Is the London Design Festival too much to bear?

With the Ashes won, the next big event on the UK agenda is the London Design Festival, which kicks off tomorrow with the official opening in Admiralty Arch. It, along with grand settings such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of London and the Victoria & Albert Museum, is an impressive venue in which to celebrate design.

The LDF has grown significantly over its three-year life as it has gained recognition. But the demise of the World Creative Forum, conceived as its focus and the carrot to attract overseas governments and investors to London, leaves it without a heart. We are told that the forum will re-emerge at an unknown overseas venue, but it no longer relates to the festival.

Of course, for most people, two more established events are the twin hubs of the festivities. This weekend we have London Open House, when owners of buildings of architectural interest, be they historic or modern, open their doors to the public. The following Thursday sees the opening of 100% Design, a veritable extravaganza of events set around the contemporary furniture and accessories show at London’s Earl’s Court exhibition centre.

For design – and increasingly architecture – 100% Design is the main event. With 100% Detail and 100% Materials now at the main fair, a sister show in East London – 100% East – and fringe events under the 100% Guaranteed banner, there is plenty to see and ample opportunity to network. It also draws a foreign crowd of press, agents and manufacturers.

So what do the other LDF events add to this? They are certainly diverse and many appear to be interesting and influential. But surely they are easily lost in a programme already packed with too much activity. Have the festival by all means – it’s always good to celebrate design. But might it be better to stage it after 100% Design, extending activities in the capital over a month rather than a fortnight? It would take the strain off visitors daunted by too much choice.


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