London Design Festival (LDF), one of the largest and most innovative design events in the world has just celebrated its thirteenth year. This year, the annual festival featured 400 installations, exhibitions and events.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) the festival’s hub (for the seventh year) hosted a series of installations, interventions, displays, events and talks. Martin Roth, Director noted how the festival “transforms the museum’s galleries, corners and corridors into a treasure trail of design.”
Installations included: ‘Zotem’ in the Grand Entrance; ‘Curiosity cloud’ in the 18th century gilded Norfolk House Music Room; ‘Robin Day: works in wood’ celebrated the twentieth century designer’s creativity on a landing leading to the British Galleries 1500-1900; and ‘The Ogham Wall’ referenced textured textile surfaces in the darkened Tapestries Gallery.
Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale created ‘Mise-en-Abyme’. Translated from the French as ‘placed into abyss’ a landscape of overlapping semi-transparent shapes spanned the bridge above the Medieval and Renaissance galleries. Inspired by one-point perspective, pale pastel shades of acrylic referenced stained glass and contrasted with solid marble surroundings. Outside, the curved and rectangular reflective platforms of Frida Escobedo’s grid-like ‘Mexico Pavilion’ referenced the formation of the 14th century Aztech city of Tenochtitlán.
Industry figures across design disciplines participated in the Global Design Forum (GDF) held at the V&A: Morag Myerscough – Graphics; Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby – Luxury; Yves Béhar – Future, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – Makers; and Wolfgang Buttress – International.
Tom Dixon, OBE presented the GDF Industry Masterclass. He reflected on London’s history as a city of makers and illustrated the changing landscape of industrial manufacture in Britain and beyond. “Still mystified to be called a designer…” he sees his work more as sculpture, whilst adeptly working across creative direction, engineering and commerce. His experiments with industrial robots have resulted in flash or pop-up factories producing furniture and laser cut lighting designs. A current project ‘Multiplex’ an immersive multi-sensory department store forecasts the future of retail at the Old Selfridges Hotel, just off Oxford Street.
During the V&A’s ‘Friday Late’, Arts Thread (a launch-pad for new creatives) demonstrated how designers could market themselves digitally. Giles Ellis of Schofield watches and the illustrator Ben Tallon held the attention of an oversubscribed roomful of design graduates.
Somerset House, on London’s Northbank became a new destination for LDF in 2015. Director, Jonathan Reekie, indicated the cultural activity that takes place at this major centre for the arts encompassing fashion, film, music, design and photography it is also the home of Makerversity.
Highlights from ‘Ten Designers in the West Wing’ at Somerset House included the new Muo wireless speakers by Ross Lovegrove; Jasper Morrison’s MP 01 mobile phone for Punkt., the Swiss consumer technology company. Modular ‘Alphabeta’ pendant lamps with multiple combinations were demonstrated by online design studio Hem; and the worldwide launch of ‘Serif’ by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Samsung took place in a riverside room. In addition, winners of #PoweredByTweets: The Challenge were displayed.
Design Destinations attracted designers, manufacturers, buyers, the media and design enthusiasts. This year 100% Design moved to Olympia London; Decorex International, the longest standing design and interiors show was held at Syon Park; designjunction, in its fifth year took on new spaces at The College (formerly home to Central Saint Martins) showed leading trade-focused design brands, while Victoria House displayed retail offerings.
In the west Focus/15 mixed product launches with workshops and talks at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour (home to 102 showrooms, and over 500 of the world’s leading brands under one roof). Finally, in the city’s east end, Tent London (now in its ninth year) included the Australian International Pavilion, which showcased contemporary furniture; Super Brands London (Tent’s sister show) displayed independent design talent and brands.
Seven official independently organised Design Districts offered further activities and events. Bankside Design District became the first South London destination for LDF15. It joined Brompton Design District, Chelsea Design Quarter, Clerkenwell Design Quarter, Islington Design District, Queens Park Design District and Shoreditch Design Triangle. Exploring each district illustrates the different creative characters and sensibilities of the capital.
In its thirteenth year, more than 300 partners participated in LDF15. Australian design brands Dinosaur Designs and Mud Australia took part this year and a selection of Brodie Neill’s Made in Ratio Range was exhibited at designjunction.
Each year Pentagram creates the graphic identity for LDF. The LDF Guide is helpful for navigating your way around, there’s also the festival website and an App. If you are thinking of visiting LDF next year, don’t miss the inaugural Design Biennale at Somerset House from 7-27 September 2016. Over 40 of the world’s nations will participate on the theme ‘Utopia by design’…see you there in 2016!