LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ITS 17th EDITION IN THE CAPITAL WITH A CITYWIDE CELEBRATION OF DESIGN
OVERVIEW OF LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL 2019
London Design Festival returns to the capital for its 17th year this September 2019 with an inspiring programme of events
and installations across the city. This year also marks 11 years with the V&A as a collaborating partner and the official
Festival hub. During the Festival, the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance will once again play host to a series of specially-commissioned projects by internationally-renowned designers.
Initially established in 2003 by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans, London Design Festival is an annual citywide celebration that brings together a global community of designers, artists, architects and the creative industries with a vision to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world. Since its inception, London Design Festival has grown to encompass a broad range of activities, and attracts visitors from around the world: the 2018 Festival welcomed a record-breaking 588,000 direct visitors from over 75 countries generating almost 1 million visits.
London Design Festival Director, Ben Evans says, “London has the biggest creative economy in the world, and design is a key part of it. London Design Festival celebrates and promotes London’s design excellence in a period when showcasing creativity is even more important.”
For the nine days of the Festival, the unique collaboration with the V&A will once again see iconic spaces within the Museum transformed by a curated collection of displays and installations. The Museum will also play host to London Design Festival’s thought leadership programme, Global Design Forum, which celebrates design with an inspirational lineup of talks, debates, daily tours and workshops. In 2018, London Design Festival and Global Design Forum helped drive 170,000 visitors to the Museum during the Festival’s tenure.
Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A says: “The V&A is once again proud to be the Festival hub for this year’s London Design Festival, bringing to life an ambitious programme of events and installations which celebrate London’s role as the design capital of the world. The Festival is a wonderful opportunity for leading figures from the international creative community to engage with the V&A’s world-class collections of art, design and performance.”
The Festival receives support from the Mayor’s Office and is delighted to continue its long-standing partnership with British Land as Headline Partner.
Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons, said: “Each year the London Design Festival hosts a truly inspiring programme of events, bringing together designers from across the world and demonstrating our position as an international creative powerhouse. The creative industries are responsible for one in six jobs in London and the Festival sends a clear message that London is open to great ideas, creativity and innovation.”
PLEASE BE SEATED
SUPPORTED BY BRITISH LAND
FURTHER SUPPORT FROM WHITE & WHITE LONDON
FINSBURY AVENUE SQUARE, BROADGATE
British designer Paul Cocksedge is transforming Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate with Landmark Project, Please Be Seated. Located in the heart of Broadgate – a diverse hub connecting innovation and finance – the project will be the most ambitious of British Land’s commissions to date.
The large-scale installation, fuses innovation and technology, and responds to the changing rhythm of the community: its design features curves for people to sit on and walk under, further enhancing London's largest pedestrianised neighbourhood. Made from scaffolding planks, Paul Cocksedge is collaborating with Essex-based flooring company, White&White, to re-imagine and re-use the building wood.
“Every single aspect of the installation is tailored to its environment as well as the function it serves. 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,” says Cocksedge.
As part of the Festival, Broadgate will also collaborate with Shoreditch Design Triangle to host an exhibition and talks as well as a special Design Night in Finsbury Avenue Square.
Chief Executive of British Land, Chris Grigg said: “Design is integral to everything we do at British Land so we’re delighted to continue our partnership with London Design Festival for the fourth consecutive year. We truly believe good design has the power to create places where people want to be and where people want to spend time.”
DAN TOBIN SMITH + THE EXPERIENCE MACHINE
SUPPORTED BY GEMFIELDS
COLLINS THEATRE, ISLINGTON, N1
Designer Dan Tobin Smith and The Experience Machine present VOID, a multi-sensory spatial installation at Collins Theatre, Islington.
Tobin Smith has collaborated with The Experience Machine and Gemfields to create an environmental installation exploring the physical boundaries found within the worlds of natural inclusions in gemstones. The formation of these stones is a rare geological process, with each unique example being a ‘one of a kind’ combination of material trapped inside a mineral during formation. Tobin Smith magnifies these tiny microcosms to discover abstract, galaxy-like structures – hidden worlds contained within the size of a fingertip.
The installation considers the concept of containment and relative scale, employing spatial design to explore the natural borders formed within these unique minerals’ arrangements. By translating moving image into a contained physical form and scoring the experience with harmonised layers of the human voice by female drone choir Nyx, visitors are invited to enter within the portrait of a gemstone’s natural inclusion. The space directs the audience to lose their tangible location and immerse themselves between blurring boundaries of nature, experience and design.
SUPPORTED BY VICTORIA BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL PLAZA
We are delighted to announce a Festival Commission Project for London Design Festival 2019 with Patternity, to be located at Westminster Cathedral Piazza. The project is supported by the Victoria Business Improvement District.
Further details will be announced soon.
SUPPORTED BY GROSVENOR BRITAIN & IRELAND
SOUTH MOLTON, LONDON
Camille Walala returns to London Design Festival in a characteristically colourful manner. The French-born designer has been commissioned by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland to energise and enliven South Molton Street, in the heart of London’s West End, with a bold and beautiful family of street furniture. Combining head-turning colour and geometric shapes in monumental proportions, the 11 unique benches of Walala Lounge will give visitors something unexpected to look at – and to sit on.
Fully pedestrianised and lined with a variety of British and international boutiques and cafés, South Molton will be transformed into a place to pause. Walala’s vision is to transform the street into an open-air urban living room – a place for people to come together, chat and relax – and to disrupt the hectic pace and mundane with a burst of colour and irrepressible joy into the retail heart of central London. The Walala Lounge will comprise an unpredictable array of cuboids, cylinders and arches made from brushed steel and Tricoya® MDF, while a number of the designs incorporate planters and rug-like bases to enhance their engaging, home-like appeal.
As 3D sculptural objects, the benches mark Walala’s continuing evolution from two to three dimensions – a process which began in 2017 when she created Landmark Project Villa Walala for the Festival in Exchange Square, Broadgate - her playful castle installation constructed from soft vinyl building blocks.
PROJECTS AT THE V&A
Celebrating 11 years with the V&A as the official London Design Festival hub, this unique collaboration sees iconic spaces within the Museum transformed each year by an extraordinary collection of specially-commissioned installations and displays by international contemporary designers.
Dr Christopher Turner, Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital, V&A, says, “For over a decade, the V&A has been privileged to be the central hub of London Design Festival, which provides an opportunity to make a powerful statement about the role design can play in engaging with big themes, responding creatively to local and global issues, and in helping us to become better citizens. We want to promote and democratise access to the very latest design thinking and practices, explore innovation, look afresh at the V&A collections, and inspire the next generation of designers and innovators.”
SUPPORTED BY THE AMERICAN HARDWOOD EXPORT COUNCIL
Sir John Sorrell, Chairman of London Design Festival, has invited leaders of London’s cultural institutes to collaborate with some of the world’s most prolific designers to create a ‘Legacy’ piece of design – an object of personal or professional relevance to them that they would like to pass on to a family member or the institute they currently lead afterwards.
The pieces – 10 in total - will be beautifully 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. The pieces will be presented as a group exhibition at the V&A in September, after which they will relocate to the homes or institutes of each of the commissioners.
The 10 designers and commissioners are as follows:
Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, will work with Jasper Morrison
Sir Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive, Science Museum Group, will work with Marlene Huissoud
Hans Ulrich-Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, will work with Studiomama
Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House, will work with Terence Woodgate
Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO, British Film Institute, will work with Sebastian Cox
Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director, English National Ballet, will work with Martino Gamper
Dr Maria Balshaw CBE, Director, Tate, will work with Max Lamb
Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Art Gallery, will work with Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay, Raw Edges
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director, Young Vic, will work with Tomoko Azumi
Sir John Sorrell CBE will work with Juliet Quintero
“We called upon cultural leaders in London and asked if they would like to contribute to this thought-provoking project,” says Sir John Sorrell. “We then invited some of the world’s top designers and were delighted when everybody immediately said yes.”
“AHEC is always pushing the boundaries for American hardwoods and we wanted to create a project that celebrates the use of red oak to demonstrate not just how beautiful it is for furniture making, but also to test the performance and quality of this abundant wood,” says David Venables, European Director, AHEC. “It’s a fabulous project with incredible designers. We can’t wait to see what emerges from these unique collaborations.”
Sean Sutcliffe, Founder of Benchmark Furniture, says: “I am looking forward to working with some designers that we have not worked with before, and re-engaging with some that we have. I’m going to be interested to see what they come up with in a ‘single material’ like American Red Oak – and in such a short timeframe. I am also excited to get a brief glimpse into the personal thinking of some of the leaders of London’s major cultural institutions.”
SUPPORTED BY BOLETY AND TRISH DUGGAN
FURTHER SUPPORT BY THE CZECH EMBASSY IN LONDON, CZECH CENTRE LONDON AND TECHO MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE GALLERIES, V&A
Rony Plesl´s unique glass installation draws inspiration from fire and wood – key components of glass making - and from the idea of Sacred Geometry, a universal language organising all visible and invisible reality according to basic geometrical principles. The hexagonal glass tree trunks are an artistic expression of this system. Two identical branches – ‘twins’ – are a continuation of the trunks and manifest an attempt at creation from the same principles in an identical environment. Made of uranium glass they emanate an other-worldly green fluorescent light.
Large glass pieces are possible thanks to a new ground-breaking glass technology of melted glass developed by the Czech company Bolety, which exclusively cooperates with Plesl. London Design Festival and the V&A will host the international premiere of this technology. This new technology enables casting of all 3D objects without any limitations in regards to design or form, giving cast glass the same possibilities as bronze for example. It provides glass designers with an opportunity to work outside the previous parameters of having one solid surface on the casted object.
This glowing glass forest, located in the Medieval and Renaissance galleries, also reflects on the history of Czech glass, which is richly represented in the V&A’s collection, whilst adding a new chapter to the tradition.
BRITISH GALLERY, V&A
Canadian designer Matthew McCormick fuels thoughtful introspection on the effects of climate change through his experiential exhibit, Avalanche, conspicuously positioned on the landing of the V&A’s British Gallery. Inherently out of place in the classically historic space, Avalanche is strategically situated to provoke profoundly personal reactions from each visitor that passes through: a designer’s interpretation of a suspended moment in time where we are faced with a mindful revelation of our own mortality.
On entering, small groups of visitors will find a lowly lit, deceptively reflective space, bringing a sense of entrapment and confusion around the uncertain pathway through. Grappling with the darkness and its narrow constrictions within, visitors are urged to pause in a heightened sense of consciousness as they toy with the innate human instinct to find the safest route out.
“Inspiration for this project was found in the role that human factors make in our decision-making on uncertain backcountry terrain,” says McCormick. “Avalanche can be seen as a poetic metaphor, meant to offer an opportunity for visitors to take pause between the darkness and the light – even for just a brief moment,” he adds. “We recognise that a critical mass is required to instigate societal change when it comes to the shifts in our environment, however this collective awareness has to start with the individual and the personal decisions they choose to make.”
To achieve a feeling of isolation, high gloss surfaces are utilised to create physical restriction and expansive reflections.
Avalanche employs Barrisol’s versatile and sustainable material which can be stretched and moulded to precision.
AFFINITY IN AUTONOMY
DESIGNED AND SUPPORTED BY SONY DESIGN
THE PRINCE CONSORT GALLERY, V&A
Translating innovation into perceptual experiences is the theme for the creation of this interactive robotic pendulum: Affinity in Autonomy.
The independence and free-will of robotics is portrayed by its random movements. Human presence can be detected and recognition appears from within the kinetic motion. Exhibiting a rich, dynamic and autonomous behavior, the pendulus engages visitors seeking an emotional and physical response. This conceptual piece endeavours to portray emotion and sensitivity, illustrating the enriched relationship possibilities for a new tomorrow.
Affinity in Autonomy represents thoughts on the future of AI and Robotics: envisioning a world in which intelligence, technology and creative design are more integrated. Sony Design believe that the relationship between humans and technology will evolve, through deeper understanding of Artificial Intelligence and its ability to display feelings.
provides a magnificent context for this experience.
OTHER DISPLAYS TAKING PLACE DURING LDF AT THE V&A WILL INCLUDE:
Bamboo Futures, Elora Hardy, IBUKU, 14-22 September: Bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable building materials with the potential to revolutionise construction methods around the globe. It releases 35% more oxygen than trees and within 3 years a new shoot can be harvested for use. Bamboo’s strength is comparable to that of steel while also having the flexibility to create dramatic form. Bali-based designer Elora Hardy and her team at IBUKU construct bamboo buildings across the world, with every IBUKU building devised using a bamboo model. This installation of miniature buildings, on display for the first time ever, demonstrates how IBUKU’s model-making is both integral to their creative process and an invaluable tool throughout construction. The installation is made possible thanks to IBUKU, Atelier One, and Millimetre.
This Much Im Worth, Rachel Ara, 21-22 September: This much I’m worth (275"x 82"x 45") is a digital installation by Rachel Ara that continually displays its sale value in Korean Won through a series of complex algorithms called "the endorsers". The artwork’s materials connect with the history of neon and its use in the sex trade. It is both a functional object and spectacle seeking to question values, worth and algorithmic bias through gender and technology. This is a highly complex piece engineered solely by women craftspeople. The build process zooms in on industries where women have been largely excluded, for example welding, programming, technical design and neon blowing.
Kalos Stasis, Lucy Hardcastle and Cellule Studio, 14-22 September: Kalos Stasis is a sensorial and interactive installation enacting the unseen flow of the most vital organ, the heart. The piece aims to make visible our own body’s enduring ability to return to a state of balance, a balance which maintains life. The installation takes scientific data and translates it into a poetic experience through an immersive experience giving the sense of an amniotic chamber through touch, sight and sound.
The Exhibition Road Day of Design, 22 September: In collaboration with neighbours in Albertopolis - Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Royal College of Art, Imperial College and Serpentine Gallery – the V&A will host a street festival that will look at the role design thinking can play in responding to the climate emergency.
Students from the RCA will work with charities to build furniture from exhibition waste, upcycling material to create tables and seating designed in the fashion of the Enzo Mari Autoprogrettazione manual. A public feast will take place on this furniture using produce that would otherwise go to waste - each table will be hosted by an expert on sustainability, climate change, supply chains and other relevant disciplines for a day of sharing food and ideas to respond to the climate emergency.
EXHIBITIONS ALSO ON SHOW DURING LDF AT THE V&A:
Mary Quant, 6 April 2019-16 February 2020: This exhibition is the first international retrospective on the revolutionary fashion designer in nearly 50 years, and brings together over 200 objects, the majority of which have never been on public display.
FOOD: Bigger than the Plate, 18 May – 20 October 2019: FOOD is a bold exhibition that explores the exciting innovation and ingenuity of individuals, communities and organisations that are radically re-inventing how we grow, distribute and experience food.
Tim Walker, 21 September 2019 – 8 March 2020: This exhibition is an immersive journey into the fantastical worlds created by photographer Tim Walker. It will shine a light on the important roles played by set designers, stylists, make-up artists, models and muses, who all help bring Walker's unique ideas to life.
GLOBAL DESIGN FORUM
Global Design Forum is a week-long celebration of design and its power to change the world. A series of talks, discussions and workshops, the Forum lifts the lid on the most innovative thinking in the world of design today. Visitors will be inspired by pioneers that are changing the way we design and live, refreshing their thinking and rebooting their understanding of the power and potential of design as a force for good.
In 2018, 45 speakers from 20 countries shared their perspectives on designing for how we live today, and the world we want to inhabit tomorrow. Previous speakers include Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Michael Beirut, Es Devlin, Zaha Hadid, Jaime Hayon, Thomas Heatherwick, Paul Priestman, Faye Toogood, and Camille Walala,.
DESIGN DISTRICTS, DESIGN DESTINATIONS AND DESIGN ROUTES
As a citywide event, London Design Festival is an essential platform for the capital’s major tradeshows taking place across London, including: 100% Design, designjunction, Focus/19 and London Design Fair. These shows feature work from a local and international network of both new and established exhibitors.
In 2019, there will be 10 official Design Districts from East to West; North to South. Design Districts are areas where there are distinct concentrations of design activity and events that can be traversed easily on foot. Each District is organised locally and independently via the platform of London Design Festival. This year will see a new Design District taking part in the Festival; Kings Cross Design District.
It joins Bankside Design District, Brompton Design District, Clerkenwell Design Quarter, Marylebone Design District, Mayfair Design District, Pimlico Road Design District, Shoreditch Design Triangle, Victoria Connections Design District and West Kensington Design District.
In addition, we are delighted to welcome back Paddington Central Design Route as a Design Route.
NOTES TO EDITORS
ABOUT LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL
Established in 2003 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans, London Design Festival celebrates and promotes London as the design capital of the world.
London Design Festival has since earned the reputation as a key calendar moment of London’s autumn creative season, alongside London Fashion Week, Frieze Art Fair and the London Film Festival, attracting the greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to the capital, in a citywide celebration.