A new venue, a new district and a host of established and emerging designers are part of this year’s line-up
The design sector is doing its part to temper the British capital’s geographical rivalries with the inclusion in this year’s London Design Festival programme of the first design district south of the Thames.
Since Tate Modern opened in 2000, the South Bank has transformed into a creative hub, and Bankside Design District will pull together the growing number of galleries and design practices on the stretch between Borough Market and the Oxo Tower – itself home to dozens of studios and exhibition spaces – as well as the Tom Dixon-designed Mondrian Hotel and nearby Jerwood Visual Arts centre. Part of the area’s offering during the September event is Colourful Crossings, for which three artists have transformed public spaces along Southwark Street with street furniture, a graphic display and a sound and light installation.
North of the river, Somerset House is another addition to LDF’s roster of venues, where ten designers, including Nendo, Faye Toogood and Ross Lovegrove, have each taken over a room inside to display their work.
As ever, the festival’s headquarters, the Victoria & Albert Museum, is hosting installations by major designers. Among these is Austrian design duo Mischer’Traxler’s Curiosity Cloud, an interactive hanging display of 250 mouth-blown glass globes that shelter moving and shimmering insect-like entities that react to movement. Architecture collective Assemble marks the centenary of the birth of acclaimed furniture designer Robin Day with an installation that celebrates his lesser-known interest in wood. Elsewhere, Faye Toogood has created a fabric installation entitled The Cloakroom. Visitors can wear one of several “artisan’s coats” inspired by the craftsmen who made objects on display at the V&A – clues in the pockets take them on a journey around the museum.
Two of the design fairs have this year moved location. The west London colossus 100% Design will take place in Kensington’s Olympia after the closure of its former venue, Earls Court. The installations and displays will this year focus on the predicted colour trends for 2016, and there will be talks by speakers such as Ilse Crawford. Designjunction has also moved, taking place this year across two venues: the former Central St Martins building in Holborn and nearby Victoria House. The event will feature brands such as Örsjö and Wrong for Hay, and a lifesize installation of an Underground station.
Over at the Islington Design District, Twentytwentyone is launching Hotaru, a collection of lighting by Barber and Osgerby made of bamboo wire and mulberry-bark paper using traditional Japanese methods. Furniture brand Sé is unveiling a collection by Nika Zupanc at Sketch in Mayfair, where the designer will participate in a conversation with gallerist Rossana Orlandi. At B&B Italia’s showroom, Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa is revealing his versatile Papilio Shell chair, while Moroso is reissuing designs by Doshi Levien and Patricia Urquiola in embroidered fabrics by Rubelli. Hem, launched last year by online retailer Fab and design brand One Nordic, is launching products by Luca Nichetto, Nendo, Max Lamb, Gamfratesi and Lara Beller Fjetland.
Among the most intriguing exhibitions this year is being held at the design schools. At the Royal College of Art, research project Family Rituals 2.0 considers how people working far from home can maintain domestic rituals, while across at Central St Martins recent graduates have responded to the title The Intelligent Optimist – a shift in tone from last year’s more pensive theme, Restless Futures. Over in Soho, 19 Greek Street’s six-floor townhouse is host The Art of Progress, an exhibition of ethical lifestyle products that aims to challenge the consumerism at the heart of much of design, which will also include a cafe, a curated apartment, a gallery and lecture room, and a wellness studio. Marjan van Aubel, interviewed in our upcoming issue, has replaced all the front-facing windows of the five-storey gallery with a version of her Current Windows.
Galerie Kreo is hosting French designer Pierre Charpin’s first London solo show, featuring his Marbles and Clowns series of vases, side tables and consoles. Another solo show is at Carpenters Workshop, where Atelier van Lieshout is showing bronze lamps and tables. Meanwhile, at their Holborn studio, design duo Fredrikson Stallard presents Momentum, a body of work that celebrates the importance of conceptual thinking in design.
Pick up a copy of our current issue for more detailed highlights of LDF, which takes place from 19-27 September