Between 5th and 8th December over 100 designers will congregate at the Truman Brewery to show and sell their wares at the East London Design Show. Complete with a Craft House hosting workshops for adults and children alike, and a Food Hall offering up artisan food from sushi to roast meats, speciality cheese to macaroons, all to be washed down with Boutique Beer, East London Wine or 'mocktails', ELDS is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in style. Artstar will be there, showcasing our first exclusive range of products, and officially launching the brand to the world. If you'd like to join us you can download a voucher so you can bring a friend along free.
Seeing as we are looking excitedly ahead to our future we thought we'd find out a bit more about how ELDS had made it to twenty years old. Lucy Bannister asked founder Della Tinsley a few questions about this landmark show, kids and sausage sandwiches.
Did you ever think ELDS would be twenty years old?
No, not at the beginning. It all started kind of randomly, I was still designing and making glass so ELDS really started as a way to sell that work and the work of our peers in Shoreditch.
It started modestly in my studio with 32 designers on trestle tables and a café run by my partner Gideon, where you could only get a sausage sandwich. My brother did the electrics. You could definitely call it homegrown!
One of our visitors to that first show was from Shoreditch Town Hall so we changed venues the next year and slowly grew. We built ELDS out of the talent and support of the designers we were showing, by swapping skills for tables at the fair.
In 2000 we had some help from Sue Withers to get everything up to speed and that was when we really plucked up the courage to up the ante and let the show take over our lives!
There is a lot of competition now but when we first started it was really unique - there was no Etsy and no-one had transactional websites. This was the only way to sell your work directly to your customer and help boost your cash flow.
But even in the age of online direct sales it is still essential to have ELDS - these are tough times so it is important to work together and support each other. Many of our designers have been with us a long time and I would now consider them to be very close friends. We've watched their businesses grow and get stronger, which is something I am really proud of.
I imagine you have met some amazing people and seen some great work along the way. Are there any designers or pieces that particularly stand out?
Yes absolutely. The designers that I most admire are the ones who realise it is not just about the products, this show is about the human touch and that opportunity for customers and designers to meet and establish a personal connection, which is something that can't be replicated online.
I also have a great respect for mid-to late-career designers who have been doing this for a long time and still manage to design beautiful new collections. It can be really tough to be over 40 and practising for a long time because how do you get the press when all they are interested in is the bright new things?
But I see them excelling every year at the show and jewellers particularly do well because people value the longevity and appreciate expert guidance through the commissioning process.
Are there any specific designers that stand out?
Ella Doran - she had her very first show with ELDS and now we stock her in our shop. Her business is a good model as she has a very good work ethic. She's a good employer and the way she approaches her designs and projects is very robust. She's local and we love working with her, she does what she says she'll do and then more, whilst remaining realistic about what to expect.
Suck UK and Black + Blum have done the show for many years and now have their own stores and we stock them in the ELDS shop.
I love Jo from HAM's illustrations. They are beautiful and simple, and I particularly like the way she applies them to the product range. She produces a high quality of product and provides an outstanding service in the way she interacts with her customers.
And I think Artstar is going to fit in really well, they have lovely designs and quality products.
You are very open to families and children attending the show. How is attending a show like ELDS important for children?
Well I can only talk about my own kids with any authority! Gideon and I are a self-employed husband and wife team with two kids and I want my kids to understand that there is more than one way to make a living.
I want them to meet as many different people as possible. ELDS exposes them to all sorts of different people and products that they won't see on the high street - I want them to appreciate how things are made and to know if they are beautiful, and well designed.
But this year you have the Craft House, can you tell me more about that?
Yes we are really excited about the Craft House area. Before, the show has always been a bit squashed so there was no room to expand. This year we can run several workshops at the same time.
For example, Walker Books are bringing their authors to do readings and workshops, and we love a good collaboration like this.We are going to be able to cater to different age groups. What's better than seeing someone's granny sat next to a toddler and a teenager, all working together?
This year you are moving into a bigger, better venue. Do you have any tips for first-time visitors? How can they find those hidden gems?
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But that aside I would say start by having a walk around the whole show, then go to the food hall, have some tea and cake (or maybe even a stiff drink!), and make a list of what stood out and then go back and look round again with a view to buying.
If you have got kids blatant bribery is best! Break down the show into treats (e.g. if you walk around these next two aisles you get cake/to make a hat/listen to a story) to keep them happy.
What can regulars to the show expect with the move to Truman's Brewery?
We have an awful lot more space to do the things we have been wanting to do for a while. Before the cafe was very mono syllabic (if you didn't like sausage sandwiches you were a bit screwed!) and we really wanted a food hall. Especially for the exhibitors who are in the hall a very long time - design appreciators also appreciate lovely well made and packaged food!
There will be a central seating area and food hall so you can pick and mix from sushi, chocolate, roasts, cheese, macaroons, sandwiches and cakes. The Boutique Beer Company will be there and the East London Wine Store.
And there will be an extra 40 exhibitors in the show, so it should feel busy, fun and very lively.
The East London Design Show runs from 5 - 8 December. ELDS website: http://www.eastlondondesignshow.co.uk
Lucy Bannister is a writer, artist and yoga teacher based in London. Having trained as an artist in Glasgow and Dundee, she then spent a decade making, working and leading a variety of artist-led projects and teaching art and design in Yorkshire. Now, following recent stints as an editor at Axisweb and the National Gallery, she is running her own yoga business, Lucyoga, and specialises in running classes in unusual urban spaces.