Things to see and do at London Design Festival 2020

As the festival returns to the capital in both online and offline forms, Design Weeks picks the best of the line-up from talks to year-long installations.


The Hothouse, Redman Place

Installations are few and far between this year at LDF, though the two most prominent will hopefully provide some much-needed inspiration for visitors. Studio Weave’s year-long installation will bring warmer climes to east London’s Redman Place in the form of The Hothouse. The structure has been inspired by a Victorian glasshouse and has been designed by the architectural practice, who have worked with garden designer Tom Massey. In a year where international travel has been stifled, this might be a good chance to catch a glimpse of the exotic and unusual.

The Hothouse render

Unity, Coal Drops Yard

French designer Marlene Huissoud has created a very on-trend installation which requires people to stand 2m apart in a circle. Using foot pumps, visitors will be able to “breathe life into the piece” as it inflates into something that is “growing, dancing, breathing”. Expect something eye-catching and ready-to-share on social media.


Focus:20, Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour

Another recalibrated format for LDF 2020 is the Design Centre, which will provide a platform for 120 international showrooms to present new collections. There will be a virtual launch on 13 September, while trade professionals can visit the following week. An online programme aims to reach a wider audience throughout the week, and there will be accompanying talks.

For more information, please visit the website.

Design Trails

As part of the Peckham Design Trail, OOOD will be opening the doors to its South London studio and showing the process behind its metalwork and furniture manufacturing. The behind-the-scenes access also includes exhibitions from local craftspeople and the opportunity to see van conversions (perfect for a staycation). Nearby, Bleinheim Forge meanwhile will be using their workshop to teach people about the entire process of creating a knige, from raw steel to a finished blade.

There are more workshops on the William Morris Design Trail which weaves through Walthamstow. That includes industrial designer Liang-Jung Chen who will be teaching people to repurpose hardware at the Blackhorse Workshop. Other highlights include the Extinction Revellion Art Group who will be exploring the connection between William Morris’ “community and craft-based principles” and modern day activism.

Follow the links for full programmes for the Peckham Design Trail and the William Morris Design Trail.


Connected: Made Together Apart, The Design Museum

Over the summer, nine designers were tasked with creating a table that would be suited for homes as many adapt to working from home. This September is the first chance to see the results from the brief at the Design Museum. It’s also the first time the designers will be seeing their creations, as the process has been done remotely in collaboration with Benchmark Furniture. Sustainable American hardwoods have been used. Could it be a new way to collaborate? You can see for yourself at the London exhibition space.

10 September — 11 October 2020. For full details, please visit the website.


System Redesign: In conversation with Ben Terrett

Public Digital CEO Ben Terrett — who led the design of GOV.UK — will talk about “radically changing how your organisation works”. These trends have been a long time coming, but the pandemic has accelerated them. Expect top tips on adapting to the internet era.

14 September, 1:30pm

Materials, by the Circular Design Project by SAP, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and LDF

An all-star panel featuring Neri Oxman and Paola Antonelli will discuss the world’s circular economy and how materials can help shape a waste-free future.

16 September, 4pm

State of Mind: The Intersection of Design and Mental Health

2020 has been a difficult year, presenting unique challenges for our mental health. This panel — which includes Centre of Urban Design and Mental Health director Layla McCay — will explore how health and wellbeing can be integrated into design and how designers themselves can protect their own wellbeing.

16 September, 6pm

Adaptive Design for the Next Audience

It will be hard to escape talk of coronavirus at the festival, though creatives seem to be focusing on adapting rather than doom and gloom. Designers from Stufish — who brand themselves as “entertainment architects” — will discuss a pressing issue: how can we rethink existing venues for the new normal?

18 September, 1:30pm

Talks are free and take place online. However visitors will need to register. Follow the link for a full programme of talks and registration details.

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