WITH so much change happening globally right now, how does the design world respond to the challenges we face? This week we’re taking you for a behind-the-scenes look at one of the biggest design shows on the planet, London Design Festival (Saturday to September 22, londondesignfestival.com) to find out who, why, where and what to see.
One installation looks at chairs (perhaps not the best start) and we must admit that, at first glance, the programme left us asking, ‘Is the design world out of touch?’ There are many exhibits that aren’t great for the environment, simply for existing and creating more landfill — and there are shows that feel elitist, out of reach in their price points and practicality.
But for every installation that appears out of touch there is another that feels like a breath of fresh air or a wonderful solution to our sustainability issues. Humble ideas rub shoulders with opulent displays in the most fabulous mash-up that makes both all the more brilliant.
So the answer is no, the design world is not out of touch, though from the outside it can sometimes sadly appear so. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of the most amazing things to see and do during the festival.
The festival is not just about product launches, though there are plenty of those. It will also feature thought-provoking installations from designers such as multi-award winning British designer, Steuart Padwick. He is showcasing Talk To Me (main picture above) — a powerful and engaging piece in support of mental health anti-stigma campaign Time To Change. We met Steuart last year and his work is always ambitious and full of heart. This will be part of one of the main shows for the festival, Design Junction, based in King’s Cross by Coal Drops Yard — an incredible piece of architecture to visit in its own right. It is designed by Thomas Heatherwick, who created the flame for the 2012 Olympics, so get down there!
Sustainability as activism
Global Design Forum brings the design world together with an epic list of speakers, most notably Vivienne Westwood (above), who will be setting the tone with a battle cry of a keynote speech about the role of design in the fight to save our planet.
A riot of colour and pattern
Design stars Camille Walala, Patternity and Adam Nathaniel Furman take over the streets with brave colour to lead the way to a brighter future in a series of installations, from Paddington to South Molton Street.
Adorno Design are bringing a wild element of the unexpected to the festival, inspired by Italian design legend Gio Ponti. For some this may be inaccessible, but don’t we all need to see things that lift our spirits, challenge our boundaries and make us dream of something exciting? We know that we do.
Dive in to design
Take The Plunge, by Volume Creative for Virgin Voyages at Oxo Barge House, is a free, interactive installation that’s not only set to be an immersive treat, it is also materially recyclable and will be repurposed after the show.
Hands on design
Also at Coal Drops Yard, there’s the London Craft Club at Wolf & Badger, filled with craft workshops and macramé events and surrounded by independent design. Enjoy!
At the cutting edge
Tent, or London Design Fair, has always been at the forefront of UK design, creating a platform for big brands to do better and for new independent designers to get seen. We’re excited to see new Labcrete by Harken, taking the terrazzo trend into the future, and our own new 2LG Studio rug collection that transports you through a portal of bold colour for your home — with sustainable bamboo silk thrown into the mix.