd.; Beatriz Diaz Matud + David Cash Ltd.; Jasper Startup + David Cash Ltd.; Tony Wills and Brian Watson + I-Glass.
Since the Birmingham launch, the collection is being promoted on the Web and with a public launch at the Furniture Works East End London showroom (February 3-March 4) and an international launch at Milan Furniture Fair (April 13-18).
Cox summarized everyone's enthusiasm: "It was really good to get involved with Isos. There is a lot of stigma [about] English manufacturers, that they aren't willing to change their ways" - Isos proves that is not the case.
© Furniture Link 2005 (images © ISOS)