The annual London Design Festival has become one of the most expansive and impressive celebrations of design in the world, with hundreds of things to do and see. The festival kicked off in earnest over the weekend, and it's certainly hit the ground running this year. Here, we've selected just a taste of the events, talks, panels, exhibitions and installations that we think will be worth checking out if you happen to find yourself in the capital over the next week. We'll be reporting on the festival all week, with a final roundup of all the best cool stuff to follow next week.
“Sign Machine” by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan at the Bulgari Hotel
Running until Sunday (September 25), “The Sign Machine” is a kinetic installation of bright colours and textures, which is full of the vibrant personality of the Supergroup. A completely interactive piece, users sit in the machine and turn a series of rods to control signs that brandish bold and simple messaging, causing objects and signs to interact with one another, “Creating wider statements.” Definitely one of the more “Fun” looking installations, we presume this one is going to be popular with design fans of all ages.
Panel: How to be Creative and Successful when you are Dyslexic at The Gallery Room
Is having dyslexia always a learning difficulty, or can it facilitate lateral and creative thinking? Design and architecture writer Grant Gibson chairs this fascinating discussion, which sits alongside the current Designjunction exhibition, Dyslexic Design, showcasing the work of dyslexic designers. Panelists will include illustrator Kristjana S Williams, industrial designer Terence Woodgate, furniture designer Tom Raffield and writer Margaret Rooke. This free event takes place at The Gallery Room in King's Place at 5pm on Saturday September 24.
“Words by Voices” by Domenic Lippa at the Pentagram Design Offices
This Wednesday (September 21) at 6:30pm, internationally renowned designer Domenic Lippa is hosting “Words by Voices,” a typographic installation that explores words of social justice. Designed by Domenic and displaying quips, quotes and speeches from Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali among others, the installation of large format posters will be presented throughout the Pentagram London office. It's promises to be a simple, elegant and unique examination of the unique power of the skilled orator.
Toilet Break, by Dirty Furniture and The Shit Museum at The Basement
Independent design magazine Dirty Furniture and The Shit Museum (snappy name that) have teamed up to create an event exploring the potential of arguably our most primordial activity: poo. Toilet Break, which takes place all week, features two exhibitions, including one called On the Go, featuring a new commission by Lukas Franciszkiewicz of London-Tokyo design studio Takram. There will also be a series of talks, including one that will discuss whether gender-neutral toilets are the answer.
The Smile by Alison Brooks at Chelsea College of Arts
A regular favourite of the festival is the installation created with the American Hardwood Council. In recent years we’ve seen dRMM Architects’ Escher-inspired Endless Stair and Amanda Levete’s Endless Wave. This year, The Smile has been created by architect Alison Brooks. It’s a 34 metre curved wooden structure that you can walk in and around. Its two ends sitting three metres off the ground will offer viewing platforms and a new perspective to see surrounding buildings. Created from cross laminated tulipwood timber, it has been designed so that even if 60 people were to run to one end of the structure, it wouldn’t see-saw. The Smile has been anchored with a cradle of 20 tonnes of steel counterweights. The Smile can be found in the grounds of Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, next to Tate Britain all week long.
Type Tasting by Sarah Hyndman and Grant Hedley at Laithwaite’s Arch
One for the winos. At 7:30pm every day between Thursday (22) and next Tuesday (27), typography expert Sarah Hyndman and wine expert Grant Hedley will be combining a type workshop with a wine tasting evening. At Type Tasting you'll learn about how typography and label design can inform on the price and quality of your wine, and even influence what you taste. This one will fill up fast so booking is essential.
Silhouettes and Shadows by Photofusion and Rockarchive at Electric Lane
Just in time for the premier of the late, great singer's “Lazarus” play in London, Photography collective Rockarchive has collaborated with Brixton-based photo studio and gallery, Photofusion in an exhibition dedicated to the memory of one of the area’s most famous residents. As a visual celebration of Bowie’s life and career, visitors can expect prints and images by music photographers including Ray Stevenson, Mark Mawston and Steve Rapport, some of which are being shown in the UK for the first time. Silhouettes and Shadows is running all week at 17a Electric Lane.
Beloved by Murat Tabanlıoğlu at the Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A effectively forms the epicentre of every year's LDF, and this year is no different. One of the museum's most interesting installations for this year's festival is a 13-metre long mirrored black box designed for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. It is a response to Turkish author Sabahattin Ali’s 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat. Visitors can look inside the structure where they will witness scenes from the novel playing out as film, physical objects, text, light and sound. Murat Tabanlıoğlu of Tabanlıoğlu Architects said: “We wanted to introduce the book to a new audience in London, as the book has recently been published in an English translation for the first time in its 73-year history. The installation is a physical, multi-sensory realisation of the way the human mind imagines scenes from a book as they read. It’s a very intimate experience that celebrates literature, passion and the human condition.” Beloved will run all week at the V&A.
25 Years of Editions by Sebastian Bergne at Ingate Place, Battersea
Industrial designer Sebastian Bergne will be opening the doors of his Battersea studio to the public for this year’s festival, showcasing some of his most famous designs from over the last 25 years in the very place they were created Highlights include the relaunched ring soap and lamp shade, as well as new products such as the Drop jug and Cubit beer glass. 25 Years of Editions will run Monday to Friday at 2 Ingate Place.
The London Design Biennale at Somerset House
Finally, whilst it's not technically part of the festival, we'd be remiss not to mention the London Design Biennale, which is running concurrently with the festivities. The biennale, which opened earlier this month and is curated by the team that puts LDF together, is a series of installations from design representatives of countries around the world. This year marks the inaugural event, and sees the theme of “Utopia” being addressed by design teams who have interpreted it broadly with some looking at how global problems might be solved through design, and others conjuring more abstract utopian and dystopian visions.