Brompton Design District's latest exhibition celebrates the 'New Simplicity' of practical design

An electronic gadget
Self-assembly torch designed by Alex Hulme and 3D-printed.
(Image credit: Jonathan Griggs)

A show that celebrates pared-down, functional and practical design might not sound full of thrills but, as the stalwarts of simplicity, Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa, have proved time and again, less can be certainly more.

'New Simplicity', in London's Brompton Design District, brings together a stellar selection of work by established names, such as Morrison and Industrial Facility, with a new generation of designers, including Jochem Faudet, Luka Stepan, David Sutton and Oscar Diaz. 'The exhibition teams up emerging designers with their mentors to showcase simple design, not as a style manifestation but an evolving approach, addressing the radical technological and social shifts occurring today,' says curator, Nuno Coelho.

Alongside Morrison's 'Basel' chair for Vitra and Industrial Facility's sinuous 'Branca' chair for Mattiazzi, are products constructed using the latest 3D printing technologies, including David Sutton's strikingly minimal wallet and Luka Stephan's ballpoint pen, both constructed of one single piece. 'Even the simplest of things are made using complex processes,' says Coelho.

Prototypes and newly manufactured products are displayed beside recent design classics. Other highlights include London-based designer, Alex Hulme's satisfying reworking of the calculator: 'Improving something as developmentally mature as a calculator is a real challenge; but a closer observation revealed that people often struggle to use and visualise the memory function,' he says. 'The memory in this calculator is visible on one of the buttons, thus improving its functionality. The user can see what is being held in the memory and use the number stored in it like any other button,' Hulme explains. Industrial Facility have also tackled the digital watch, making its often difficult-to-use alarm system easier to set and installing a vibration function for alerts during the day.

A focus on simple functionalism is certainly nothing new. Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa curated their own homage to it in 2006, with their 'Super Normal' exhibition, which celebrated durable, simple and well-made everyday objects. And Konstantin Grcic's Design Real show at London's Serpentine in 2009 lauded practical and mass-produced industrial design. But, perhaps as a backlash to design art and pre-recession exuberance, a wealth of today's designers are readdressing the ordinary, often neglected items of our daily routines, stripping back ornamentation and focusing on usability. And new technologies are helping them forge ahead. To use industrial designer, Dieter Rams' phrase, it's about 'less but better.'

An electronic gadget.

’iPod/iPhone capsule spindle’ designed by Jochem Faudet and 3D-printed

(Image credit: Jochem Faude)

An electronic item display

’iPod/iPhone capsule spindle’ designed by Jochem Faudet and 3D-printed

(Image credit: Jochem Faudet)

A sample image of cutlery

Dish rack by Jochem Faudet

(Image credit: Jochem Faudet)

A sample picture of keyset

Key set designed by Oscar Diaz and 3D-printed

(Image credit: Oscar Diaz)

A leather bag of electronic gadget

'Bubble bags' by Industrial Facility for Lacie France

(Image credit: Industrial Facility)

A white chair in modern design

'Branca' chair by Industrial Facility for Mattiazzi

(Image credit: Industrial Facility)

An electronic wallet with good design

'One piece wallet' designed by David Sutton and 3D-printed

(Image credit: David Sutton)

An modern table simple desing

Table by David Sutton

(Image credit: David Sutton)

A sample picture of light

Coat hanger by David Sutton

(Image credit: David Sutton)

A picture of pencil

'One piece pen' designed by Luka Stepan and 3D-printed

(Image credit: Luka Stepan)

Twinstopper by Industrial Facility.

'Twinstopper' by Industrial Facility for Droog

(Image credit: Industrial Facility)

A floorlamp photograph

U floorlamp by Jon Harrison for Habitat

(Image credit: Jon Harrison)

Horse animated image

'Pango Jumping Jack' horse designed by Mathias Hahn and 3D-printed

(Image credit: Mathias Hahn)

Decorative light

Lamp shade designed by Thomas Wagner and 3D printed

(Image credit: Thomas Wagne)

An analog watch

Analarm vibration watch’ by Industrial Facility for Idea Japan

(Image credit: Industrial Facility)


203 Brompton Road


Malaika Byng is an editor, writer and consultant covering everything from architecture, design and ecology to art and craft. She was online editor for Wallpaper* magazine for three years and more recently editor of Crafts magazine, until she decided to go freelance in 2022. Based in London, she now writes for the Financial Times, Metropolis, Kinfolk and The Plant, among others.