the rubber renaissance on the catwalk and the table top

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ENTRIES TO the first Dalsouple 100 Per Cent Rubber design competition included furniture from the Mind the Gap table (El Ultimo Grito, 0171-732 6614) to a selection of tuggers and drawer handles from Corkery Mackay (0181-579 8543), and magnetic rubber fridge frames (Curved Air, 01444 239222).

Craig Morrison, "the rucksack man", has been particularly successful since the competition. His range of spiky rubber rucksacks has expanded to include "milking stools" (pounds 75-150), the new "hooked spike" and "coloured spike" ranges and a striking new take on the familiar "lips" sofa. Morrison's website at www.cmd.co.uk posts regular updates on what's new from Craig Morrison design, but doesn't answer the question on everyone's lips: what happens when a person wearing a rubber dress sits on a rubber sofa carrying a rubber rucksack?

Equally earnest about rubber is Jephson Robb, inventor of the Robbo Neck Guard, confidently billed as "the rubber protective device that works". The Robbo retails at pounds 14 inc VAT. Call 0141 946 7007 or see the website at www.therobbo.com for details.

Another design which capitalises on rubber to create a stylish solution to a messy problem is the brilliantly simple rubber keyboard (pounds 69.95 plus pounds 3.95 p&p). Not only does the keyboard bend and roll for easy storage, but sealed keys and leads mean that spilled drinks and crumbs are no longer disasters. Call Magnate Distribution on 0151-242 9505 (www.magnatedistribution.com).

Similarly classy are the pairs of placemats with built-in coasters sold for pounds 13.25 by After Noah in Islington and Chelsea (mail order 0171-351 2610).

Techniques developed by designers such as Sandra Nunes (printed sheets of rubber) and Clare Goddard (latex/tea bag handbag) are reflected on the catwalk, as well as some Atelier Versace designs (further details from the Old Bond Street store: 0171-499 1862). Bond Products now manufactures colourful, unusual lights for pounds 24.99 plus pounds 1.50 p&p (0171-730 3011), and Jozefien Gronheid at Molecular Module (00 31 (0)20 422 9792) is making a range of products from furniture and vases to futuristic jewellery.

Fetishists with a taste for the differently scented should not, however, find all this moving into the mainstream a cause for despair. Libidex (0171-916 3346) is still the proud purveyor of far from sensible rubber garb to the persistently pervy.

Katy Guest

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