Everyone missed festivals and events in summer 2020, but boy did we miss them at HemDes.
We’ve established and are involved in 7 cultural festivals across the country, and usually summer for us is those every weekend plus our London-based design-led markets happening around the year, making for a busy events team and a packed schedule.
But it finally feels like we’re back, and not just back but bigger and busier working with more traders and makers, involving more people, and reaching wider audiences. Sadly, some of our large-scale regional festivals weren’t possible, but the smaller London ones have been going since May this year.
We started off the season with a tentative edition of SAMPLE – adapted for Covid safety and unsure whether people would come in great numbers to the Greenwich Peninsula site. But it turned out that the lure of being around other people; hearing the music pumping; meeting the faces behind the products; feeling fabrics and holding the weight of an object in your hand before making a purchase was strong. Around 70 designers and makers helped us bring 9000 people to the site over the weekend for a joyful return to weekends spent at markets.
Not content with ‘going back to normal’, we added a new event to our roster too – The Drops at Coal Drops Yard. Like most of our events the mission is to bring footfall to an area undergoing regeneration by filling the space with creative small businesses selling their wares, accompanied by music, food and fun, but this one goes further. The event is designed to make the most of its setting – taking inspiration from the brilliant line up of tenants and beautiful urban surroundings to create a market that’s about elevating ‘undiscovered’ talent. The Drops offers a first real-life point of sale to brands so far only existing online; getting new small businesses out of kitchens and bedrooms and small studio spaces and giving them an audience of design-obsessed shoppers. On top of this, it’s the first market of its kind to provide expert mentoring to its tenants – we hold workshops where our traders get to meet and hear from the likes of the founders of Universal Works and Tracey Neuls, getting the inside track on how these design brands got to where they are today.
Then came the first Classic Car Boot Sale in over two years. It rained so much on the first morning the production team had to go home and change into waterproof trousers; everyone needed to be under an umbrella at all times and classic car owners were worried about how watertight their prized, polished and precious vehicles would prove to be. And then… the queue of visitors started forming at the gate. The clouds parted and the sun shone through, and racks of handpicked vintage clothing were revealed from under their tarpaulins and the bar opened and the music kicked in and suddenly it all came together, and we were back. Back together, dancing in Granary Square, seeing the Mods ride in their scooters, watching as our stylish audiences made their entrance – suited, booted, dressed up to the nines. Familiar friends, famous faces and four-legged pals meeting and mingling and sharing the joy of being immersed in vintage culture once again. And it was marvellous.
Next up was a special edition of SAMPLE on the 18th and 19th of September as part of the launch of the new Design District at Greenwich Peninsula – over a bigger site incorporating new venues with workshops and talks as well as the designer-maker market. Then Festival of Thrift was back in Redcar on the 25th-26th September, back down to The Drops #4 on the 1st-3rd October, a sunny Classic Car Boot Sale again on the 9th and 10th of October and now…well, we’ll let you know. Keep an eye out and we’ll see you around. Got to get back to work.