First look at London Design Festival 2018, from installations to branding by Pentagram

This year’s week-long celebration of design will see installations by Kellenberger-White, Studio Frith and Waugh Thistleton Architects, plus a refined, “playful” visual identity by Pentagram’s Domenic Lippa.

London Design Festival (LDF) has announced part of its programme for 2018, which will include an alphabet-themed installation by Kellenberger-White and an effort to reintroduce water fountains to London.

This year marks the 16th edition of the capital’s week long-festival, which will take place 15-23 September.

John Sorrell, chairman at LDF, says this year’s edition will show how design can “make the world a better place” while “informing, inspiring and exciting” the public.

The festival will also see the second edition of the London Design Biennale, which takes place every two years and launched in 2016.

Taking over Somerset House, it features project submissions from roughly 40 countries across the world, responding to a specific theme, which will be “emotional states” this year.

This year will also see several new design districts created around London, including ones in Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Regent Street and St James, bringing the total number of districts up to 10.

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum will be celebrating its 10th year of being the festival’s main design hub, and will see several installations, some of which take advantage of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, which opened last year.

Visualisation of Alphabet, by Kellenberger-White. Courtesy of Kellenberger-White.

Installations include Alphabet, by Kellenberger-White, which sees the graphic design studio turn its hand to product design. The piece will include a set of 26 alphabet-shaped, steel stools that the public can sit on, painted in various colours using International Marine Paints, an industrial brand used to paint bridges and metalwork. This was chosen to reflect how the installation will be sat in front of Exchange House in Broadgate, a building which is built on a steel bridge that spans the tracks of Liverpool Street Station.

Alphabet, by Kellenberger-White

“We’ve become more multi-disciplinary as a studio, and we thought this was a great opportunity to be elastic in our practice,” says Sebastian White, co-founder at Kellenberger-White.

The stools aim to encourage the public to “engage” with them, says White, through sitting on them, forming words and moving them around.

“We wanted to make a kit of parts for people to use and express themselves with,” White says. “The designer’s sense of ownership of a project stops and it becomes whatever it could be. This can be something people can use to express opinions, which is becoming more relevant today than ever.”

Visualisation of Multiply, by Waugh Thistleton Architects

Another installation is Multiply, by Waugh Thistleton Architects, which will see a modular, maze-like, house structure installed in the V&A’s Sackler Courtyard, part of the Exhibition Road Quarter.

The pavilion will be made of a recyclable wood called American Tulipwood set in panels, meaning it could be reconfigured or taken down if necessary, and aims to explore issues around sustainable housing solutions.

Other ventures include A Fountain for London, by designer Michael Anastassiades, which is a prototype for a new water drinking fountain that will launch at the V&A and aims to tackle the issue of non-recyclable plastic bottles; Dazzle, by Studio Frith, which will see a room at the V&A recreated to reflect the colourful camouflage ships used in the world wars; and Time for Tea, by Scholten and Baijings, a tea party installation that will take over the first floor of Piccadilly Circus’ Fortnum & Mason flagship store.

Visualisation of Time for Tea, by Scholten and Baijings

Victoria Broakes, head of LDF at the V&A, says that, while the festival has no overarching theme, sustainability plays a key part this year and will be explored by many architects and designers.

She adds that LDF looks to attract a “wider, younger and more diverse audience” to the V&A every year, and will continue to do so, with an exploration of “new technology, digital design and gaming”.

“The V&A has always set out to be open and accessible to everyone but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody wants to come,” says Broakes. “The festival is a great way of showing people how interesting design is, and opening the doors to younger designers and those who are less established, through installations, talks and events.”

This year’s London Design Festival identity, by Domenic Lippa

There will be a refined version of the LDF visual identity, designed by Pentagram partner Domenic Lippa, who creates it every year.

The branding keeps a similar style and concept, retaining the red and white colour palette, and bold, sans-serif typeface, but is refined slightly to suit a different idea or theme each year.

This year’s identity has been inspired by the “democratic” and “humanist” nature of Edward Johnston’s 1916 London Underground typeface, says Lippa.

The identity will also be “ever-evolving”, and will change on digital platforms throughout the duration of the festival, which aims to be “playful and celebratory”. It retains the colour red, which is the “colour of London”, he adds.

London Design Biennale branding, by Domenic Lippa

Lippa has also designed the sub-brand for the London Design Biennale, which responds to the theme of “emotional states” through a series of masks that appear to show seven different emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise.

The masks were formed as paper sculptures, created by artist Andy Singleton, and were then photographed for the campaign by John Ross.

Broakes says on the identity: “The changing festival identity is a master-class in how you can have the most restrictive of briefs and be so creative with it. It’s about making the same words and the same colours new. There’s a strong focus on the narrative and [Domenic Lippa] is very thoughtful about what it means.”

Masks created for London Design Biennale, by Domenic Lippa

London Design Festival takes place 15-23 September with more announcements expected in coming months. It is supported by its partner British Land. For more information, head here.

All photos courtesy of LDF and the V&A.

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