With London Design Festival starting this weekend, design editor Augusta Pownall picks her top 12 must-see installations, events and exhibitions, including a poetry-spouting lion and a huge tea party.
London Design Festival 2018 takes place from 15 to 23 September. Featuring more than 400 events, this annual celebration of design takes place across 11 designated design districts and also includes a series of landmark projects.
As usual, the VA museum in South Kensington provides the festival‘s hub and is the site of a number of installations. Other highlights can be found in the Shoreditch Design Triangle in the east, and in Marylebone Design District to the west.
Here’s our pick of the top 12 things to see:
This show will display seven furniture pieces designed in collaboration with studios from Montevideo and inspired by original drawings of modernist Uruguayan architect Julio Vilamajó. Examples include a suede bench by Studio Diario and a chair by Carolina Palombo Píriz that was knitted by local weavers.
Curator Matteo Fogale dug into the archives of the carpenters who made Vilamajó’s furniture for inspiration, and photos and original drawings of these will be displayed alongside. Research and archive material, including details about the house the architect build for himself in 1930, from the Faculty of Architecture’s archives in Montevideo, will also be on display.
Tom Dixon will be celebrating moving his headquarters to Coal Drops Yard by exploring the realms of digital technology with a 1970s discotheque in a former railway arch and electronic musician Yuri Suzuki cutting records.
Leather experts Bill Amberg Studio will also present specially commissioned, digitally printed leather hides by Dixon, Faye Toogood, Timorous Beasties and others.
Part of an exhibition called Hyper Real that also includes five graphic fabrics printed with Kirkby Design, and charred carpets by Ege, it will feature upholstery demonstrations each day at 10am and 2pm.
Tom Dixon showroom, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH
Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art
Alongside Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, Marx defined mid-century design. Best known for her London Underground textiles, she also created textiles for the wartime Utility Furniture Scheme, patterned paper for Curwen Press, designed book covers for King Penguin and the stamps for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, N1C 4BH
An exhibition at the Zaha Hadid-designed Roca London Gallery poses the controversial question of whether, used responsibly, personal data could be the key to better urban design. It also explores how we have previously sought to understand cities, particularly through the work of pioneering American urbanist Jane Jacobs.
With modern methods of mapping urban areas using tools such as OpenStreetMap and tracking the density of mobile phone calls we can now use big data to learn about how public spaces are used from the ground up rather than by looking at satellite images, but should we?
A talk at the gallery on Monday 17 September at 6:30pm will further explore studying the patterns of our lives through data.
VA Sackler Courtyard, Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
Viaduct will present a five-woman show exploring the simplicity of materials through an exploration of the building blocks of each designer’s practice.
The chosen contributors are Ilse Crawford of Studioilse, Farah Ebrahimi of e15, Nani Marquina, Nina Maso of Santa Cole and Fien Muller or Muller Van Severen.
Crawford’s study of materials, from metal waste to nettle fibres, will sit beside a living room space designed by Ebrahimi that includes both furniture and her favourite books and a series of mini installations or “one minute worlds” from Fien Muller.
Viaduct showroom, 1-10 Summers St, EC1R 5BD
Please Feed the Lions
An LED screen embedded in the lion’s mouth will show lines of poetry generated using new machine learning technology. Words fed to the lion by the public by typing into a screen next to the lion itself in Trafalgar Square will be combined with words thrown up by an algorithm trained on the work of 19th century poets from the period in which the four original lions were cast.
At night, the poetry will be projected onto the lion’s body and onto Nelson’s Column, and the project will be simultaneously available online.
Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
The 20 studios at the site are due to be demolished for redevelopment but in the meantime Assemble, which recently completed the Goldsmith Centre of Contemporary Art, aims to offer a co-working space for artists and makers, complete with wood workshop and mill.
The space is currently occupied by a range of practitioners including ceramicists, graphic designers and architects, and the nature of the space encourages collaboration, which will be open for visitors to see.
Time for Tea
These will take place on a six-metre-long table, using over 80 products from all over the world. All the furniture will be designed by the Dutch studio in the distinctive Fortnum’s eau de nil green, with marble floor and tables by Luce di Carrara, curtains by Maharam, and an exquisite porcelain tea set designed in Arita, Japan.
Fortnum Masons, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
A World of Ordinary Things
These include the new Reclaimed chair from the 1 Inch collection by Jasper Morrison for Emeco, made from 90 pre cent industrial waste material, as well as new designs from Piet Hein Eek, Philippe Malouin and Matthew Hilton.
Also on display will be the Bürstenhaus Redecker Müseum which comprises 45 carefully chosen brushes made by the eponymous company in Versmold, Germany since 1935.
An eight-minute six-channel musical composition entitled The Morrison Canon by 6 Agents by Anthony Moore will also feature.
SCP showroom, 135-139 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3BX
Digital artist Jason Bruges, who previously produced a glowing glass block wall for Sunderland train station, was commissioned to produce a 21-metre-long kinetic installation for Beech Street tunnel, better known as the road tunnel under the Barbican Centre.
Beech Street, EC2Y 8DS
The Aram Gallery, 110 Drury Ln, WC2B 5SG
Blythe House tours
The Archive of Art and Design (AAD) was established in 1978 to house the VA’s growing holdings of archival material from graphic design to metalwork to exhibition design. The Grade-II listed Edwardian building houses the overflow of the museum‘s vast art and design collections, as well as theatre and performance artefacts.
On Friday 21 September at 3pm, the estate manager Glenn Benson will lead a tour of the highlights.
Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, W14 0HA