Oct 3, 2019

10 Top Highlights from the London Design Festival 2019

|| A post by Donna Casey, thatssocool

The London Design Festival, which is now in its 17th year, continues to shine its light on the most talented and innovative UK and international designers.  Spread across the entire city, the festival is split into different districts throughout town, each its own hub of innovation, design and inspiration.

Enjoy a round up of the most inspiring events and installations from London!


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The Victoria and Albert museum remains the central headquarters of LDF hosting a varied selection of exhibitions and installations.  This year, visitors were welcomed by a huge suspended cube within the museum’s entrance by Sam Jacobs, which reflected a digital underwater animation, complete with plastic waste.  The intention of ‘Sea Things’ was to provoke an emotional response to our global single-use plastic crisis, an issue which was echoed throughout the entire festival.


Sam Jacobs ‘Sea Things’
Image Credit: Donna Casey



The ‘Legacy’ exhibition at the V&A was a project commissioned by Sir John Sorrell, who is the Chairman of LDF, he invited prominent principals from a number of cultural and artistic institutions such as the English National Ballet, The Young Vic theatre and the British Film Institute to collaborate with a selection of hugely talented designers such as Max Lamb, Sebastian Cox, Studiomama, Terence Woodgate and Jaspar Morrison to create an object of personal relevance for them.  The result was a selection of beautifully crafted products all made from American red oak that also demonstrated the legacy of wood and its life beyond the tree. 


Sam Jacobs ‘Sea Things’
Image Credit: Donna Casey



One more fascinating, yet slightly harder to find, exhibit at the V&A was held in the tapestry halls, providing the perfect setting to display Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters dazzling New Orleans Mardi Gras suits in all of their intricately beaded and magnificently plumaged beauty.  The costumes were accompanied by a hugely engrossing film ‘All On A Mardi Gras Day’ documenting Melancon’s dedication to his art and an homage to his city.


Black Masking, Demond Melancon
Image Credit: Donna Casey



Kirkby Design’s Underground Volume II was hugely popular.  Their exploration of the heritage of the London Underground’s moquette pattern led to refashioned pastel velvet cushion covers and a stunning transformation of a London tube carriage.


Kirkby Design, Underground II
Image Credit: Donna Casey



Camille Walala brought ‘Walala Lounge’ to South Molten Street with her bright and colourful signature graphic style decorating sculptural benches and cubed planters providing much needed street furniture to weary shoppers to rest and revive.


Camille Walala
Image Credit: Donna Casey



Slightly off-piste but certainly worth the detour was Bohinc Studio’s ‘Lunar House’.  Lara Bohinc created an immersive experience, of which there should be more of at LDF, which combined sound, scent and a visual feast.  The period townhouse was transformed with petrol blue floors and undulating walls to highlight Bohinc’s latest collections which are inspired by the moon landing.


Bohinc Studio
Image Credit: Philippe Fragniere



The British designer Lee Broom’s ‘Kaleidoscopia’ was a mesmerising lighting installation which created an optical illusion using mirrors and Broom’s Orion lamps to give the appearance of an enormous chandelier.


Lee Broom
Image Credit: PR



An added advantage of the London Design Festival is exploring parts of the city you might not normally visit and discovering smaller gems amongst the major events.  W.A Green in Shoreditch is a beautifully created, quirky homeware store worth a visit at any time of year which was displaying knitwear from design duo Paris Essex.  Interior design studio and store Design & That hosted limewash paint workshops and The Conran Shop in Chelsea celebrated design past, present and future with Sella Concept’s fabulous hall of mirrors window display.


Paris Essex
Image Credit: Donna Casey



A particularly popular and powerful element of the London Design Festival were the series of talks and panel discussions.  Headliners such as Vivienne Westwood, the winner of this year’s LDF Lifetime Achievement award, discussed her manifesto to save the planet as part of the Global Design Forum.  The iconic Paola Navone spoke at Silvera about her long-term working relationship with Baxter, Made in Italy. Patricia Urquiola, Patrizia Moroso, Giulia Molteni, Roberto Gavazzi and Giulio Cappelleni debated the strength of the industry of design in Italy, attributing it to a history of craftmanship and beauty and continued collaborative efforts to maintain its position.


Vivienne Westwood
Image Credit: Donna Casey




On the subject of Italy, one significant highlight was the welcome addition of I-Made at the Saatchi Gallery.  This was the first exhibition dedicated solely to Italian design and manufacture to be held in London and arrived with thanks to Giulio Cappelleni who curated I-Made, as well as it’s deeply satisfying satellite show ‘Take a Seat’ which featured classic chairs from maestros such as Gio Ponti, Alessandro Mendini and Piero Lissoni.  Although not quite on par with Salone di Mobile, LDF certainly has its high points and is continuing to grow in the right direction.  


I-Made, Gio Ponti chair
Image Credit: Donna Casey





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