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London Design Festival 2017 Preview

9 September 2017 Will Rathbone

The 2017 London Design Festival is absolutely enormous, encompassing several huge trade fairs, nine Design Districts across London and a number of further installations and events throughout the city. There’s so much to explore: pick a trade show and wander amongst the stalls, or head to one of the Design Districts, grab a guide, and explore the wealth of free activities on offer. We’ve broken down our highlights from the festival to make it easier for you.

Design Destination Trade Fairs

There are five main trade fairs spread over the two weeks of London Design Festival. designjunction is the most accessible, with all four days open to the public, and showcases cutting-edge design labels alongside leading brands. 100% Design is the leading commercial fair, and only opens to the public on its final day. Decorex focuses on interior design, with a special display dedicated to the designers of the future; the entire event is open to the public. Focus/17 brings leading brands and tastemakers together to plan tomorrow’s luxury design trends, and opens to the public on the final three days, while the London Design Fair is a broad industry event with over 500 exhibitors from 31 countries. The public can visit on the final two days.

Installations and Pop-ups

Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room sees the V+A’s 35m long Prince Consort House filled with gorgeous coloured lights, reflective panels and LEDs, and the museum’s tapestry room hosts Transmission – an enormous, fluid sculpture made from synthetic new material Alcantara® by Ross Lovegrove. Villa Walala is a colourful building-block castle in Exchange Square that allows the public to de-stress and play, and Sam Jacob Studio’s MINI LIVING micro-house explores the future of urban living at the OXO Tower courtyard.


Flynn Talbot's Reflection Room 

Design Districts

In Bankside, the Low Line walk takes visitors through the venerable Victorian viaducts and railway arches dotted between Waterloo and Elephant and Castle, and the citizenM Secret Garden is a living installation inside a boutique hotel (check out their Estate Playground in Shoreditch too). Diversity and community are key themes in Brixton, where Untranslation celebrates language by highlighting words with no direct English translation, displayed among the iconic flags hanging on the rafters of Brixton Village and Market Row. Brixton Playing Fields is an outdoor installation where people of all ages can meet and devise their own games, and Reflections Brixton encourages passers by to take pictures in a twisted outdoor mirror, and share their warped reflections of reality online.


Ross Lovegrove's Transmission

Over in Brompton, The Conran Shop x It’s Nice That hosts a playful, story-driven private view with a difference. Type Tasting’s Font Selfie Workshop allows the public to pick a font, share a ‘selfie’ and find out what their font choice says about their personality, while Smallbone of Devizes, Deni-Deni and Grand Cuisine are hosting Meet the Maker masterclasses on furniture, leatherware and pasta-making respectively. Drink a coffee at the Brompton Café pop-up, with artisan baked goods from Today Bread. Down the road in Chelsea, explore the history of the highly decorative 17th century chinoiserie style at Guinevere – with examples of early Japanese and Chinese pieces alongside later European designs – or indulge in modern luxury design at the opening of a new Arteriors showroom at Chelsea Harbour.

In Clerkenwell, the Zaha Hadid Gallery presents designs from the late visionary architect’s practice, while The Glass Chain sees emerging duo Space Popular use abstract forms and digital printing to create a bold, bright glass landscape open for exploration. Show 15: Punctuating Space features work from emerging designers that punctuates space through form, colour and light, and Enlightened Design II sees several Dutch designers showcase lighting designs in the atmospheric surroundings of the St Pancras Church Crypt. Graduate designs from Kingston University can be seen at Graduated in Islington, and Cliptomania is a display looking at various designs of the humble clip – with over 150 examples to browse.


While We Wait Image Credit Elias and Yousef Anastas

Shoreditch sees a whole host of fascinating pop-ups. On Repeat looks at the creative benefits and powerful state of mind gained through repetition, while Breathing Space is an interactive installation offering pedestrians and cyclists a breath of fresh air mid-journey. Creative agency Accept & Proceed have put together five videos that capture the emotion and experience of running and experiment with data visualisation in Explorations in Running. The Geffrye Museum’s Ceramics in the City showcases work from the UK’s finest ceramic artists, and Rich Mix host Bold: an exhibition of Indian graphic design which includes posters, zines, typography and more. The Fractal Tree is a sustainable sculpture providing shade and collecting water, while an immersive light/furniture display is held Under the Arches on Old Street. Pop in for a coffee as DARKROOM present the pop-up Green House Café at Old Shoreditch Station.


Villa Walala

In Artwork, Jan Kath creates exquisite rugs that look like abstract expressionist paintings – head to Mayfair to take a look, then pop in to the Common Parts Canteen to debrief and discuss with like-minded design-hounds. Christopher Jenner’s new glassware designs come with tasting cubes designed by culinary masters Studio Appetit – each exquisite cube compliments the glassware – and kitsch Mayfair eatery Sketch has created bespoke cocktails to accompany their temporary Cocktail Atmospheres exhibition. In Pimlico, the Poggenpohl showroom hosts a live cookery demonstration using top Miele equipment.

London Design Festival 2017 takes place across the city from 16-24 September. Prices vary according to event.
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