The scale and scope of the London Design Festival means you need to steer a well-planned route through the mammoth event that covers every discipline as well as multiple sites across the capital. Max Fraser provides a guide
THE JOB of organising the London Design Festival, now in its fifth year, into a coherent package for trade, public and foreign visitors has not, and should not, have got easier. Not dissimilar to the city’s geography, piecing together the ever-morphing choice of more than 200 exhibitions and events happening in this vast metropolis requires an A-Z during this busy ten-day period, running from 15-25 September. Here, we preview a handful of those events to which we’re most looking forward.
LDF hub at the Royal Festival Hall
Located in the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, the London Design Festival base should be your first port of call to pick up a free copy of the LDF guide to events, attend one of a number of scheduled design talks, and view the Swarovski chandelier installations. Sculptural concrete and Corian works from Amanda Levete and Zaha Hadid have been commissioned to reflect the current ‘design art’ trend, culminating in an auction by Philips de Pury on 13 October. The Super Design Market selling exhibition of affordable products by emerging designers (21-23 September) shouldn’t be missed. Also in the area is the New Designers Selection of this year’s best new design graduates, showing in the gallery at 1 Oxo Tower.
• Information including venues, dates and opening times can all be found via the London Design Festival website (www.londondesignfestival.com) or listed in the guide printed by the festival organisers, available from most venues. Most shows take place between 15-25 September but check for individual details
• The trade interiors event 100% Design runs at Earl’s Court, London SW7, from 20-23 September
If you’re not too busy swanning around the new Shoreditch House at the top of the Tea Building in east London, check out some exhibition offerings downstairs such as mid-century furniture by Jens Risom at Rocket gallery; new Italian and Swiss seating from Sagal Group; and Scene at Crib 5, a group show challenging the notion of how an idea evolves from conception to reality. Around the corner, view new digitally sculpted seating and lighting from Australian designer Brodie Neill at the new Gallery in Redchurch Street. Nearby, Agence Atelier will present new furniture from South American designers at the Rich Mix Foundation. The impressive 2007 lighting collection from Flos can be viewed at SCP in case you missed it in Milan in April (and an installation by Donna Wilson will adorn its new Westbourne Grove store).
Brick Lane (East)
The growth of diverse design events in the Truman Brewery complex on Brick Lane over the years is being structured and branded for the first time by Tent London. The organisers will take over the 4.5ha site with a variety of exhibitions. The core is Content which will showcase contemporary products from new and established designers and manufacturers. New graduates have the possibility to shine in the Talent Zone while vintage design has its first proper outing during the London Design Festival in the form of Circa. Other installations include Italian, Swedish and Scottish group shows, and a collection classed as Superbrands completes the picture.
Not to be missed is Designersblock, which is proudly celebrating its tenth anniversary. As well as the mix of more than 60 international design talents will be the Manufacturing Advisory Service with an exhibition and workshops aimed at linking designers to London manufacturers. Sustainability is on the agenda with various fun initiatives looking at reduction and re-use. Elsewhere, a new show joining the ranks, Designersblock: illustrate, will occupy 4650m2 in Highbury Studios next to the Emirates Stadium in Holloway. On offer are diverse installations, short film animations, Web and graphic work, and live art performances.
Travel from east to central via Clerkenwell for the 5×5 exhibition of furniture by five international designers communicating the visions of Zeus, Montis, e15, Driade and MDF Italia at Viaduct’s showroom. Twentytwentyone will showcase Bags of Goodwill at its warehouse showroom where 40 leading designers, including Kenneth Grange, Ross Lovegrove, Shin Azumi, El Ultimo Grito and Marcel Wanders, have created a design for a blank organic cotton bag. The highly personalised results reflect thoughts on sustainability, functionality or the designer’s own work and philosophies. The bags will be auctioned to raise funds for the Fairtrade Foundation.
A stunning space in the Piazza at Covent Garden will host the first Casa Décor Loft exhibition in London, working with architects to transform entire buildings into domestic spaces. Alongside this will be conceptual projects by MA students from Goldsmiths University, artistically adorned album covers by musicians and celebrities for Art Vinyl, and new glass furniture from Smirk.
Liberty questions our definition of luxury with Trash Luxe, an exhibition curated by Marcus Fairs that celebrates objects crafted from salvaged materials. Designer Hector Serrano will curate an exhibition to reflect the vibrancy of Spanish design with new innovative work from ten Spanish designers at Noel Hennessy, while the owner of Mint, Lina Kanafani, pulls together her exclusive global design finds from the likes of Michele de Lucchi, Voon Wong & Benson Saw, and Maxim Velkovsky, as well as new graduates in her Freehand exhibition.
Established & Sons intends to provoke, clarify or confuse the design/art debate with its Elevating Design exhibition where it will reproduce some of its volume production designs as one-offs in luxurious carrara marble and display them out of arms’ reach on 6mhigh plinths, questioning the value and purpose of the original versus the reworked.
Brompton Design District
Brompton Estates and local institutions have initiated the Brompton Design District, embracing design as a way of reinvigorating the cultural and commercial value of the area. Shoreditch beware – SW3 introduces ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘wealth’ into the same sentence with new collections from Benchmark and B&B Italia; hand-crafted vases by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza Home; installations by six international designers selected by the British Council in its New World exhibition; and contemporary Indian design at The Conran Shop. The Freehand exhibition from Mint continues in a temporary location; Rabih Hage showcases Trans Forms, the technologically advanced furniture and lighting of innovative Israeli product designer Assa Ashuach, and ex-Design Museum curator Libby Sellers launches her gallery with new commissions by Stuart Haygarth, Moritz Waldemeyer, Julia Lohmann and Peter Marigold. The Gradual exhibition of new work from past Royal College of Art design graduates will be curated by Martino Gamper, and Skandium launches its new store of Scandinavian design treasures. Exhausted? You will be.