2010 London Design Festival aims for international appeal

Programme details are emerging for this year’s London Design Festival, which LDF director Ben Evans says will ’include activities from all over the world’.

With the LDF now in its eighth year, chairman Sir John Sorrell says, ’Since we started around 60 cities have followed our lead.’ He adds, ’Our design industry has to learn to be truly international – we can’t be parochial. The world has to be the new stage for the UK design industry.’

Sorrell also reveals that the LDF has signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing Design Week to develop a design festival in Beijing.

In keeping with the LDF’s international theme, the centrepiece of this year’s event will be the Outrace installation in Trafalgar Square, designed by Swedish/German consultancy Weisshaar Kram. Described by the consultancy’s Reed Kram as ’an immense mechanical octopus’, the installation will comprise six industrial robotic arms from car manufacturer Audi’s production line, each of which can project light traces. The public will be able to control the arms and create their own ’light paintings’, which will be displayed online.

This year’s LDF, which runs from 18-26 September, will, like previous years, spread across the capital in design districts. This year the action will centre on three areas/ Covent Garden and the West End, where partners will include the Design Council and a tie-up with Liberty will see fashion brand Acne create a furniture range; Clerkenwell, Hoxton and Shoreditch, which will have Tent London as a focal point; and the Brompton Design District, where the Victoria & Albert Museum will partner the festival for the second year running.

V&A director Sir Mark Jones says last year’s LDF saw visitor numbers at the museum up by 30 per cent. This year attractions at the V&A will include an installation by Stuart Haygarth on the marble staircase leading to the architecture galleries, using discarded pieces of frame from John Jones. Evans says, ’We have to find space in the V&A where we can add another layer.’ Also at the V&A, temporarily, will be Max Lamb’s commission for the HSBC Private Bank Connection Collection. Lamb, who describes the project as ’architectural in scale’, is taking casts of features from HSBC’s St James’s Street headquarters (which will provide a permanent home for the work after the festival) to make a ’monolithic’ block from which to create the work.

The V&A will also feature an installation from writers’ group 26, taking inspiration from the British galleries, and ’designer maps’ curated by Johnson Banks’ Michael Johnson, which will form tours of the building.

Meanwhile, the South Bank will host Paul Cocksedge Studio’s Size & Matter project – three magnetic stainless-steel sculptures which Cocksedge says are inspired by the idea of dropping huge 1p pieces from the sky, and will look like distorted coins that are 3m in diameter. These statues will magnetically attract copper coins donated by visitors – which will go to charity – ’turning pennies into pounds’, as Cocksedge says – allowing onlookers to ’decorate, donate to and change the sculpture’.

Running concurrently to the LDF proper will be Neville Brody’s subversive-sounding Anti-Design Festival, which will operate from a base in Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street. While giving little away yet, Brody says the event will be a reaction to ’25 years of deep freeze in this country’, during which ’cultural thinking has been put on ice’. Tangible details include a plan to close off Redchurch Street for a weekend, tie-ups with artist Stuart Semple and French illustration group Bazooka, and a five-seater ’microplex’ cinema.

London Design Festival highlights

  • Outrace – by Weisshaar Kram in Trafalgar Square
  • Size & Matter – by Paul Cocksedge Studio on the South Bank
  • Anti-Design Festival – by Neville Brody in Shoreditch

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