London Design Festival preview – East London

Galvanised by Tent and Superbrands, as well as untold small exhibitions and events, you’d be a fool not to head east this LDF.

Tent and Superbrands
Tent and Superbrands

Tent London runs from 20 – 23 September in the cavernous Old Truman Brewery near Brick Lane. This year’s event features five feature installations by architects, artists and curators that will run across Tent and sister event Superbrands, which launched last year.

The installations include System Design Studio’s Cell Cloud piece; the fun-sounding Foam Party by Martijn Rigters, which uses visitors’ bottoms  to form a made-to-measure foam seat in 30 seconds ; NEON’s B&O playhouse for Bang & Olufsen and  ‘inflatable hiding place’ Cozy Shelter by Lambert Kamps, which looks like a massive sandbag fortress.

Foam Party, by Martijn Rigters
Foam Party, by Martijn Rigters

Another new addition for this year’s Tent is Global Color Research’s Trend Trail. The colour trend forecasters will be creating a trail that snakes through the halls of the show, with four different walls, each dedicated to a different design sector. The focus is the colour green.

The rather exciting-sounding Arcade Shooting Gallery will make its Tent debut thanks to new exhibitor, Incognito. The arcade-style Shooting Gallery will be created to showcase the BANG! desk lamp by Taiwanese design studio Bitplay, which lets you literally shoot out the lights from up to 50 feet away.

‘Super contemporary craft’ show, The Craft Market makes its debut this year at Tent, bringing together over 30 independent makers in glass, jewellery, ceramics, textiles and metalwork.

Several Country Pavilions will be dotted about throughout Tent to allow other countries to show off their nation’s design identity.

Highlights from 100% Norway include the  L/Lamp by Sylvia Holthen and Birgitte Due Madsen, using unglazed porcelain to encapsulate the energy saving light bulb to create a warmer-looking light; and Lars Beller Fjetland’s debut show of Re-turned, a collection of small, recycled and reclaimed wooden birds.

Others to look out for are Look – Love – Keep In Mind: Here Comes Hungarian Design, showcasing 12 Hungarian designers; and Mashiko Pottery from the Mashiko region in Japan.

For home-grown design talent, Design Event will be featuring 11 northern designers with over 16 products from designers based in the North of England. Some of our favourites are this precarious-looking Bubble Tank by Psalt Design, which takes inspiration from distortion and illusion; and Bettina Nissen Design’s cute Blurb Coat Rack.

Bubble Tank fish bowl, by Psalt
Bubble Tank fish bowl, by Psalt

Superbrands, Tent’s flashy sibling, also runs from 20 – 23 September, featuring exclusively established global design brands. The event will now share an entrance with Tent, with Superbrands on the ground and Tent on the first floor of the space.

Brands exhibiting include Allermuir, Diesel with Foscarini, Moroso, Republic of Fritz Hansen and  Van Rossum.

As well as the installations mentioned previously, another show highlight looks set to be the Whiter Than White curated show formed by a collaboration between London-based Materials Council and Architonic.  According to organisers, ‘The installation will explore of the pursuit of ‘whiteness’ in the built environment, investigating what makes a material white and the concessions that must be made by designers in the face of practical, economic and environmental constraints.’

The east end ‘Design Hub’ this year is the Andaz Hotel on Liverpool Street, which will be showing a series of installations and events including a holographic representation and portal connection to the Veuve Clicquot Prism installation at the V&A.

One of the smaller shows worth visiting is Gallery Fumi on Hoxton Square with the Prostheses and Innest show by Marcio Kogan. The collection of works were created by construction workers of Kogan’s building sites and then reinterpreted by the Brazilian architecture studio.

Part of the Prostheses series
Part of the Prostheses show at Gallery Fumi

We’re also rather excited by the new show by Dominic Wilcox, Variations on Normal, at Hoxton Square gallery KK Outlet.  At the show, Wilcox will launch his first book of invention drawings and will be showcasing a new project – the GPS show that ensure you’ll never get lost. Of course.  Past projects and  a personal collection of ‘weird and wonderful oddities’ will also be on show.

Following the nightclub-esque decadence of Lee Broom’s show at last year’s LDF, this year will see designer  transform his studio into the ‘Crystal Bulb Shop.’ It will take on the look of an old-fashioned general store, with a sawdust floor, mahogany counter and a shopkeeper. Mirrored panelling will reflect more than 200 of Broom’s Crystal Bulbs suspended from the ceiling.

The beautiful Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is holding a ceramics selling fair with works from 50 potters, and will be running workshops for children and free demonstrations over the weekend of 21 – 23 September.

Porcelain vessel by Tony Laverick at the Geffrye Museum
Porcelain vessel by Tony Laverick at the Geffrye Museum

LDF favourites Kvadrat, the Danish textile company that helped create the stunning Bouroullec Brothers V&A commission last year, has commissioned curators Tord Boontje, Ilse Crawford, Jeffrey Bernett, Constance Rubini, Hans Maier-Aichen and Andre Fu to select global design talents to create works using the fabric. Works by Simon Hasan, Raw Edges, Doshi Levien and Fredrikson Stallard will be on display at the Kvadrat store on Shepherdess Walk.

On 21 and 22 September, Graphic Birdwatching, the organisation that celebrates the work of female creatives, will be opening the doors of 10 east London studios, as well as holding an exhibition at its main venue, the 71A Gallery on Leonard Street.

The theme for the main exhibition is Proportion, and it will feature work from designers including Kate Scalter, Elaine Hennessy, Anna Meyer and Aoife Mooney. A map has been created to guide visitors around the studios, which include those of LBN Design, Emily Forgot and Emma Williams. For more information visit

Over at Luna & Curious on Calvert Street, The Drawing Room, an exhibition of illustrations based on everyday objects will be on display throughout LDF, featuring work form illustrators including Jess Wilson, Adam Ellison, Emily Robertson and Rosie Cunningham.

For the best in Clerkenwell has information on Creative Clerkenwell’s Makers in Residence programme, including tours, studio visits, and workshops with UK based designers and makers from the area.

The late night opening night for east London takes place on 21 September. London Design Festival runs  from 14 -23 September.  For more information visit

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