London Design Festival Preview

Photo by: arsenisspyros/istock/getty images plus/Getty Images 

by Henrietta Thompson, The Daily Telegraph, September 15, 2016

It’s chaos out there. In London during the month of September. No longer is this mélange of design and culture manageable, as London Fashion Week merges into the London Design Festival before all merging into Frieze week in October. Although I’ll admit that chaos can often be beautiful, never have I seen such an enormous explosion of creativity in this city as now. So how to begin to make sense of it all?

Every year the London Design Festival seems to grow in scope and stature. It started in 1995 with a trade show, 100% Design at the decidedly undesignerly Earls Court. Two years later this was followed by Designers Block, a maverick upstart dedicated to young designers. As it gathered pace with more showrooms and galleries staging their own "off piste" events, it was clear that some organisation was required. Up stepped Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans, who created the London Design Festival as a city-wide umbrella event in 2003.

Fast forward to 2015 and more than 2,000 international design businesses took part in the London Design Festival overall, with no fewer than seven "Design Districts” from Brompton Cross to Bankside each offering a programme of exhibitions and events. LDF has made its headquarters in the V&A, taking over the museum for the month of September too.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep up with, this year is the inaugural London Design Biennale at Somerset House, the first ever Luxury Made show in Olympia's Pillar Halls, and Fashion & Design Month returns for a second year to Regent Street.

It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. Here are some preview highlights:

Bethan Laura Wood's vases and vessels for Bitossi Ceramiche are on show at the Design Museum shop

1. Bethan Laura Wood returns to the Design Museum where she very first exhibited as a Designer In Residence way back when. This time the Design Museum Shop will host Six Vases, a window installation of ceramic vases from her new Guadalupe collection for Bitossi Ceramiche.

2. Leading designers including Sir Kenneth Grange, Tom Dixon, Ross Lovegrove and Moritz Waldemeyer are all customising cork stools for Who’s Casper?, a collaboration between designjunction and furniture company Modus to raise funds for refugees through the charity Movement on the Ground. The identity of who designed which stool will remain a secret during the exhibition reaffirming the value of a nameless person.

3. Danish textiles maker Kvadrat presents a new collection of curtains by Doshi Levien, who are also building Pilotis, an imaginative and architecturally formed installation in Kvadrat’s Shoreditch Showroom, to celebrate.

4. Cornish designer Tom Raffield will be presenting his new collection of beautifully handmade, steam-bent, wooden furniture at Decorex for the first time – well worth a look.

5. Paul Cocksedge will launch his Compression sofa for Moooi at the Dutch brand’s new flagship showroom.

Paul Cocksedge's Compression sofa for Moooi

6. MINI has collaborated with Asif Khan to create an installation exploring the future of city living – from where we work, live and socialise to how we move around it. The three Forests installations can be found in Shoreditch, London

7. Gyro, Brodie Neill’s design for the Australian Pavilion of the London Design Biennale takes small fragments of washed-up plastic to produce a terrazzo-like composite – on the one hand an impressive table and centerpiece, on the other “a souvenir of humanity’s neglect for the environment”.

8. The British Craft Pavilion at the London Design Fair will showcase some 25 craftspeople from across the British Isles, selected to represent the best of British craft. Worth a visit in particular to see Nature Lab – an immersive exhibition of gorgeous works first shown at Design Miami/ Basel in June.

9. Glaciarium is a showcase of chandeliers, crystal components and home décor by Fredrikson Stallard for Swarovski – and a chance to visit the design duo’s vast HQ in Clerkenwell, which should never be passed up.

10. Joining designjunction for the first time, Christopher Jenner, known for his passion for traditional English craft and its relationship with technology, will present a two-year collaboration with Sheffield-based heritage silverware brand Elkington & Co.

11. Inspired by the legendary (if unadvisable) "Brompton cocktail", Max Lamb, Peter Marigold, Faye Toogood and Tomas Alonso have all mixed their own tipples for an installation by food designers Arabeschi di Latte at The Garage in the Brompton Design District.

12. At the V&A, one of the most lovely looking of this year's landmark installations will be "The Green Room", a string sculpture by creative couple Studio Glithero.

13. Tord Boontje has invited an impressive group of his designer friends to his London studio to celebrate "the craft of electronics and electronics made as craft" in a new exhibition. Industrial Facility, Simon Hasan, Studio Drift, Front, Raw-Edges and others are among the very promising creative lineup.

14. SCP has collaborated with Piet Hein Eek on the Dutch designer's first retrospective. With new works on show alongside pieces from the archive, with a special focus on porcelain objects, it promises to be an eye-opening exhibition.

15. Inspired by the tropical ghost town that is Fordlandia in the Amazon rainforest, Studio Swine’s latest project imagines a world where nature and industry have entered a symbiotic relationship and design can be both sustainable and beautiful. See their new natural rubber furniture and products at the Fashion Space Gallery.


This article was written by Henrietta Thompson from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.