It’s the time of year when London embraces design in all its glory, from product design to graphic design, from architecture to art installation and everything else in between, welcome to London Design Festival 2018 (15th-23rd September). This year it feels even bigger, I’ve certainly been inundated with press releases and invites, and it’s got me wondering if we are on the verge of having the equivalent of Milan Design Week? Maybe not quite there yet, but it feels like there is a lot on offer in 2018. Between Landmark projects, lynchpin design shows include the London Design Biennale (on until 23rd Sept), Decorex (16th-19th), 100% design (19th-22nd), designjunction (at its new location on the South Bank 20-23rd), Focus18 (16th-21st) and London Design Fair (20th-23rd). There is also the wonderful V&A hub of events, talks and installations and there are now eleven official design districts. It’s got some mileage in it and it looks to be an exciting 9 days. So what’s got me all excited and on my must-visit list? Obviously, the shows, because that’s my bread and butter, but there is also so much more across the 400+ events happening in the city. Here’s my Hello Peagreen guide to the London Design Festival to get you started.
It’s the 10th Anniversary of the V&A being the festival’s hub and yet another year of great installations. I love installations that use movement and light and the V&A has both. The tapestry gallery usually houses something interesting, and this year is no exception with Henrik Vibskov’s interactive and surreal installation The Onion Farm. Plus the Memory & Light by Arvo Pärt X Arup in the Norfolk House Music Room is bound to be intriguing. I also want to climb up through Multiply by Waugh Thistleton Architects, a huge wooden maze-like structure in the Sackler Courtyard. Then later in the week, I’m doing a behind the scenes tour at Blythe House, where the V&A archives are stored which I am very much looking forward to.
Design collective Matter of Stuff will open a pop-up gallery in the new creative quarter of Kings Cross designed by Raw Edge. It’s bound to feature some beautiful design, presenting the work of renowned brands across lighting, ceramics and furniture. Close by is Tom Dixon’s ELECTROANALOGUE in the brands’ new office, worth stopping in for a visit. Both of these are on the Kings Cross design route – details here. Last week I shared the Instagram accounts to follow for LDF inspiration and I know at least two of the people on that list plan to visit both of these. So remember to keep an eye on them alongside this guide to the London Design Festival.
It might not seem like an interesting subject on paper but on my list is Time for Tea by Scholten & Baijings, an immersive look at the ritualistic nature of tea. It’s definitely a ritual in my house, my feet can’t touch the floor until I’ve had a cuppa and I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese Tea Ceremony. In collaboration with Fortnum and Mason, the installation will examine tea and its position within cultures from around the globe. I do hope they serve builders tea though, it’s the only way I drink it until mid-afternoon when I switch to Earl Grey.
On my list is also, is the Nude x Iris Apfel Exhibition at Aria in Islington, not strictly an LDF event but it’s happening next week. I’ve seen Nude so often on the tradeshow circuit but they’ve just announced a year-long collaboration with the iconic Iris Apfel and I’m intrigued. Another glass company on my radar for LDF is new brand OAO Works created by designer Omer Arbel, he debuts the Glass Shop in Shoreditch where the 31.3 Polygon Glassware will be displayed and sold to the public. I’m intrigued as Omer Arbel is the creative director of Bocci one the most beautiful glass lighting brands – that once upon a time gave me a concussion during an install, totally my fault, but never forgotten.
Billing itself as a bigger event at this years London Design Festival is DARC Room (19-20th) in Shoreditch, which celebrates lighting design with a series of workshops, talks, light art installations and 50 exhibiting suppliers. While you are also in the area I’d recommend visiting the pop-up collaboration between Original BTC and Swedish design brand Superfront (28 Redchurch St, E2 7DP) in the Shoreditch Design Triangle, which also has a late night on Tuesday 18th.
Did I mention that the London Design Fair is going to have lots of curated country pavilions? No? Well, that was an oversight. With 13 country pavilions, there will be a wealth of independent and established brands showing at the Truman Brewery in East London. I’m particularly looking forward to the Netherlands design pavilion, as their one during Milan Design Week knocked my socks off and introduced me to fab bathroom brand Jee-O. Also showing will be the Best Of Portugal showcase in conjunction with the Portuguese Association of Wood and Furniture Industries (AIMMP). If you use the code 241, you can get 2 for the price of 1 on public tickets (but you only have until the 16 September).
Mad Atelier’s pop-up pub sounds right up my street. Chantal Martinelli and Julien Desormeaux of Mad Atelier are for LDF opening a three-room pop-up pub that will serve beer alongside artworks and design in an immersive, tactile design experience. As soon as I saw the raw plaster and brickwork I knew I had to visit.
One thing I cannot wait to see Es Devlin’s lion in Trafalgar Square, Please Feed The Lions has been created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture. I mean who doesn’t want to see a fluorescent, poetry-spouting lion at the base of Nelson’s Column (for the duration of the festival). I just hope it lives up to my expectations.
I haven’t even touched on the design districts really or the Global Design Forum events. LDF really has come along way since it was first launched in 2003 and there is definitely something interesting for everybody with an interest in design at the festival in the next 9 days, and you can see the full schedule here. I hope though that you’ve enjoyed my guide to the London Design Festival and I’d love to know what you plan to or did actually see. To see more of my design festival and trade show writing from 2018 take a look here.
First image: British Land Landmark Project, Alphabet by Kellenberger-White at Broadgate
Second and third image: Multiply by Waugh Thistleton Architects
Fourth image: The onion Farm by Henrik Vibskove photography by Andy Stagg
Fifth image: ‘Reconstructing Lord Cecil’ by Mad Atelier photography by David Cleveland
last image: render for Please feed the lions