The annual celebration of all things London design is back in just under two months time, with art and design lovers all over the world coming together to join in the festivities by showcasing their work and getting inspired.
Its aim is to cement the city’s reputation as the centre of design, and thanks to a jam-packed line-up of exciting events and showcases, it certainly gets the job done.
The festival returns to venues and institutes across the city from 14-22 September 2019, so it’s time to start planning your adventure across the festival to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun.
We’re here to help with this mini-guide of what you can expect this year along with a few tips to help you make the most of the experience.
The Landmark Projects are what tend to pull in the big crowds each year as they are generally the most famous pieces that work to make design interesting and accessible to all, and are by some of the biggest names in art.
They consist of major installations, first introduced at the festival back in 2007, and they involve commissioning the world’s best designers, artists and architects, as well as exciting new and as yet not-yet-discovered talents, to create something inspiring in response to a variety of stimuli such as a particular material, a subject or a location.
Over the years, projects have popped up in some of the capital’s most prominent and best-loved spaces such as the V&A, the Southbank Centre, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern and Trafalgar Square, which are no doubt already on your list anyway, of amazing things to see in the city.
This year, British designer Paul Cocksedge is taking over Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, with his Landmark Project, Please Be Seated. Situated right in the heart of Broadgate – a diverse hub connecting the perhaps unlikely duo of innovation and finance – the project will be the most ambitious of British Land’s commissions to date.
Here you’ll be just around the corner from one of the best local hotels, The Barbican Rooms Hotel too.
The V&A is one of the most city’s most loved and visited gallery spaces. So it’s no surprise that it has teamed up with the festival for a whopping 11 years to create the ultimate design hub in the capital.
The London Design Festival at the V&A fills the museum each September with an extraordinary range of design installations large and small, intricate and majestic. There are five key projects this year to explore.
A particular highlight to spotlight is the Bamboo Ring: Weaving into Lightness by Kengo Kuma. Bamboo Ring is an experiment in the concept of weaving, one of the hobbies explored by the extremely busy Kengo Kuma. He has most recently designed the V&A Dundee, his primary building in the UK, along with the New National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Great (Bamboo) Wall house in China.
Festival Commission Projects
Festival Commissions represent a variety of one-off design installations that take place each year across the city in conjunction with the London Design Festival. Mixing exhibitions, events, creations and projects, Festival Commissions underpin London’s position as the global stage for the best in creativity and talent – the hub of innovation, thought leadership and imagination.
This year is absolutely no different, with three key pieces set to wow visitors. Our favourite is the Life Labyrinth by PATTERNITY – a giant geometric labyrinth formation, which provides guests with a pattern-based journey, offering positive health benefits for the user as they saunter through the journey towards the centre of the piece. Visitors are invited and encouraged to immerse themselves in the sacred space, amidst the hustle and bustle of London life all around them. Wild autumnal grasses and gentle sounds bring nature, beauty and connection to the space, effectively balancing and immersing the senses. It’s well and truly dreamy.
Here, you won’t be too far away from top barbican hotels, in the heart of the design action, too, with lots of great restaurants around also, to help you fuel up for your adventures.
Special by name, special by nature, London Design Festival support and promote a number of Special Projects as part of the overall festival programme every year. These projects are located throughout the city, from North to South, East to West.
This year is a goodie – London favourite Camille Walala returns to London Design Festival in her characteristically colourful manner. The French-born designer whose work graces many London streets has been commissioned by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland to energise and enliven South Molton Street, with a brilliantly bold and beautiful set of street furniture for passers-by and art lovers to enjoy.
Fully pedestrianised and home to a strong mix of wonderful British and international boutiques and cafés, South Molton will be turned into a place to stop and think, even just for a moment. Walala’s aim is to transform the street into an open-air, city living space – a place for people to come together, chat and relax – and to disrupt the hectic pace and dull buildings nearby with a lively burst of colour she has become so synonymous with, and a general injection of joy into the retail heart of central London.
Design Districts are a key component of the festival’s anatomy, with each Design District constituting of a cluster of events within a short walking distance of each other, enabling visitors to navigate the 400 events and geography of the city.
There are a total of 11 districts across the city, and they each offer a completely different design experience. You can find out more about each one on the official London Design Festival website:
- Bankside Design District
- Brompton Design District
- Chelsea Design District
- Clerkenwell Design Quarter
- King’s Cross Design District
- Marylebone Design District
- Mayfair Design District
- Pimlico Design District
- Shoreditch Design Triangle
- Victoria Connections Design District
- West Kensington Design District
See you there!