The major projects at this year’s London Design Festival

With some of the major projects of this year’s London Design Festival unveiled, an initial theme seems to be developing of responsive works – responsive to their environment, responsive to London, or responsive to society as a whole.

Be Open Sound Portal, by Arup
Be Open Sound Portal, by Arup

So, for example, with the Be Open Sound Portal, which marks the LDF’s return to having a central project in Trafalgar Square following a hiatus last year, designer Arup has responded to the hustle and bustle of central London by creating a soundproof chamber, within which sound artworks can be played to (presumably) soothed visitors.

And Keiichi Matsuda takes an overtly responsive position with his Prism work, which will hang above the cupola in the entrance at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Matsuda describes the work as ‘like a giant faceted iceberg made from paper and hanging from the ceiling’.

Prism, by Keiichi Matsuda
Prism, by Keiichi Matsuda

The sculpture will play live data feeds exposing ‘unseen’ data flows around London, such as radio waves or phone signals. Matsuda says, ‘This is not a project about the politics of data visualisation, but rather an investigation into urban informatics and our relationship with data itself.

Oki Sato of Nendo, meanwhile, takes a more playful, less polemic approach with the Mimicry Chairs project, which will be installed throughout the V&A.

In this project, Sato will use chair installations to ‘react’ to their environment. So for example chairs will be piled up in a mimicked lift next to the lifts, will have ‘windows’ punched into them next to windows and (rather sweetly) small and large chairs will be paired with each other as mother and child in the family areas.

Mimicry Chairs, by Oki Sato of Nendo
Mimicry Chairs, by Oki Sato of Nendo

This year – as it marks its 10th anniversary – the LDF itself is taking a more campaigning approach with the establishment of the Global Design Forum, a one-day event taking place on 18 September which will see designers, business and public sector organisations brought together to create ‘mini-manifestos’ on the future of design to inform future forums.

There is, fortunately, still room at the LDF for design for beauty’s sake. One of the most intriguing-looking pieces is Rolf Sachs’ installation for the Henry Cole Grand Staircase at the V&A.

This will see drops of pigment fall from the top of the staircase into a tank of clear liquid, forming clouds of different colour.

Installation by Rolf Sachs
Installation by Rolf Sachs

The standout piece at last year’s LDF – John Pawson’s Perspectives – also saw the opening up of a previously inaccessible staircase, in Pawson’s case the Geometric Staircase at St Paul’s. Will Sachs’ installation carry on the trend to be the standout from this year?     

Elsewhere will be new feature Townhouse, which will see curator Jane Withers take over a Georgian house in Belgravia, and filling it with luxury brands, Cinimod working with Philips Studio on a series of light installations around South Kensington, and Established & Sons working with Jasper Morrison, Barber Osgerby, Konstantin Grcic and others to create a series of benches.

And in the most mouth-watering prospect, LDF director Ben Evans says the festival has teamed up with a host of London chocolatiers to create a series of designs in chocolate…

The London Design Festival runs from 14-23 September. For more information visit www.londondesignfestival.com                        

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.