London Design Festival – an edited guide

London Design Festival – an edited guide

A far from definitive selection of things to do and see during LDF, from the debate over single-use plastics to a live demonstration of drones building temporary housing…

With 14 design districts across five areas of London, one of the biggest challenge of London Design Festival (which runs from 15-23 September) is the information overload – there’s simply too much to see, everywhere. In order to help you filter through the countless shows, demonstrations and talks, we’ve compiled our own ‘to do’ list. We must stress this is far from a definitive ‘best of’ – for that we’d need to publish a standalone magazine – but this will at least help to point you in the right direction…


British Craft Pavilion at London Design Fair

We couldn’t start without mentioning our own contribution – for the second year running we are curating the British Craft Pavilion, bigger and better than ever, including a special focus on Cornish creativity (in association with the Cultivator programme) and the winners of our inaugural Cræftiga prize for emerging talent. Check back throughout the week for profiles on some of those involved…

Joel Parkes in his shed-cum-studio

Joel Parkes will be one of the makers showing at British Craft Pavilion, curated by Hole & Corner


Landmark Projects

As usual, the festival has commissioned some high-profile, attention-grabbing Landmark Projects, including MultiPly, a maze-like installation by Waugh Thisleton Architects in the V&A’s Sackler Courtyard (a collaboration with Arup and the American Hardwood Export Council), Es Devlin’s interactive Please Feed The Lions in Trafalgar Square and Kellenberger-White’s Alphabet chairs in Broadgate



V&A Projects

Dazzle is an ingenious graphic collaboration between design agency Pentagram and 14-18 NOW exploring the concept of disruptive camouflage, commemorating the centenary of the end of the Great War (below).

Pentagram have also put together 10 Years at the V&A, celebrating LDF’s decade-long partnership with the museum.

And while you’re there, don’t miss The Onion Farm by Henrik Vibskov – a spinning, ‘Mikado-like’ structure installed in the Tapestry Room. We were going to attempt t explain it further, but it might be easier if you just went along and witnessed it for yourself…

Throughout the week there will also be a series of fascinating talks at the V&A as part of the Global Design Forum, the LDF’s curated thought leadership programme, ‘celebrating design and the minds shaping its future’ – those minds this year include Lord Richard Rogers, Grafton Architects, Ilse Crawford and Rankin.


Also recommended…

Talking of talks, the clever people at Franklin Till have curated Guilt-Free? – a series of discussions and workshops exploring whether design and material innovation can appease our increasing social and environmental conscience

Bill Amberg meanwhile launches his new printed leather product, Bill Amberg Print, with a collaboration between designers including Faye Toogood, Timorous Beasties and Tom Dixon at the new Coal Drops Yard development in Kings Cross (below). Dixon also presents ELECTROANALOGUE, exploring the realms of digital technology, at his new HQ and flagship store, also at Coal Drops Yard.

Timorous Beasties design using Bill Amberg Print

Furniture store SCP presents A World of Ordinary Things, a programme of product launches and experiences reflecting on our relationship to the objects that we live with on a day to day basis, featuring a series of designers including Gareth Neal, whose project On Rotation is a collaboration with Folk founder Cathal McAteer, utilising excess fabric from the clothing brand’s manufacturing process to upholster a furniture collection designed by Neal (also on show at the Folk store in Redchurch Street).


The New Craftsmen present a new collection by multi-disciplinary designer and Jesmonite specialist Malgorzata Bany, spanning a range of design objects, lighting and furniture (below).

Always a highlight of LDF, Mint celebrates its 20th anniversary with Trans-Form, a show curated by Lina Kanafani featuring over 60 ‘material-forward designers’, celebrating the transformative power of design.

To mark their new furniture collaboration with Bethan Gray, which draws on global craft traditions, Anthropologie are hosting an in-conversation event discussing the origins of the collection.

And Turner Prize-winning architects Assemble open up their creative workspace Sugarhouse Studios to showcase an inspired range of artists, designers and furniture-makers.

As part of the designjunction line-up,  The Mud Shell Project by Stephanie Chaltiel uses the latest drone technology to build an alternative temporary housing system for emergency contexts, which will be displayed on the Riverside Walkway (see main image).

One word: Plastics

And lastly, with the subject of single use plastics on everyone’s minds this year (order our Elements Issue for enlightened thoughts on the topic by Caroline Till, Zoe Laughlin, Natsai Audrey Chetsai and more), the theme is explored in fascinating ways throughout LDF. Not only is it the Material of the Year at London Design Festival, it is also the subject of the Conscious Creators exhibition at Selfridges, the Plastics Cloud forum by Unilever, SAP Leonardo and Design Thinkers Academy London, as well as designer James Shaw’s Plasticscene show with Modern Design Review. (Shaw, incidentally, is one of the makers who donated a work to our Cræftiga Collection to raise money for our fund.)


All of which is just a toe in the vast sea of LDF – keep checking back online for more reviews, recommendations and maker profiles (as well as our own thoughts on the plastic debate) throughout the week… Meanwhile, you can see the entire London Design Festival programme here

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