Panel discussion: using design as a force for good

In the heart of London Design Festival, Hart Shoreditch sheltered an art and ceramic installation around its hotel inspired by breaking down the elements in design. Hamish Kilburn, Editor, Hotel Designs, chaired a panel discussion at the hotel to speak to the designers and other creatives about using design for good. Here are the takeaways…

Birdseye view of black and white installation at Hart Shoreditch during LDF 2023

Creatives and members of the design community were invited to a live panel discussion at Hart Shoreditch to watch an inspiring conversation on the journey of interior design in hospitality and how it can be used as a positive force for good.

Chairing this discussion was always going to be a balancing act. As well as hearing from the masters of the installation – meet James Daw (Illustrator) and Will Martin (Ceramic Artist) – I wanted to also open up this conversation to an outside designer – meet Jessica Morrison (Senior Associate at G.A Group), a spokesperson from London Design Festival – say hi to Rachael Hymas – and, of course, here from Lina Zakzeckyte, the General Manager at Hart Shoreditch.

To set the scene, Hart Shoreditch partnered with Daw for the ‘Fundamentals of Caring’ exhibition for London Design Festival 2023. The artist wanted to break down the fundamentals of the hotel’s design by creating hundreds of small objects in simple, basic designs and rebuilding these components back up again. This is where Daw brought Martin in to collaborate on this project by creating ceramics.

small ceramic objects in the wall at Hart Shoreditch

Image credit: Hart Shoreditch

Zakzeckyte is a General Manager who really understands the value of design and collaboration, which is hugely inspiring. She felt a connection and understanding when she met James and knew he would be the right artist for this commission. Supporting local artists and designers is of the utmost importance to Lina – to provide a platform for those who may not have previously been given the opportunity. Finding local artists in East London is highly important as it is an opportunity to give back to the neighbourhood and local community – a value incredibly significant to Hart Shoreditch.

Morrison, who led the interior design of 1 Hotel Mayfair, another hotel that has opened to redefine the area, spoke of the importance of partnering with craftspeople who can help to find the right pieces for the project, which ultimately helps with the whole design narrative.

1 Hotel Mayfair - Lobby, Living Chandelier

Image caption: The lobby inside 1 Hotel Mayfair. | Image credit: Jon Day

During the project, the interior designer went out to local craftsmen and women to really bring out the flavour of the neighbourhood through materials which she found was an easy sell as the hotel understood the importance of creating a particular narrative through its design. Daw added that the narrative for his project for LDF was incredibly important and to make the journey multisensory – sounds, smells and impressive animations all coming together to create a sensory explosion.

Supporting up and coming artists became the overarching topic of conversation across the panel. Hymas explained LDF’s platform – the Launch Pad – which aims to empower designers who encounter obstacles, such as financial boundaries, when wanting to participate in LDF’s partnership program which comes at a fee. The spokesperson for the festival agreed with Lina on the importance of celebrating artists who haven’t had the opportunity to showcase their work and enabling talented artists to emerge onto the design scene.

Martin added that working on this project with Hart Shoreditch allowed him to research deeper into his craft and found the time to improve his skillset and as a result his capabilities on the wheel have improved. Inspiring artists to do exactly what they do and continue their vision certainly allows the commissioner to get the best result.

Image caption: Ceramic artist Will Martin brought James Daw's illustrations to life, creating artefacts that were dotted around the hotel. | Image credit: Will Martin

Image caption: Ceramic artist Will Martin brought James Daw’s illustrations to life, creating artefacts that were dotted around the hotel. | Image credit: Will Martin

The conversation delved into luxury and how this is defined today. Rachael began by highlighting the environment and finding a way to use materials to improve the space is the key. Experiences and how you feel in a particular space now holds much more value when looking at design.

Daw brought the conversation to a close by highlighting that he draws inspiration from everyday life, which I think is a reminder to us all – find beauty in simplicity, in the fundamentals of design, which is an apt lesson to learn from this hearty discussion.

Main image credit: Hart Shoreditch