The LDA must show its hand on London Design Festival

We’re still awaiting news from the London Development Agency about the future of the London Design Festival. We have yet to see the delayed economic evaluation by management consultancy Stratagem, finally due for publication next month, but word on the street is that funding of one sort or another will be forthcoming.

Whatever form that funding takes and the conditions put upon it, London will be celebrating design in December. It will be business as usual for 100% Design, the exhibition of furniture and building products at Earls Court . Meanwhile, east London should have a stronger focus on emerging talent under the auspices of Tent London, the new show conceived by 100% departees Ian Rudge and Jimmy MacDonald (see News, page 3 and News Analysis, page 9).

It’s too soon to judge the new show. But, perhaps in part response to its debut, 100% Design is going through a rethink, with branding by Angus Hyland at Pentagram and a new exhibition design in the offing. Meanwhile, the organisers are exploring new ways to inject more fun and relevance for visitors.

The organisers of 100% Design have branched out in various directions over the years. Much of this has been down to the entrepreneurial spirit of co-founder Rudge, which bodes well for Tent, but the management team is keen to continue to blend commerce with culture and experimentation.

With all this going on and both shows set to generate a ‘fringe’ of activities by smaller concerns, what can an umbrella organisation like LDF bring to the party? The pressure is certainly on to stage events that broaden the range of design featured – graphics, for example, is often seen as the poor relation to 3D in the festival and smaller local events can’t compete with some of the bigger world-class festivities.

Until the LDA sees fit to reveal its deal nothing can progress. It takes time to plan a strategy for such a wide-reaching showcase so we urge the LDA to get on with it and show its hand.


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