London Design Festival 2021 – exhibitions and trade shows guide

From upcycled cabinets to a spotlight on Baltic design, we run down the can’t-miss exhibitions and trade shows at this year’s London Design Festival.

Exhibition: Against the Grain

Arts platform Fels and Jan Hendzel Studio have collaborated on materials and innovation-focused exhibition Against the Grain. Opening at Peckham’s Copeland Gallery, the show promises objects from unexpected mediums, all created with sustainable principles. Featured designers include Attua Aparicio, Marco Campardo and Tom Dixon. Jan Hendzel, whose eponymous studio won the 2021 Design Week award for furniture design, says that the exhibits will showcase sustainable practices – from quality materials to unique processes – and “showcase them to the wider community”. Fels co-founders Oscar Mitchell and Finbar Conran put on their debut show, Where Things Fall Down, over the summer.

Against the Grain runs 18 – 27 September at the Copeland Gallery, 133 Copeland Road, SE13 3SN.

Exhibition: 100 Days of Gratitude

Over a 100-day period, illustrator Justyna Green has been drawing portraits of people working in the creative industries as they endure and enjoy lockdown. Green asked a diverse group of artists, designers and more a simple question: what are they grateful for? Answers included nature, morning coffees and family life (pets included). The lively, colourful designs are now on display for LDF. Illustrated prints will also be available to buy at the exhibition at £100 each, with proceeds going towards Endometriosis UK.

100 Days of Gratitude runs 18 – 22 September at Residency, Islington Square, 129 Upper Street, N1 1QP.

Exhibition: The Future of Home

Unsuprisingly, there’s a focus on furniture design this year as designers consider the future of our domestic spaces – and how they might incorporate remote work. The Future of Home has been curated by Stacey Hunter (director of Edinburgh’s Local Heroes) and tackles the question with over 40 pieces from a new generation of Scottish designers, as well as more established names such as textile design studio Hilary Grant. It promises to convey “the sense of curiosity and discovery found in Scotland’s dynamic design culture”, according to organisers.

The Future of Home runs 18 – 26 September at 6-7 Thurloe Place, SW7 2RX.

Exhibition: Tactile Baltics

From Scotland to the Baltics, with an exhibition that showcases designs from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Organised in collaboration with the Latvian Design Centre and the Lithuanian Design Forum, the Shoreditch-based show hopes to draw attention to Baltic design through an eclectic mix of furniture, lighting and textiles. While not much has been revealed about the themes, the region has a “deep-rooted connection to nature”, according to the exhibition organisers. And as the name suggests, there’s an emphasis on tactility. “Visitors can feel the environment around them as they trace a path throughout the exhibition,” they add.

Tactile Baltics runs 18 September – 3 October at Dray Walk Gallery, off Brick Lane, E1 6QL. 

Trade show: Design London

Trade show Design London makes its debut this year at the Greenwich Peninsula (a short walk from the newly-opened Design District). Expect emerging and headline brands from many corners of the world, including Italy’s Natuzzi and Artemide, South Africa’s Philosophy Furniture and Turkish furniture designers Fratelli. There will also be a designated pavilion for Danish furniture brands with an environmental focus. Flid’s handtools are made from scrap wood and leather, for example, and are designed to be deconstructed and reused. A line of chairs from Wehlers is produced almost entirely from 100% recycled ocean plastics.

British designers also make a showing. Up-and-coming furniture designer Christian Watson will present his line of furniture inspired by British craftmanship, while British-Finnish duo Mirka Grohn and Jo Wilton (who make up &New) are showing their fully-recyclable furniture made from plastic that was headed to the landfill. There will also be talks from Yinka Ilori, Henry Holland, and more.

Design London runs 22 – 25 September at Magazine London, 11 Ordnance Street, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0JH.

Other things to check out

  • FreelingWaters, by Wrong Shop Projects. Dutch artists Gijs Frieling and Job Wouters (who come from painting and graphic design backgrounds) have turned their attention to upcycling cabinets for this first outing from Wrong Shop Projects. Expect geometric patterns and boldly-coloured patterns. The exhibition runs 18 – 28 September at Design House, 14 Cavendish Square, W1G 9HA.
  • V-Gallery, from Grind and Giles Miller Studio. Coffee brand and designers and architects Giles Miller Studio have crafted a virtual coffee bar which will draw attention to issues of waste in the UK’s coffee industry. You can view the V-Gallery on the Giles Miller Studio website.
  • Mycota, curated by The Mushroom and Material Connections. This immersive exhibition aims to explore the narrative around the material uses of mushrooms – heralded as “miracle organisms” – through research, literature, and experimentation. It runs 16 – 29 September at 13 Soho Square, W1D 3QF.
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