One of the world’s biggest celebrations of art, design and crafts returns to London this autumn – and we’ve collated everything you need to know…
When is the London Design Festival?
The Festival takes place from Saturday 14 September to Sunday 22 September.
Where does the London Design Festival take place?
It’s spread all over the city – with a Landmark Project by London designer Paul Cocksedge at Finsbury Avenue Square next to Liverpool Street Station (14 September-11 October); five special V&A projects featuring the talents of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Czech product designer Rony Plesl; special festival commissions by Liz West and PATTERNITY; a Camille Walala pop-up in South Molton Street and a host of Design Districts (such as Shoreditch Design Triangle celebrating the talent of East London) and Design Destinations (pop-up trade fairs including 100% Design and designjunction).
What can’t I miss?
There are so many incredible things we’ve broken it down into the main parts – after all you’ve got a fortnight to explore the best in global design and craftmanship…
See the unmissable design event, Please Be Seated at Finsbury Avenue Square (14 September-11 October) and join our Q&A on 17 September
At the heart of this year’s festival is Paul Cocksedge’s Please Be Seated (see below). Inspired by Broadgate (London's largest pedestrianised neighbourhood), its designer explains, “The curves raise up to create backrests and places to sit, as well as space for people to walk under, or pause and find some shade. It walks the line between a craft object and a design solution. It occupies the square without blocking it.” Read more in our interview with Paul here.
Made from scaffolding planks, Paul Cocksedge is collaborating with Essex-based interiors company, White & White, to re-imagine and re-use the building wood. Paul will be joining us for a special free Q&A and panel discussion at 6.30pm on Tuesday 17 September in The Space | 3FA as part of Shoreditch Design Triangle Night – click here to find out more and book your free tickets.
Kick back on a special project, Walala Lounge at South Molton Street
Camille Walala is no stranger to London Design Festival having previously designed a giant inflatable which took over Exchange Square at Broadgate in 2017. This year she’s created some of her signature bright and beautiful designs as street furniture in the heart of the West End. A place for people to stop and chat surrounded by vibrant colour and escape the everyday, it’s going to be an unmissable stop on the design trail.
Follow Paddington Central’s DesignRoute
This vibrant and welcoming neighbourhood will be playing home to design and inspiration for the duration of the Festival. There will be an installation from Paddington-born Adam Nathaniel Furman, who'll enliven the Grand Union Canal with his signature vibrancy as well as an engaging and interactive nine-day programme of exhibitions, installations, talks and debates, celebrating design across architecture, interiors, furniture and lighting. The focus of the route is to immerse, discuss and debate how design can impact our everyday lives as well as the environments we live and work within.
Take a day out to see 5 events at the V&A
- LDF explains that Kengo Kuma’s Bamboo (竹) Ring: Weaving into Lightness is partly inspired by its main material: “Bamboo has been used traditionally in Japanese architecture in part due to its linearity and flexibility, and as a symbol of strength and rapid growth.” Situated in the John Madejski Garden and curated by Clare Farrow, this sculpture is a celebration of precision and flight as the sculpture reaches into the air.
- Exploring the future of AI, robots and humans, Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design is an interactive robotic pendulum which will seek out visitors (displaying almost emotional and physical responses).
- Sacred Geometry (pictured above) by Rony Plesl is a fusion of ideas: a brand new technology for glass molding which makes 3D objects without limitations made possible thanks to American philanthropist Trish Duggan and Czech company Bolety; a tribute to fire and wood (the key components of glass making) and geometric principles. This “glowing glass forest” is located in the Medieval and Renaissance galleries.
- Falling Sky by Canadian artist Matthew McCormick is an exploration of climate change and spatial disruption with reflective aluminium shards that evoke the feathery frost deposits on mountains which can lead to an avalanche.
- Legacy by various artists is 10 pieces of furniture “made in American red oak, a sustainable wood species that grows abundantly in the American hardwood forests, and will be fabricated at Benchmark Furniture in Berkshire”. Artist and designers include Jasper Morrison, Studio Mama and Marlene Huissoud.
Travel London via 3 special commissions
Head to Islington to see VOID – a multi-sensory spatial installation – by designer Dan Tobin Smith and The Experience Machine; Iri-Descent by Liz West at the Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly and PATTERNITY transforming Westminister Cathedral Piazza. All three pieces will transport you from the everyday into a world of uplifting and thought-provoking experience.
Explore a Design District
Bankside, Brompton, Chelsea, Clerkenwell, King’s Cross, Marylebone, Mayfair, Pimlico Road, Shoreditch, Victoria and West Kensington will each be celebrating local and global talent by hosting workshops, launches, events, open-house shops, exhibitions and more. Pick a district and have a wander…
Visit a Design Destination
Most of the fairs including 100% Design are for trade only but visitors can get tickets to designjunction at King’s Cross and discover some of the most exciting up-and-coming brands and shops at The Canopy pop-up.
Any others to add?
There are hundreds of events which can be found at London Design Festival all located here. But just to give you a flavour, here are just some of the other names involved: Snøhetta Book Pavilion at Paddington Central, SCP, Tala, Aram, Ilse Crawford, Lee Broom, Eileen Fisher, Ercol, Established and Sons, Central Saint Martins and more…
Where to find Please Be Seated
Hard to miss, this impressive structure will be in Finsbury Avenue Square, EC2A 2EH, for the duration of London Design Festival (14 September-11 October) and beyond. Sat between Liverpool Street Station and Moorgate, Broadgate offers some of London’s best street food, bars and restaurants, plus a public art trail, so while you’re here, make sure you explore.
Broadgate and the London Design Festival
For the third year running, Broadgate is home to LDF’s landmark installation. Last year, Finsbury Avenue Square became an urban playground with Alphabet by Kellenberger-White, and in 2017, Exchange Square hosted Camilla Walala’s Villa Walala, a colourful, inflatable, tactile landscape.
British Land, joint owner of Broadgate, is the Headline Partner of London Design Festival and principal supporter of the British Land London Design Medals, celebrating those who have made a significant contribution to the world of design.