One of the biggest events of the fall season, the London Design Festival, running September 13 to 21, encompasses the entire city.
The festival includes everything from 100% Design at Earl’s Court, to dozens of off-site events, including Design Junction, the Brompton Design District, and a new collection launching at the Conran Shop. Here are our top picks for what to see and do.
1 Design Junction
Located in the industrial and gargantuan Sorting Office just off Oxford Street, Designjunction is the place to explore cool contemporary design and hang out with like-minded design aficionados in one of the countless pop-up bars and cafés. This year’s 180-plus participating brands include Modus, Innermost, Channels, Seletti, Utopia & Utility, and Ventura Lambrate’s first London outing featuring experimental, conceptual and emerging design.
The separate lighting show, Lightjunction, is going from strength to strength, too. French lighting innovator BlackBody will put on a pioneering OLED installation in the basement, and among the companies presenting new products are Artemide, Zero, Anglepoise, Cini & Nils, ÖRSJÖ and Marset. The seminar programme includes talks with Tom Dixon, Sir Kenneth Grange and Cristián Valdés, the Chilean architect of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. Sept 18-21. The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street
2 Design Hub at the Victoria & Albert Museum
The magnificent Victoria & Albert Museum hosts some of LDF’s most memorable installations and exhibitions amid its vast collections. This year is no exception. Must-sees include Wish List, a collaboration between Sir Terence Conran, his furniture brand Benchmark and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) that sees 10 London architects and designers, including John Pawson, Zaha Hadid and Amanda Levete, pair up with 10 emerging talents to create a piece of furniture or object they have always wanted but never been able to find (Hadid’s vases are shown here). Also worth tracking down is a room-filling kinetic sculpture by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby that dramatically reflects and distorts Raphael’s cartoons and the viewer’s perception of the space. Sept 13-21, Victoria & Albert Museum.
3 Zeev Aram talks about 50 years of design in London
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of legendary London design store Aram, its charismatic owner and founder, Zeev Aram, will be in conversation with journalist Edwin Heathcote. The talk will cover what it was like to open an innovative design emporium in post-war (and uninspiring) Britain during the 1950s, his keen eye for spotting young talent, and the amazing personalities he has met and supported over the years, most notably Eileen Gray. Sept 19, 1PM, Victoria & Albert Museum
4 Brompton Design District
Of all the design districts (and there seem to be more every year) Brompton is the most established and rewarding. The Conran Shop is showing a Best of British Craft and Design exhibition, while Skandium is showing 15 products from its own collection to mark its 15-year anniversary. Cassina on Brompton Road will show reissued designs by Charlotte Perriand and B&B Italia will showcase pieces by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and Doshi Levien.
Eclectic design store Mint is hosting the exhibition Elements of Craft, while various empty apartments and garages around the neighbourhood are hosting temporary shows such as the intriguing Austurland: Designs from Nowhere. Curated by Karna Sigurðardóttir and Pete Collard, it explores small-scale design and production in East Iceland, including a collection of small trains made from reindeer antlers, and weird and wonderful pieces by Max Lamb, Þórunn Árnadóttir and Julia Lohmann. Sept 13-21. Brompton Road and environs
5 Homes installation in Trafalgar Square
London’s Trafalgar Square – always the site of exceptional installations during LDF – will host A Place Like Home, featuring four pop-up homes by Jasper Morrison, Patternity, Raw Edges and Studioilse, each presenting a unique vision of what a dwelling can be. Morrison’s contribution is a minimalist pigeon fancier’s house (his rationale: who else would choose to live in the middle of Trafalgar Square?), while Raw Edges explores flexible interiors, Studioilse elevates everyday rituals, and Patternity, as their name suggests, highlight the significance of patterns. In collaboration with house-sharing and hospitality giant Airbnb. Sept 18 to 22. Trafalgar Square
6 New collection for Conran
For the first time ever the Conran Shop has commissioned designers to create pieces for them. Previewing during LDF, the full collection launches in October and features the latest by the likes of Russell Pinch and Magnus Long. For his part, Long contributes a series of intricately geometric and disarmingly delicate Carrara marble top tables and wooden chairs and bookshelves, many of them inspired by bamboo structures found in South East Asia. Sept 13-21. 55 Marylebone High Street and 81 Fulham Road
7 100% Design
In its 20th year, 100% Design is the grande dame of the London Design Festival, and pulls in almost 30,000 visitors each year, making it the biggest event of the week. To mark the anniversary, an exhibition entitled Design Kaleidoscope will show 20 products first launched at the fair. Along with the usual mix of the latest workplace, interiors and kitchens and bathrooms trends, a major focus will be on technology.
The Maker Carousel by multi-disciplinary design studio Mette will encourage experimentation and play through talks and activities using hands-on and high-tech methodologies such as paper prototyping, block-printing and 3D printing; and new products by Studio INTEGRATE explore how advanced digital fabrication methods can create a non-repetitive series of objects. Among the more novel international pavilions attending this year are Mexico and Pakistan. Sept 17-20, Earl’s Court
8 Design films in Clerkenwell
New for the Clerkenwell Design Quarter, the AND Film Festival will see many of the neighbourhood’s showrooms screen memorable and rarely seen films about architecture and design. These include the documentary Unfinished Spaces, about the radical 1961 National Art Schools in Havana, Cuba; 26 Bathrooms, by Peter Greenaway; and the trailer of Rem, Tomas Koolhaas’s ode to his father, architect Rem Koolhaas.
Sept 15-19, Clerkenwell, London.
9 Toilet Architecture
Not to be missed is a photographic exhibition dedicated to that most underrated and undervalued element of interior design – toilet architecture – on view at the London showroom of Japan’s leading sanitary ware producer, TOTO. As part of the event, Mark Dytham, co-founder of PechaKucha back in 2003, will host a talk on the significance of good toilet design. Speakers include Sam Jacob, the founding director of FAT Architecture; Philippa Turrell, editor of Kitchens and Bathrooms; and Barbara Penner, the author of Bathroom 2014 and a senior lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Exhibition Sept 15-21. TOTO London Showroom, 140 St John Street (PechaKucha Sept 16, 6:30pm).
10 Magical design at the Finnish Ambassador’s residence
London-based Finnish design company Klaus Haapaniemi launches new hand-crafted pieces, including brass and American walnut pendant lights, hand-printed Japanese ceramics, and a chair made in collaboration with sustainable Finnish wood company Nikari. Catch the new products at their store in Shoreditch, or at a two-day event in the historic and theatrical setting of the Finnish Ambassador’s Residence, located steps from Kensington Gardens. Sept 13-21, Klaus Haapaniemi, 81 Redchurch Street (Shoreditch), and Sept 18-19, Finnish Ambassador’s Residence, 14 Kensington Palace Gardens.
London Design Festival runs from September 13 to 21, 2014.