London Design Festival preview – west London

Alongside interiors behemoths 100% Design, Decorex and Chelsea Harbour’s Focus 13 west London has much to offer during LDF at its less gargantuan offers.

Shell stools by Jake Phipps at Heals
Shell stools by Jake Phipps at Heals

The ‘W’ postcodes are broadly split into three main districts: Brompton Design District, which surrounds the V&A (more on what’s going on there here LINK); Chelsea Design Quarter, which takes in King¹s Road, Lots Road and Imperial Wharf, and Fitzrovia Now.

Highlights in Brompton include David Mellor Design’s 100 Years of Stainless Steel, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the omnipresent material’s invention in Sheffield.

Habitat Graphic Africa
Habitat Graphic Africa

We’re looking forward to seeing Habitat’s Graphic Africa show at the brand’s Platform space on King’s Road, which features work by 16 designers from 10 countries in East, West and Southern Africa for Design Network Africa, all drawing on contemporary interpretations of African patterns.

Down the road in Kensington, Vessel Gallery is showing a lovely new lighting collection by Odd Matter, formed from copper plating and stained glass panels in shades of ruby, amber and mother of pearl.

A stone’s throw from the V&A on Exhibition Road’s Polish Hearth Club, Young Creative Poland will be showing its 4 Years On exhibition – a showcase of contemporary Polish design featuring a pop-up shop and restaurant serving Polish food.

Rachel Cox's Tessella Plates at the RCA
Rachel Cox’s Tessella Plates at the RCA

Over in Notting Hill’s Flow Gallery, the Royal College of Art will show food-inspired pieces at its imaginatively-titled Art Food. The exhibition presents a series of tableware designs by students on the Ceramics & Glass programme in collaboration with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, School of Form, Poland and Polish heritage manufacturer, Cmielow Porcelain. Designs include an Amuse Bouche plate inspired by a drop of milk; geometric pieces that combine classical shapes with rapid prototyping technology and inter-connecting plates that form different patterns for the table.

The RCA’s Battersea campus will be hosting three exhibitions – Life Examined, the annual presentation of design projects that aims to improve people’s daily lives by the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates; Mind the Gap, which looks at the challenges facing modern urban transportation hubs and Lazy Bytes, which examines the links between our bodies and the digital realm.

The college’s Kensington campus will be showing the results of the SustainRCA initiative, which encourages students to work sustainably.

Fortnum and Mason Letterpress
Fortnum and Mason Letterpress

Taking cues from the V&A, department store Fortnum & Mason will host a series of in-store demonstrations and events by The Society Of Revisionist Typographers, who will be recreating their Cockpit Arts’ letterpress workshop to mark the launch of the store’s new stationery department.  Visitors will be given the chance to have a bash at letterpress printing.

The department store also crops up at Skandium’s Marylebone store, where the Artek Today exhibition will celebrate when Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto’s furniture was introduced to the UK through an exhibition at Fortnum & Mason in 1933.

Jacopo Sarzi's ice-cream maker at Design Exquis
Jacopo Sarzi’s ice-cream maker at Design Exquis

Further west in SW6, the Roca Gallery is showing the products of an elaborate game of design Chinese Whispers at its Design Exquis exhibition.

Among the talks and events taking place throughout the Chelsea Design Quarter during LDF are panel discussions on interiors and fashion at The Rug Company on King’s Road, a talk by French decorator Jean Louis Deniot on his new furniture collection for George Smith and a talk by Bethan Gray on designing with natural materials at Lapicida.

The Fitzrovia Now area comprises the streets nestling behind busy Oxford Street. As well as design showrooms and stores, the area prides itself on its design-led cafes and restaurants, as well as its rich cultural heritage that takes in Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set and, according to Fitzrovia Now, even Lady Gaga and Guy Ritchie, who it says have bagged houses in the area.

That aside, there’s a huge amount going on there during LDF away from the Designjuntion destination.

OverNight at Vessel Gallery
OverNight at Vessel Gallery

Domus on Great Portland Street will be showing its exhibition A Doll’s House. Conceived by developers Cathedral Group, a series of dolls’ houses by artists and architects including Zaha Hadid and David Adjaye will be on show, and the pieces will go on to be auctioned off in November for the charity KIDS.

Italian kitchen company Valcucine is using LDF to launch its new showroom floor at Forza; while design store EDC on Margaret Street is showing work from its own team and emerging designers at its exhibition How We Make Furniture, which documents the design process from concept through to finished product.

Another designer keen to show what goes on behind the scenes is Sebastian Bergne, who is opening his studio on Ingate Place, SW8, to the public for five mornings during the festival. Work for Luceplan, Tolix, Verrerie St-Just and Kent brushes will be on show alongside past projects, personal editions and ephemera.

Copper Mirrors at Gallery Libby Sellers
Copper Mirrors at Gallery Libby Sellers

Gallery Libby Sellers, on Berners Street, is showing a beautiful new range of copper mirrors, by design duo Hunting & Narud.

Nearby, designer Matthew Hilton is to launch his first watch design at the Margaret Howell Store and the Boffi Showroom will be open, both on Wigmore Street.

Heals Sideboard and Desk by Sebastian Cox
Heals Sideboard and Desk by Sebastian Cox

Heals’ Tottenham Court Road flagship will be used to fully launch its new branding, created by The Grid, which was first unveiled in July on press materials. The store itself has been given a revamp, featuring the installation of a 64-arm Bocci chandelier suspended through the store’s 1916 Cecil Brewer staircase. Collaborations with designers such as Lee Broom, Katie Walker, Jake Phipps and John Galvin will be on display.

Drury Lane’s Aram Gallery will present work from Design Week’s own Rising Star Award recipient Bethan Laura Wood, who is showing her characteristically colourful exhibition Zigzag:Crisscross. The works are inspired by the urban environments of London and Mexico City.

The space will also be showing Antecedents, an exhibition of prototypes and sketches from designer Benjamin Hubert. Viewers will be treated to an insight in creating products manufactured by ClassiCon, De La Espada, Moroso and Menu.

Wonderland at 19 Greek Street
Wonderland at 19 Greek Street

Down at 19 Greek Street, some super cute robots are making their LDF debut at the Wonderland show, where 18 pieces by 12 designers will be on show in – we’re promised – a ‘playground for courageous free thinkers’. The venue is also hosting the official launch of Re-Imagined by Nina Tolstrup and Architecture Re-imagined, a collaboration with Kvadrat and Werner Aisslinger.

London Design Festival takes place from 14 – 22 September. For more information visit

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