London Design Festival preview: the V&A

Once again forming the majestic hub of London Design Festival, the V&A is hosting a series of installations, talks, events, and in a new turn for 2014, film.

Double Space for BMW - Poetry in Motion, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
Double Space for BMW – Poetry in Motion, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Over the years the Kensington-based design titan of a venue has housed some breath-taking pieces including the equally relaxing and exhausting Bouroullec Brothers’ Textile Field installation in 2011, which saw grown-ups cast aside their shoes and inhibitions to roll about on it.

In 2012, another piece that used scale and awe to wow visitors was the beautiful Prism installation by Keiichi Matsuda.

For the 2014 edition, however, it’ll be Barber Osgerby providing the ‘ahhs’ in the installations stakes.

Their kinetic piece in the Raphael Galleries is a collaboration with BMW (named Double Space for BMW), and will see two moving reflective sculptures suspended in the centre of the gallery. As the mirrors move, the Raphael Cartoons in the space will distort – along with the images of the viewers, and the sense of space in the room itself. It’ll no doubt be a sort of Instagram-magnet – the new Martin Creed balloons, and reminds us of Olafur Eliasson’s Tate Modern Turbine Hall installation The Weather Project, in which viewers delighted in viewing their own image elevated above them.

1984 cover design by David Pearson
1984 cover design by David Pearson

This year’s LDF sees the return of Graphics Weekend at the V&A, which debuted last year. Here at Design Week we’ve worked with the V&A to organise the two-day programme of talks and events, which features speakers including Paula Scher, Irma Boom, Jim Sutherland and David Pearson, who will discuss his cover designs for Penguin with the publisher’s art director Jim Stoddart.

Hide and Eek book by Jim Sutherland
Hide and Eek book by Jim Sutherland

You can buy tickets for Scher and Boom’s talks here and here.

Paula Scher
Paula Scher

Design Week editor Angus Montgomery will be hosting a panel session each day over the weekend, with the Saturday session focussing on how to break into the design industry and with illustrator Gordon Reid, designer Jack Renwick and Magpie co-founder Ben Christie.

Sunday sees illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen, SomeOne co-founder Gary Holt and 1977 Design co-founder Paul Bailey chatting about how to run a design business.

Meanwhile, Design Week columnist Jon Daniel will present a Four Corners session, and Sarah Hyndman will be hosting a Type Tasting experiment. Details and timings can be found on the LDF website

Type Tasting materials
Type Tasting materials

We’re very excited about the introduction of film to this year’s LDF, especially as Design Week favourite David Lynch’s  Lost Highway will be  screened after a discussion of the design and architectural elements of the movie. Tickets for that event are available here.

Other films being screened and dissected under a design-focussed lens are CGI-packed blast Speed Racer and Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Alongside Barber Osgerby’s piece, other V&A installations will include Zaha Hadid’s Crest, commissioned by Melia Hotels International. The sculpture will form a sort of bridge across the pool in the centre of the V&A’s John Madejski Garden – the space that was meant to house the now-shelved Drone Aviary, which was apparently dropped over worries about safety.

Of all the men in design, we imagine Terence Conran is one of the ones most likely to have his wishes granted, and he’s put this to the test in his V&A-based project, Wish List. Conran’s collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has seen him invite ten established designers work with ten emerging ones to make a piece for their mentors that they’ve ‘always wanted but never been able to find’.

Norie Matsumoto has designed this pencil sharpener for Norman Foster
Norie Matsumoto has designed this pencil sharpener for Norman Foster

These include a Sebastian Cox-designed workspace for Terence Conran himself, while Norie Matsumoto has created ‘the perfect pencil sharpener’ for Norman Foster. Amanda Levete requested an ‘extendable fruit or cheese bowl’ design from her wish-granter, Win Assakul.

Win Assakul for Amanda Levete
Win Assakul for Amanda Levete

A rather colourful welcome to the V&A will be made to visitors using the tunnel entrance thanks to David David’s Carousel Wall. The 50m2 mural is formed from ceramic panels (thanks, Johnson Tiles!), and uses lovely colourful forms inspired by Islamic geometrics.

Michael Anastassiades has also looked eastward for his lighting piece Ama. The installation – a collaboration with Flos – is ‘reminiscent of a delicate band of pearls’, we’re told.

The V&A says, ‘The piece is a tribute to the generations of female Japanese divers who made their living diving in dangerous conditions, free-diving some 30 feet down to the ocean’s bed to harvest pearls, shells, seaweed, oysters and abalone.’

Other V&A highlights look set to be the Candela installation in the Tapestry gallery, by a  a multi-disciplinary design team which includes product designer Felix de Pass, graphic designer Michael Montgomery and ceramicist Ian McIntyre. The piece takes advantage of the space’s darkness, and draws its name from the very thing it uses to counteract the gloom – ‘a unit of luminous intensity’. Candela uses a clock-face-like interface formed from a 60-armature rotary machine. As the arms spin round, each unit charges with a brief burst of light that gradually fades away again

London Design Festival events will be at the Victoria and Albert Museum, from 13-21 September. For more information visit http://www.londondesignfestival.com/va-museum

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