London is a city of royals and rebels—a place that celebrates tradition as easily as it redefines convention. This weekend marks the start of the 12th annual London Design Festival (September 13-21), a week of more than 300 events and diversions from a stimulating program at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to a major installation in Trafalgar Square. The seemingly endless amount of presentations and showcases may leave the style seeker scrambling from one event to the next, but every moment of this seven-day experience is meant to capture the surprise and essence of British design.
“Design and creativity are embedded within our city’s DNA and critical to the future prosperity of London, as well as the whole country,” said Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. “In bringing together top design talent from across the world, the London Design Festival provides a snapshot of where we are now, but also importantly, it offers an insight into where we are going.”
The theme for the London Design Festival campaign this year is “Lose Yourself,” an invitation to become immersed in the many locations, activities, destinations and experiences on offer. Pentagram has developed the visual identity for the London Design Festival for the past eight years, and for this edition, the studio has established a strong, immediately recognizable style.
“‘Our challenge every year when creating the graphic identity campaign for the London Design Festival is to come up with something memorable and impactful,” said Domenic Lippa, Partner at Pentagram. “The Festival has now grown to include hundreds of events over many different locations throughout London and therefore our solution was based around discovering these events across the city landscape. The identity celebrates London’s idiosyncratic arrangement and to celebrate this we developed the theme ‘Lose yourself in the London Design Festival’. The maze graphic is a visual metaphor for the experience that visitors have when they visit the Festival and the city of London.”
A major element to this year’s programming is the presentation of the “Landmark Projects.” These installations, placed in iconic London locations, demonstrate the imaginative capacity of designers but also present the potential breadth of design ideas to a diverse audience. For the current edition, the festival has commissioned a major project in collaboration with Airbnb in Trafalgar Square and at its hub venue, the V&A Museum. Similarly, the Festival will present an installation in the Raphael Gallery designed by architects Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.
The pair has collaborated with BMW to create “Double Space for BMW,” a kinetic sculpture that creates an immersive experience for the viewer.
Barber and Osgerby rendering
Aerospace, automotive and maritime engineering have long fascinated Barber and Osgerby, and the project reflects those interests. Two mirrored silver structures will be suspended in the center of the gallery to epitomize BMW’s own technological innovation.
“The dramatic scale and complexity of this commission makes it a real challenge and is an amazing opportunity for us to further explore themes of movement and performance,” said Barber and Osgerby. “We believe this collaboration with BMW will celebrate the paintings and the architecture by creating an immersive and memorable experience, offering a totally new perspective on the world famous Raphael Gallery.”
Renderings by Morrison, Patternity, Raw Edges, Studioilse
In addition, four other designers including Jasper Morrrison, Patternity, Raw Edges and Studioilse have been invited to dream up their interpretation of a room within a home that one would not want to leave. Offering a new vision of a domestic space, the rooms will be created as four separate structures in Trafalgar Square, all identical on the outside, with each “house” interior reflecting the individuality and personality of the different designers.
Each of these spaces will be open to view by visitors to the Square from Thursday, September 18, through Monday, September 22. Visitors should also check the V&A Museum’s website for a list of additional programming and events taking place.
Global Design Forum at the Southbank Centre, September 15 – 19
Now in its third year, the Global Design Forum returns with an enhanced thought leadership program. This year’s summit covers topics with broad but socially minded themes such as the role of manufacturing today, how to address the true impact on local and global resources, as well as an exploration of the possibilities offered by sophisticated digital technologies. The forum also gives young design entrepreneurs a platform to pitch their fledgling business ideas to a high caliber panel of business leaders, including Jana Scholze, Curator of Contemporary Furniture at the V&A; Oliver Marlow, Co-founder and Creative Director of Studio TILT; and Georgie Mack, Managing Partner of Made by Many (pictured from left to right above). Each panelist is slated to speak at the event.
100% Design is the largest contemporary design show at the Festival. Running for two decades, the fair has called Earls Court home for years, but will relocate to Olympia in 2015, a much larger venue. The anniversary presents an opportunity to reunite a range of talent that has put London on the contemporary design map. A curated exhibition entitled Design Kaleidoscope will showcase 20 iconic design products which were first launched at 100% Design. The show will consist of five key industry zones—Interiors, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Workplace and Eco, Design & Build plus the very popular Emerging Brands. This year’s exhibition, “The Maker Carousel” by design studio Mettle, will draw on the creative process and flow of ideas involved in craft and technology. Visitors are invited to participate in shaping the work.
The sassy, fearless renegade of the pack, Designjunction returns to the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street for the fourth year and has expanded across four floors, showcasing more than 180 global brands that promote design, retail and innovation. On-site installations will be bigger than ever with an exclusive collaboration between British car manufacturer, MINI and Dezeen, who will present “Frontiers—The Future of Mobility.” The ground floor offers a range of 25 pop-up shops and high-end design stores. Ventura London will present experimental and conceptual exhibitions along with the most recent developments by the next generation of designers and the vibrant “Flash Factory” will bring the process of industrial production to life. The seminar program will run debates on issues facing design with a stellar line-up of iconic designers from Sir Kenneth Grange to Alberto Alessi.
Design trade shows Tent London & Super Brands London offers the ultimate convergence of established and emerging designers. Manufacturers from more than 280 companies from 29 countries will be on display and four key trends will be expressed: Raw, the power of process, honest, unrefined and celebrating texture; Bold & Beautiful, color, fun and variety featuring jewelry and ceramics; Frame, simple lines, geometry and bold primary colors with tubular metal; and Refraction, surface design, optical trickery and Pop Art brights, which feature in fabrics and wallpaper.
Showcasing more than 350 leading British and international luxury design brands, Decorex has always stood tall as the most refined and most decorative beauty of bunch. The new location at Syon House offers more space for feature areas as well as larger exhibitor stands, plus a seminar program featuring some top names in interior design. Newcomers to the show this year include Liberty Art Fabrics, Eley Kishimoto, Maya Romanoff, Interior ID and Scapa House together with Blubellgray, Haute Deco and Melodi Horne.
This year’s theme is “The Georgians” and eight scenes from William Hogarth’s series of paintings and prints, “A Rake’s Progress,” have been reinterpreted by contemporary designers—Nigel Coates will create The Levee; Fromental and Russell Sage, The Orgy; De Gournay is designing The Marriage; Harlequin London and Martin Kemp will partner to create The Gaming House; Shaun Clarkson will create The Prison and Timorous Beasties and Retrouvious will focus on The Madhouse.
For designers, international buyers, specifiers working on commercial projects, yachts, hotels or private homes, Focus/14 is a high-priority. The creative hub of more than 500 international brands within 99 showrooms, the show is like a live catalog of every vendor and material from this season’s key fabrics, the newest wall and floor coverings to the latest furniture, lighting and accessories.
Design luminiaries like Terence Conran will share their expert knowledge at the “Conversations in Design” sessions along with bespoke workshops, talks and “meet the designer” events. Specially commissioned installations, pop-ups, book signings and breakout sessions will also be part of the three days.
Lastly, six design districts have emerged within London and will be displaying new collections for the fall season including the Chelsea Design Quarter, the Clerkenwell Design Quarter, the Islingotn Design Quarter, the Shoreditch Design Triangel, the Brompton Design District and the Queens Park Design District.