A Guide to the Top Things to See and Do at London Design Festival 2017

Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room | Courtesy of the V&A
Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room | Courtesy of the V&A
Photo of Charlotte Luxford
Architecture & Design Editor14 September 2017

London Design Festival is one of the capital’s biggest design events of the year, but with so many design districts, exhibits and events going on, it’s hard to know where to start. Fear not. Culture Trip has picked out the highlights so you don’t need to worry about FOMO. Here’s our list of the top things to see and do at the festival, which runs from September 16–24.

The playful Villa Walala

You’ve probably already spotted Camille Walala’s bold Memphis Movement-inspired work dotted around town, most notably her fun-filled Walala x Play maze installation at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich. For this year’s London Design Festival (LDF) landmark project, the textile designer will be bringing her bright colours and bold patterns to East London’s urban jungle in the form of a squishy and playful, inflatable pop-up castle, right in the heart of Exchange Square. The installation, in partnership with British Land, will be a refreshing splash of colour in the heart of the otherwise grey city district.

September 16–24, Exchange Square, Broadgate.

Courtesy of London Design Festival

Eye-catching installations at the V&A

There are three key, unmissable installations at the V&A during the LDF. Australian light designer Flynn Talbot’s immersive Reflection Room is a vibrant visual feast that highlights the dramatic 35-metre vaulted space of the Prince Consort Gallery. Ross Lovegrove’s ginormous 21-metre long 3D tapestry installation, Transmission, is inspired by the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries hanging in the V&A. This impressive piece manages to strike a balance between paying homage to the heritage of the 15th-century tapestries while using cutting-edge digital techniques. Last but not least is the debut installation While We Wait from Palestinian architects Elias and Yousef Anastas; the stone structure represents the Cremisan Valley, which is located near Bethlehem.

September 16–24, South Kensington.

Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room | Courtesy of the V&A
Ross Lovegrove’s Transmission | © Ross Lovegrove
Courtesy of the V&A

Cutting-edge works at Design Junction

King’s Cross will be transformed into a buzzing creative quarter from September 21–24, with more than 200 brands showcased across five destinations at Design Junction. The star of the show is the vibrant Gateways installation from Turkish Ceramics and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman. There will also be a gorgeous – and very Instagrammable – flower tunnel from Bloomon and an immersive experience from Renault where you’ll be able to see what driving will be like in the future. Get your design fix at pop-up shopping venue The Canopy, where you’ll find everything from ceramics and jewellery to furniture and textiles for the home. There’s plenty of inspiring emerging talent at the Rado Star Prize exhibition, plus there will be a range of engaging talks and workshops to get involved in, including ‘Drawing Design’ and ‘Campari Creates Masterclasses’ at Central St Martins.

September 21–24, King’s Cross Creative Quarter.

Courtesy of Design Junction

Lee Broom’s On Reflection

Part of the jam-packed Shoreditch Design Triangle is British designer Lee Broom’s On Reflection installation, which will celebrate a decade in the design industry. His exhibits never fail to impress and this one is sure to be his best yet. Broom will be transforming his store with a Deco-inspired, moody scheme to showcase the new, limited-edition capsule collection of his most iconic designs from the past 10 years, all reinterpreted in black. And, if you’re in the area, it’s worth popping by Restoration Station around the corner for one of its workshops, which will be running throughout the event, or taking a visit to the Geffrye Museum up the road for its annual ceramics fair.

September 20–24, 95 Rivington Street, Shoreditch.

Courtesy of Lee Broom

Design Frontiers

International designers will be pushing the boundaries of design in this exciting exhibition at Somerset House. These 30 leading names will be creating collaborative installations for Design Frontiers, demonstrating the ways in which they are testing the frontiers of the industry, whether its redefining the chandelier or creating sustainable furniture. Don’t miss Jaguar’s two-room installation that will highlight the creative process behind designing the classically beautiful, yet highly technical, cars of the future. Plus – see real designers working on live projects at PriestmanGoode’s Please Don’t Feed the Designers installation.

September 18–24, Terrace Rooms & West Wing Galleries, Somerset House, Strand.

'Luminous Reflections' by Tord Boontje for Swarovski | Courtesy of London Design Festival

CitizenM x Yinka Ilori’s Estate Playground

In a similarly playful theme of Walala’s pop-up castle, citizenM London Bankside Hotel, collaborating with African artist Yinka Ilori, is set to transform its entrance into a brightly coloured playground, inspired by the bold patterns of traditional Nigerian textiles. It will draw on Ilori’s African roots but also his experience of growing up on a council estate in north London and the sense of community and friendship he found there.

September 16–24, citizenM London Bankside Hotel, Shoreditch.

Estate Playground by Yinka Ilori x citizenM | Courtesy of CitizenM

Brixton’s Design Trail and ‘Design Circus’

Brixton’s uniting theme this year is ‘Love is Power’, with Sam Furness and Toni Hollis’ thought-provoking Untranslation installation taking centre stage in Brixton Village and Market Row. A series of flags will hang from the gables, illustrating a range of emotions and feelings that can’t directly be translated into English, celebrating the diverse and complex nature of Brixton’s melting pot of cultures. You won’t want to miss ‘Design Circus’, an arts and crafts market held in the spectacular new home of Squire and Partners, The Department Store. Local designer-makers will be selling their wares over the weekend of September 23–24, plus there will be interactive installations and workshops – be sure to book your spot at Bobbin & Bow’s to learn how to make a colourful Polish Pajaki chandelier.

The design trail runs from September 16–24; ‘Design Circus’ at The Department Store runs from September 23–24.

Pajaki chandelier | Courtesy of Brixton Design Trail

Dutch Stuff and Swedish Design Moves

LDF is a cultural celebration of works from around the world, bringing together approximately 500 exhibitors from 31 different countries. For the first time at the fair, Dutch designers will take the spotlight in one of the 13 country-pavilions, celebrating the 100th anniversary of De Stijl and the evolution of the country’s design with a curated mix of product, art, fashion and installations from more than 60 designers. Scandi lovers should head to Swedish Design Moves’ debut stand, where you’ll find everything from innovative lighting designed by Swedish Ninja to vibrant and abstract furniture from Future Days. Everything is created by designers hailing from the trend-setting design capital Malmö.

September 21–24, Old Truman Brewery, Spitafields.

Minus Tio, Swedish Design Pavilion | Courtesy of London Design Festival

For more information on what’s happening at London Design Festival, which runs from September 16–24, check out the website here.

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