London Design Festival chairman says ‘be bold’ faced with recession

London Design Festival chairman Sir John Sorrell says this year’s event will be ‘a real opportunity to put London and the UK’s excellence in creativity at the heart of what’s happening in the world’. Sorrell adds that with the decline of the financial sector, the UK ‘has the opportunity to be seen by the world as a creative nation and the best creative partner’.
LDF director Ben Evans says,

‘This is an unusual year, and these aren’t normal conditions, but creative things always come out of difficult circumstances.’ He says the clarion call for this year’s festival, to be held on 19-27 September, is ‘be bold’.

The LDF, which is supported by the London Development Agency and now in its seventh year, will for the first time take up residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Evans says, ‘We have always harboured an ambition to work closely with the museum.’ He says this year, with the recent opening of the Sackler Centre, which is to be set aside for the LDF, ‘the space suits us very well – it’s a natural fit’.

Initiatives running at the V&A will include the London Design Embassy, a poster exhibition curated by Pentagram partner Domenic Lippa, designer-led tours of the museum, a Wallpaper-magazine chair arch, and an installation in the museum’s tunnel entrance made from waste.

The LDF will also focus on clusters around the city, to ensure a spread of activities across the capital. Evans says these clusters have come about very naturally, with the Brompton Design District in the west, the West End and Covent Garden forming the central
London hub, the focus falling on Clerkenwell, Hoxton and Shoreditch in the east, and on the Southbank Centre in the south of the capital.

Jaime Hayón is creating a gigantic chessboard in Trafalgar Square, called The Tournament, which will feature 32 giant chess pieces, allowing visitors to recreate the Battle of Trafalgar, while Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has been commissioned to design a temporary pavilion outside the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Size & Matter project.

Evans says he hopes that having big international names involved will help to attract people to the festival. He adds that there are plenty of entry opportunities for young designers to participate, saying, ‘It doesn’t cost much and it offers exposure. Our job is to generate new audiences.’

Sorrell describes the event as ‘the gateway to London’s world-class creative industries’. Evans highlights ‘a growing international audience’, pointing out that there are now 45 other cities with their own design festivals, many of which are keen to have a relationship with the LDF.

‘This is great – it helps put us in a central position,’ Evans says, but adds, ‘One thing we lobby Government about is that we can’t sit on our hands. Everyone else is playing catchup with us.’


  • The London Design Medal will be presented for the third time
  • 100% Design, Designersblock and Tent London will stage events
  • The Wapping Project will host a series of design-related talks
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