The illustrious London Design Festival will transform spaces across the city, from majestic palaces to intimate restaurants and galleries. Here are the 10 hottest tickets for the full run, from September 19 to 27.
1 The Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A is Louvre-like in its ability to enchant, corridor after corridor. To help you explore, Faye Toogood has made 150 coats from Kvadrat’s Highfield fabric, and lined them with maps to the various rooms where she’s installed sculptural garments to complement the exhibits (above). You can check one out and wear it throughout your tour. You’ll also want to take in Barnaby Barford’s six-metre-tall Tower of Babel, pieced together with 3,000 bone-china storefronts – some of the boutiques are derelict, others swish. The soaring, sparkling Zotem monolith, designed by Kim Thomé with Swarovski, will occupy the foyer; meanwhile, in the back courtyard, Frida Escobedo’s mirrored platforms are on view until October 3rd (top of page).
2 Somerset House
New management and a new mandate have pushed this 300-year-old Thames-side palace to the foreground of the festival. On top of the nearly 250 artists and makers in permanent residence, the venue has loaned 10 of its newly renovated rooms to 10 London designers at the top of their game. Arik Levy has collaborated with Turkish architects Tabanlıoğlu on otherworldly lighting and slick metallic furnishings that contrast wet and dry, light and solid, warm and cold (left). And Alex Rasmussen has transformed the floor into a giant wave of 700 azure-blue aluminum panels. Elsewhere, the resourceful British designer Max Lamb unveils My Grandfather’s Tree, a series of stools, tables and chairs hewn from an ailing ash felled at his grandfather’s Yorkshire farm – with the growth rings still visible (right).
3 Tent London
Prototypes, experiments and craft are the raison d’etre of this growing event hosted in a defunct East End brewery. To champion the latter, craft councils from across the UK have partnered with Etsy on a marketplace of 50 regional makers. Glasswork by Northern Ireland’s Alison Lowry, furniture by England’s TedWood (bottom) and ceramics by Scotland’s Gavin Burnett are among the items for sale. Next door, Tent welcomes 100% Norway, highlighting the truly unusual and innovative design coming out of this oft-overshadowed Scandinavian nation. Stackable stools by Gridy and Andreas Bergsaker’s birch accessories will make you look – and think – twice.
Art director Anna Murray and product designer Grace Winteringham established Patternity as a research studio, studying the evolution and effects of pattern and lending themselves out to brands looking to diversify with arresting, fashion-forward designs. This week, they’ve co-opted a space on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch to launch both their first book and the week-long “festival of pattern.” Over at Somerset House, meanwhile, they’ve designed an immersive installation in which they’ll showcase a new range of 10 party invitations produced by Paperless Post.
5 Michael Anastassiades at Aram
The current rage for simple lines, geometric shapes and industrial metallics has much to do with the work of Michael Anastassiades, who distills complex concepts and technology into functional art at his South London studio. He reveals his latest lighting range – minimalist mobiles and radiant globes on inflexible iron rods – in the third-floor gallery of Aram, one of London’s longest-operating retailers of contemporary furniture.
6 41: A House for London
The Building Centre is part resource library, part support centre and part design gallery, with a scale model of London in the lobby. During the festival, its front garden plays home to A House for London, a converted shipping container made from an advanced form of niobium (atomic number 41). The container houses an adaptable living space as a response to the housing crisis – as desperate in London as anywhere else. It’s a collaboration between Carl Turner Architects, the niobium supplier CBMM and Arup, whose European headquarters are down the road.
7 Ariane Prin: Rust
London-based French designer Ariane Prin creates using environmental materials like river clay, site-specific waste, and even wind. For her first collection of housewares, debuting at Herrick Gallery in Shoreditch, she’s washed plaster and Jesmonite surfaces with a “rust” of metal dust collected from key-cutters. Each piece is about three days in the making and totally unique, the oxidation lending a distinctive texture and colour.
8 Fredrikson Stallard: Momentum
The team of Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard produces monolithic, eye-tricking design that’s collected – and priced – like art. Their studio and home in a former Clerkenwell brass foundry is like a rabbit hole in antique brick, furnished with outlandish functional sculptures. And this year, their 10th as partners, they’ve agreed to open it to the public. Momentum features one-offs and experiments in stone, metal and glass – and offers a chance to chat with the designers in-house.
9 Sé by Nika Zupanc
The Slovanian designer Nika Zupanc furnishes a corner of London’s plushest restaurant, Sketch, with her Hollywood-inspired collection for Sé. The slim, sensual Collection III blends in tremendously with Sketch’s romantic pink-velvet dining room and dramatic cocktail bar. On Wednesday, 23 September, the designer will host Italian gallerist Rossana Orlandi in the red-velvet Parlour.
The 250-year-old wool mill Hainsworth is staying relevant with a new collaboration with the London design studio Gabbertas. Mark Gabbertas has edited down his most recent designs and pored over the Hainsworth catalogue to transform them in look and feel. The launch is at Kensington vintners The Sampler.