Editor’s blog

Those based out of London may be sick of hearing about the London Design Festival. But while we acknowledge other events are taking place outside the capital – not least the Liverpool Biennial – the LDF is an international event and so offers a snapshot of trends beyond the city’s confines.

One of the strongest to emerge this year was the hunger for making things among visitors of all ages and a desire to meet to debate the issues of the day. It’s been brewing for some time – note, for example, the tendency Design Week has been tracking for some time towards hand-drawing among type designers and illustrators, with hand-stitching also now firmly in their repertoire.

Digital production has opened up new opportunities for 3D designers and makers, but it has curtailed the pleasures of hand-modelling. Meanwhile, creative heads bemoan the decline in drawing classes in colleges and express concerns about the impact this could have on design quality. But many LDF events showed these skills aren’t lost and a passion to pursue them remains.

You might expect traditional craft skills to be part of the Anti Design Festival with its mission to revisit the culture of risk and experimentation. Low-tech prototypes by the Fabrats, the wonderfully off-beat ideas generated and realised by Dominic Wilcox and Jon Wozencroft’s hand-painted film workshops were prime examples. There was French collective Bazooka’s first London show at the nearby Aubin Gallery, blending painting and drawing styles, and a subversive graphics show curated by artist Stuart Semple at the Idea Generation Gallery.

But these events were tempered by a liberal dose of newer technologies – not least the  /ADF website (embed address?) set up to continue the debates raised at the ADF. And this mixed media aproach was apparent elsewhere in the LDF.

Lego buildings at the inaugural Creative Review tweetup
Lego buildings at the inaugural Creative Review tweetup

Among the most successful was the Tweetup hosted by Creative Review at the Design Museum. As the title suggests, this was social media-based, but Lego got involved and the building workshops that resulted proved hugely popular.

But making wasn’t just a feature of fringe shows like Tweetup. At exhibition complex Earl’s Court 2 visitors to 100% Design were invited to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. Economic constraints may have reduced 100% Design to little more than a trade show, but the Materials element grew in stature this year by allowing folk to get involved . Its legacy includes chewing gum mini-models made by visitors and various other experiments, making it the most frequented hub of 100% Design.

Etch collection, a digitally manufactured brass pendant light and candle-holder. Inspired by the logic of pure maths, Etch is made using an industrial process that allows for intricate patterns to be cut directly onto the metal. For London Design Festival, Etch is being made and sold from an assembly line as part of a live Flash Factory inside the Tom Dixon Shop.

Tom Dixon meanwhile opened up his workshop to visitors to The Dock and some speakers at the Tramshed in Shoreditch focused a bit on the process behind the designs.

It’s great to see such diversity of creative expression in the space of a week. It shows design has moved beyond the slickness once seen as the sole embodiment of good design – though it is happily still there in the well-mannered work of Jasper Morrison, Matthew Hilton, Tom Dixon, Pearson Lloyd and others – to embrace different media. The joy is that while digital design is a key element, it isn’t the only force behind this eclectic shift.

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • Magga Skuladottir November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Sorry, but the Anti Design festival was boring and un-engaging at best. All shock value and little thought. Maybe this is what happens when you have people rebelling against something they don’t really understand (i.e. artists rebelling against design, instead of designers) but it really seemed like the point was totally missed.

  • Deena DeNaro-Bickerstaffe November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Sorry but, in this country there is too much cheer-leading of mediocre efforts simply because a big name has put it forth. I agree that Hel Yes! was a lovely experience (and am much saddened to hear that this space will be lost to similar experiences in the future) and that Outrace was an elaborate exercise in banality, but I don’t agree with you that ADF was at all the groundbreaking, much needed corrective to all those swanky showrooms with their exclusive champagne receptions.
    Quite frankly, except for a few deeply hidden gems, the ADF message was smothered by it’s agitprop aesthetic. Artwork with actual thoughts and statements seemed to me relegated behind pieces and performances whose only value was shock value. Is a penis made up of broken records, or a painting incorporating all the conjugations of the word f**k really revolutionary? All ADF have done here is replace the pretty pictures that Harry Malt refers to in the ADF brochure with pictures intended to shock, and the tiredness of them all fails at even that. There are plenty of designers and artists who have something thought-provoking to say in a non-conventional manner that should have been exhibited at the fore instead of buried inside relic computers or desk drawers. Promoting this thought-provoking work should really be the aim of a festival that claims to be anti-design, instead of going for the obvious cheap shot.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles