The London Design Festival turns nine this year, and the citywide, nine-day event, which runs until September 25, is only getting bigger. Azure’s deputy editor, Catherine Osborne, is on the ground and recommends these sure-bet events to check out.
London Design Festival has taken over most of the city’s downtown core. Besides 100% Design, where 400 furniture, lighting and home accessory exhibitors fill the halls of the Earls Court convention centre (from September 22 to 25), hundreds of other extravagant displays are on view elsewhere around the city. Good luck to anyone attempting to take in all 280 events. Your best bet is to map out a route and don a sturdy pair of shoes. Here are 10 locales that are sure to impress.
1. Timber Wave by Amanda Levete Architects
This year’s festival hub, the Victoria & Albert Museum features a handful of top-notch designers having fun with one of Europe’s most magnificient buildings. At the entry is a spiral jetty-like made of oak timbers, by Amanda Levete. The 12-metre-tall installation can be read as a sign of more to come from the London architect, who recently won a commission to give the museum’s courtyard and underground extension a major, and much-needed, upgrade. September 17 to 25, Tue-Sat 10am-5:30pm
2. Industrial Revolution 2.0: How the Material World Will Newly Materialize
Inside the V&A, New York gallerist/curator Murray Moss has installed an exhibit that explores the farthest creative reaches of 3D printing. Each design, including a shell-like lamp created by Patrick Jouin, is manifested out of state-of-the-art laser and digital technology, and will be strategically placed to reference eight key pieces in the gallery’s art collection. September 17 to 25, Tue-Sat 10am-5:30pm
Korean-born artist Aamu Song premieres REDDRESS. The all-caps title is more than deserved: this striking installation, on display at York Hall in Bethanl Green, consists of a single red dress made from 550 metres of fabric. It will be worn by a series of artists delivering talks, its pocket-like folds providing the audience with sitting nooks. A shop selling “red designs” will also be on hand. September 22 to 25
4. Flock at Brompton Design District
A short walk from the V&A, the Brompton Design District is home to dozens of boutique shops putting out their finest. German-born, London-based Pia Wustenberg’s stunning glass, ceramic and wood Stacking vessels will be part of a group exhibit showcasing works by emerging female talents at The Garage. September 17 to 25, 10am – 6pm
At Drill Hall Depot, Danish manufacturers present pieces of all-white furniture – a gesture intended to keep visitors focused on the innovative details, craftsmanship and artistry of 38 prototype chairs. September 19 to 25, Mon-Fri 12-6pm, Sat & Sun 12:30-5pm
An astounding 40 product launches will happen under one roof at Tramshed. The event was a huge success last year, so it’s no surprise it’s back again and offering a mix of familiar names – among them Istanbul’s Autoban and Vancouver’s Bocci – along with new rising stars, like Mitab, an up-and-coming Stockholm studio. September 22 to25, Thurs-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm
At the Molteni & C showroom, Arik Levy reinterprets the Italian manufacturer’s Quake tables in 10 unexpected – and brilliantly compelling – ways. The idea for the project derives from Powers of Ten, Charles and Ray Eames‘s famous film exploring the relative scale of the universe in factors of 10. Arty-math aside, Levy’s interventions on these furniture pieces are exquisite. The manufacturer is also launching a new line by the Paris designer called At Home with Arik Levy. September 17 to 24, Mon-Wed & Fri 10am-8pm, Thurs 10am-5pm
After visiting Toogood’s stunning exhibition at last year’s festival – where her inaugural line of furniture was on display along with exotic field mushrooms – we put her on the cover of our March 2011 issue. Toogood is among Britain’s top stylists and is known for her quirky sensibilities (recently, she installed a punting pond on the top of Selfridges). Her third line of furniture launches at Phillips de Pury & Company. September 16 to 4 October 4, Mon-Sun 10am-6pm.
Tom Dixon is a regular fixture during the festival, and this year is no different. At The Dock, his permanent showroom, store and workspace, he’s showing Bulb Chandelier, a log-shaped cluster of silver floodlights. Other intriguing products including Jaime Hayón’s Metropolis, a series of vases, lamps and boxes shaped like iconic buildings and produced by Spanish porcelain brand Lladró. This store-cum-café cum hangout spot is full of other small kiosks selling endlessly interesting objects. Give yourself at least an hour to take it all in.
Libby Sellers, former curator at London’s Design Museum, has been a rogue curator of cutting-edge designers for the past few years. This time around, she’s laying down roots with the opening of a permanent gallery space on Berners Street, and the inaugural exhibit is by Eindhoven-based design team Studio Formafantasma, featured in this month’s issue of Azure. September 19 to October 8