5 installations to catch at London Design Festival 2018

From a giant, poetry-reading lion in Trafalgar Square through to multi-coloured alphabet chairs – here are the large-scale installations you should go see at this year’s LDF.

Please Feed the Lions, by Es Devlin

Please Feed the Lions by Es Devlin, photo courtesy of London Design Festival

What: A brand new lion will be popping up in the heart of Trafalgar Square – but this one will be far more outspoken than the other four. Designer Es Devlin, who has spent a year working with Google Arts and Culture on the project, has created the bright sculpture, which uses technology that enables it to create poetry. The public is invited to “feed” words to the lion, which will appear as LED lights in its mouth by day and light up Nelson’s column at night.

The fluorescent big cat will be joining the four original lions, which have taken pride of place in the square since 1867 and each weigh around 7,000 kilograms.

Devlin, whose past work ranges from large-scale gallery installations to stage designs for the likes of Kanye West and Beyoncé, is known for her projection-mapped sculptures, which incorporate light, sound and technology.

According to LDF, the designer had the idea for the installation when she was told by LDF chairman Sir John Sorrell that sculptor Landseer had always been keen for the original four lions to be more “animated” but that Queen Victoria had not approved.

When: 18-23 September 2018.

Where: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5NJ.

Info: This is a free event. For more information, head here.

Alphabet, by Kellenberger-White

Visualisation of Alphabet, by Kellenberger-White, photo courtesy of Kellenberger-White

The 26 letters of the alphabet, made of folded steel and painted a variety of bright colours, will be popping up in Broadgate in the form of chairs. The work by Kellenberger-White is designed so that people can interact with it – as well as taking a seat, visitors are encouraged to make words and express themselves with the letters. The bold mix of colours are all created using specialist, industrial paints that are used for metalwork such as on bridges – one example of a shade used is International Orange, which can also be seen on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US. The industrial paints link to the installation’s location in front of Exchange House, which sits on a bridge over Liverpool Street Station’s train tracks, according to the design studio. Influences behind this work include photography project Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair, taken by Bruno Munari in 1944.

When: 15-23 September 2018.

Where: Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, London EC2M 3WA.

Info: This is a free event which is supported by British Land. For more information, head here.

Mind Pilot, by Loop.pH

Mind Pilot, by Loop.pH, photo courtesy of London Design Festival and Design Museum

What: A giant, helium-filled air balloon will float in the atrium of the Design Museum – like something straight out of science fiction, visitors can supposedly control this suspended airship with their minds. It is in fact controlled by brainwaves – electrical impulses in the brain – which are picked up by a virtual reality (VR) headset that the “pilot” wears, and are sent as signals to move the ship in multiple directions, according to the Design Museum. It aims to offer a glimpse of the future, when people of all physical abilities could be able to operate flight through technology. The installation by Loop.pH studio is part of the theme of Belonging at the museum, which will also feature exhibitions and talks based on designing for inclusivity.

When: 18-23 September 2018.

Where: The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 6AG.

Info: Free tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the booth on the mezzanine at the Design Museum from 17 September. For more information, head here.

MultiPly, by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly by Waugh Thistleton Architects supported by the American Hardwood Council and ARUP, photo courtesy of London Design Festival

What: This maze-like structure aims to challenge two current problems in today’s world – the need for housing and climate change. Visitors can explore this interactive installation at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum’s Sackler Courtyard, by climbing up it, crossing bridges and peeking out of it. The installation, which is made of sustainable cross-laminated timber panels made out of American tulipwood, aims to highlight the potential that the material has and also points out the possibilities of modular, changeable design.

The work, which is supported by the American Hardwood Export Council and engineered by Arup, is one of this year’s landmark projects for the festival.

When: 15-30 September 2018.

Where: The Sackler Courtyard at the V&A, V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL.

Info: This installation is free. For more information head here.

Dazzle, by Pentagram and 14-18 Now

Dazzle, by Pentagram and 14-18 Now, photo courtesy of London Design Festival

What: This somewhat hypnotising installation is part of a series of artworks marking the centenary of World War One, and shines a light on how design contributed to the war effort. It is inspired by the dazzle camouflage that was used on ships during the war to confuse the enemy. The original dazzle ships were championed by Norman Wilkinson, a British artist behind some of the designs, and were inspired by Cubism, Vorticism, and animal prints.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 Now and the Liverpool Biennial, design studio Pentagram draws inspiration from the past but puts a twist on the idea by adding words to the patterns. The visitor is immersed in the Dazzle room, with graphic typography based on Wilfrid Wilson Gibson’s poem Suspense becoming part of the design. It is part of the Dazzle Ship series and follows on from a previous work by Sir Peter Blake, who designed colourful pop art graphics to cover a whole passenger ship in Liverpool, in a piece titled Everybody Razzle Dazzle.

When: 15-23 September 2018.

Where: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL.

Info: This is a free event. For more information, head here.

Also catch:

The Urban Forager, by Michelle Lowe-Holder: A sculpture installation based on the increasing use of nitrous oxide systems (NOS) on our streets, by the artist who has been collecting discarded canisters for three years. It is accompanied by a film documentary and photography work. For more information, head here.

T2 x LDF18: In a partnership with paper artist Helen Musselwhite, T2 teas will display a vibrant installation in the window of the flagship Regent Street store, made completely out of paper and inspired by the teas themselves. For more information, head here.

The Paddington Central Flip Book Garden, by Studio Appétit: A colourful, interactive installation by the Regent’s Canal, which resembles a giant flip-book that will transform as the day goes on. The work by Ido Garini, founder at Studio Appétit, is part of the Paddington Central Design Route. For more information, head here.

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