| Aug 26, 2009 |
Highlights of the London Design Festival
Boh staff
By Staff

From giant chessboards in Trafalgar Square to eerily beautiful lighting installations at the V&A Museum, London will be brimming this September with a diverse and exciting range of over 200 commissioned installations, exhibitions and events as part of the seventh London Design Festival. Straddling the whole of the city from east to west, with concentrated design hubs, the Festival will reinforce London’s reputation as the design capital of the world with highlights that will include:

The Tournament in Trafalgar Square

An installation created by Spanish designer, Jaime Hayón, The Tournament will consist of a gigantic chess set, with 2m high ceramic chess pieces designed and painted by Hayón on a specially created mosaic glass chess board. The installation, which will be set between the two fountains in Trafalgar Square, will be in situ from Saturday 19 – Wednesday 23 September.

The V&A

The London Design Festival will take up residence within the V&A. Highlights include:

Arts Co: ‘Wasted’ is a project conceived and curated by Arts Co, presented in the tunnel connecting South Kensington station to the V&A. Architect Ian Douglas-Jones and designer Ben Rousseau will create a seating installation using reclaimed materials.

'In Praise of Shadows': In Praise of Shadows showcases works by 20 European designers who imaginatively explore not only the potential of low energy lighting but also the way we think about light and darkness. The exhibition is supported by EUNIC, a network of European Cultural Centres – together with the European Commission Representation in the UK.

The Wallpaper* Chair Arch: Inspired by a tradition of improvised public sculpture, popular in Victoria times, Wallpaper* magazine’s contribution to the London Design Festival is the installation of a contemporary ‘Chair Arch’. Designed by Martino Gamper with chairs provided by Ercol the arch will be on display in the garden of the V&A for the duration of the Festival.

Pentagram poster exhibition: Domenic Lippa, Partner at Pentagram Design and Sir John Sorrell, chairman of the London Design Festival, have curated a poster exhibition featuring 20 limited editions by leading graphic designers and typographers.

London Design Embassy: The London Design Embassy – the hub of the Festival and the ultimate meeting place for those connected with the London Design Festival - will be established in the Sackler Centre and open for business from Monday 22 September to Friday 27 September providing space for meetings and networking for international visitors.

Design tours: Key London designers, including Sir John Sorrell, Terence Conran and Nigel Coates, will be offering design tours around their favourite rooms within the V&A.

The Business of Design Talks with the FT: A series of five talks tackling relevant and topical issues of the day is on offer from 8-9am on subjects such as ‘Evolving Architecture’ and ‘Design in Adversity’. The talks will be led by panels of high-level speakers from across the worlds of business, design, architecture, retail and fashion, both in the UK and abroad.

Wrong Wood/Bench Press: A new commission of benches has been created by Sebastian Wrong (Established & Sons) in collaboration with artist Richard Wood and these will be located in the main entrance of the V&A beneath the dome. The benches will be made from American Tulipwood, supported by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC).

Size + Matter at Southbank Centre 19 September – 18 October

Two of the world’s most highly regarded designers and architects – Marc Newson and Shigeru Ban – have been commissioned by The London Design Festival to create installations for its annual Size + Matter initiative at Southbank Centre. The aims of this project are to challenge the perception of everyday materials by creating dramatic temporary installations outside The Royal Festival Hall.

100% Design 24 – 27 September

100% Design is the UK's leading architecture and design event showcasing everything for the modern building and interior. JAM has taken over as the creative director for this year's 100% Design London, following in the footsteps of Ben Kelly, Tim Pyne, and more recently Tom Dixon. They will create a show experience that reflects the importance of British design in the UK and internationally.

Designersblock 24 – 27 September

This innovative show of cutting edge work will be linking up with 100% Design at Earls Court for the first time this year. More than 50 established and emerging Designers, Collectives and Design Companies will present furniture, lighting, textiles, accessories, digital animation, musical instruments, installations, concepts, design services and design product.

The Design Museum

Their annual Designers in Residence exhibition will showcase emerging UK designers. The popular Friday late night event on 25 September will allow visitors to immerse themselves in London design, past, present and future at the Super Contemporary exhibition.

Tent London 21 – 24 September

International, emerging and established designers across all disciplines will be shown in Brick Lane. Tent Digital will debut at The Truman Brewery.

Tom Dixon 21 – 27 September

The Dock is an emporium of creative talent instigated by Tom Dixon. A series of stand-alone exhibitions and indoor and outdoor installations will be presented. The space will host design and architecture talks, pop up cafes and a strong display of international design brands. There will be a public late night opening on 22nd September from 8pm.

Cockpit Arts and Sort 22 – 27 September

Maker Difference – Pop Up Letterpress Studio

Sort (Society of Revisionist Typographers) use antique letterpresses to create stunning contemporary books, cards and curios fusing design technologies with traditional techniques. Cockpit Arts will be recreating Sort’s Studio in Carnaby Street, as a living installation. You can watch the designers at work, buy bespoke prints and even try your hand at letterpress printing for free, daily at 12 and 4pm.

Digital programme

The London Design Festival’s digital content continues to develop, with activity being planned by This Happened – the interactive design movement, New Media Knowledge and the i-Design conference.

Design Districts

Special focus will be on four districts within central London with a concentration of Festival activity:

West: Brompton Design District: The Brompton Design District will again be flying the design flag for the South Kensington area. A fascinating location, close to the V&A and embracing the Royal College of Art, the Serpentine Gallery and a host of retail spaces, this district boasts a wealth of design destinations from Few & Far to B&B Italia. Brompton Bikes will run a series of design tours of the district starting from 100% Design on the bicycles that have become design classics, led by architects and designers.

Central: West End and Covent Garden: The West End will host a series of design events in Covent Garden, Soho, Mayfair, Trafalgar Square and Fitzrovia. Liberty will host Britain Can (still) Make It – curated by Telegraph design editor David Nicholls, a selling exhibition of new designs, from ceramics and lighting to furniture and textiles - all made in Britain. Somerset House will host an installation showing what happens when design meets desserts, and designer Lee Broom showcases his latest collection at Covent Garden’s Future Gallery. Black Banquet – a monochromatic feast of black food created by Bompas & Parr and Fiona Leahy Design. Eight courses of food, all entirely black, will be served in a dramatic London setting. See www.jellymongers.co.uk

South: Southbank Centre and the riverside ribbon: Southbank Centre will again provide the backdrop for the Size + Matter installations. From there, Festival activity will spread east along the river, taking in the Oxo Tower, Bombay Sapphire’s Designer Glass exhibition at Vinopolis, Food with Thought Borough Market and the Design Museum.

East: Clerkenwell, Hoxton and Shoreditch: Alongside Tent London will be contributions to the Festival programme from the showrooms in Clerkenwell, galleries in Hoxton and the streets of Shoreditch. New cutting edge young design talent will be in abundance with innovative and inspiring shows, installations and exhibitions

Art schools and student work

Closeup: This show presents ten years of European design projects by the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates at the RCA (1999-2009) in the RCA’s Lower Galleries. Exhibits, including furniture, products, communications and films, will explore design for ageing, inclusive design, workplace design and design for patient safety.

Sunny Memories at the RCA: As part of the London Design Festival, EPFL+ ECAL Lab, a new Swiss initiative to foster innovation at a crossroads between technology, design and architecture is presenting Sunny Memories, an exhibition that reveals a new design revolution in solar energy.

Makebelieve: Goldsmiths is showcasing emerging talent including several projects from its Design Master’s projects. Paint has the potential to create worlds of make-believe. Design has the potential to create worlds for us to believe in.

Up all Night is an exhibition which showcases work by students at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Since 1928 the college has produced some of the most important designers in the world. For the first time it has collected some of its iconic work for a shop front exhibition in the windows of the college’s Charing Cross Road site.

Cuts curls and crimpers, the London College of Fashion examines the cultural significance of hair. The installation at the Fashion Space Gallery looks at how ethnicity, heritage and global lifestyles have helped change British hair and hairstyles.

Vietnamese Orphanage fashion fundraiser, organized by The London College of Communication involves children from Hoi An in Vietnam. Children painted, drew and wrote on fabric which was then brought to London for designers and graduates to make into bags and accessories which will be auctioned in support of the Kianh Foundation charity

Sustainable and Eco-friendly projects

From 19-27 September, Eco Age will play host to Reclaim, an exhibition created by Orsola de Castro & John Teall. Having bought a collection of left luggage at a London auction, which had been abandoned at Heathrow airport, De Castro and Teall set about using the contents to create several unique masterpieces from bedspreads to clothes.

Zest Gallery is presenting Transformations, an exhibition dedicated to energy-efficient art, which will focus on makers who recreate glass art by recycling, reusing and remaking. It promotes the issue of sustainability in an accessible way by featuring the work of artists who are revolutionising the way glass art and glass products are created, using less energy than conventional studio glass techniques.

Greengaged at The Design Council. Five guest curators will each be creating a day-long event based around their subjects, incorporating field trips to landfill sites, factories and workshops and involving experts to inspire and galvanise.

Ceramics, Craft and Designer Makers

Knit Wits, presented by Skandium with Iittala is a charming show of knitted accessories created by knit pioneer Barley Massey to complement Iittala’s iconic vases, glasses and decanters. Knit-Wit will run kitting classes at Skandium on Thursday 24th September from 6-8030 with tea and cakes for guests.

Supersquat - The event Super Squat sees a group of designers taking over the beautiful chaos of Brunswick House, a Georgian manor in Vauxhall now home to architectural salvage company LASSCO. Design writer Caroline Roux will be curating the ensemble. Bodo Sperlein will be launching a new collection of tea accessories, inspired by the natural forms of this global commodity. The collection includes contemporary cast iron teapots, silver plated stainless steel tea tools and sleek porcelain tea sets and caddies. Also featured will be Sperlein's capsule furniture collection, the Silhouette table and chair, and Cascade lighting.

Made It is a selling exhibition celebrating the diversity of studio ceramics from across the UK. Contemporary ceramics will be on show in Somerset House throughout September.

Craftwork Wool Works at the Exposure Gallery in Little Portland Street, shows two huge hanging textile artworks made of aluminum and natural, un-spun twisted wool. Food with Thought is a design event at London’s iconic Borough Market showing household items made from recycled or sustainable materials. Designers will be designed a unique canvas shopper with proceeds going to the Borough Market charity.

Come across stitch is a witty and enchanting show created by Hannah Hull at the Papered Parlour in Clapham. Follow a craft trail and uncover a world of design from oversized bunting to enormous doilies.

Sustainable fashion label Keep & Share showcase ‘slow fashion’ knitwear for men and women at Craft Central in Clerkenwell Green.

Magma and Pocko have asked artists and illustrators to customize seven blank Russian dolls which will be shown at Magma Clerkenwell Road.


An exhibition work organized by Grafik magazine which has been blended into a poster interpreting an Olympic sport. On show at the German Gymnasium with proceeds from sales of the poster to Right to Play and GB Paralympic fund.


100% Norway

Now in its sixth year, 100% Norway 2009 will showcase the best new works of both established and new Norwegian designers, along with some of the country’s leading manufacturers during this year’s Festival.


Poland has one of the most vibrant emerging design scenes in Europe. A group of young designers will show new work in the Brompton Design District representing a broad spectrum of creativity from furniture design to fashion. The exhibition will also provide the launch venue for Discovering Women in Polish Design.


Dreams on Wheels presents a view of contemporary urban cycling culture at City Hall with examples of what can be seen and experienced both in London and Copenhagen.

Brazil illustrated, sponsored by the Embassy of Brazil, brings together three artists who each explore the possibilities of illustration.

Portugal. Portugal Brands will feature at a design event at Tent London.

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