From 13 until 21 September London will be invaded by eccentric architecture and hyperbolic sculptures; yes, The London Design Festival is back. Now on its 11th edition, the festival celebrates all manner of design: from interior to graphic, landmark to furniture — the aim is to engage people on the idea that design is all around us.
The festival is open to everyone, so whether you’re an expert in the field or a total newbie, you’ll find something that tickles your fancy. Lots of events are free, too.
There are more than 300 events in all — a list that’s both impressive and a tad daunting. That’s why we’ve picked out the festival highlights.
Discover the World of John Lewis
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of London’s famous department store, the Design Museum dedicates a pop-up exhibition to John Lewis, from Monday 8 to Sunday 21 September. The display tracks the retailer’s influence on the British shopping landscape across a century and a half of trading, considering the design behind some of its everyday items. More than 100 pieces are on display and there are family activities as well. Entry to the exhibition is included in the museum ticket, which is £12.40 for adults and £9.30 for concessions.
See the V&A installations
The V&A is recognised as the main hub of the festival. It’s hosting a plethora of events and interactive installations. All of them will be on from 13 September until late October, free to enjoy:
- Double Space by Barber and Osgerby: Two giant mirrors are suspended on the ceiling of the Raphael Gallery, to provide visitors with a new perspective on the famous cartoons, and themselves.
- Breathless Beauty – Broken Beauty by Vanessa Jane Hall: This installation chronicles the loss of country houses in Britain during the 20th century, featuring an immersive audio-visual experience that takes you through various sparkling halls and faded corridors.
- The Wish List: Design legends asked ten emerging talents to come up with something they’ve always wanted: here are the results. Names include Paul Smith, Richard Rogers and Terence Conran.
- Crest by Zaha Hadid: Head to the internal garden to admire this installation — a redesign of the central pool. Exploring the relationship between solid and void, the sculpture will become a permanent feature of the ME Hotel in Dubai, in 2016.
- Candela: In the darkness of the Tapestry Gallery you will find a rotary machine made of 60 armatures which form a faceted clock face. Light patterns will modify the environment while you stare at the installation. Intriguing, no?
Head to the Old Truman Brewery
The Old Truman Brewery hosts two interior design shows, running from Wednesday 18 until Sunday 21 September: Tent London and Super Brands London. More than 280 companies from 29 countries are taking part in the fair, though there’s a focus on Japan and Norway. This is also an chance to explore the huge building in the heart of Brick Lane, as we did recently. Tickets are £8 for adults and £5 for concessions.
Discuss The Future Of Design At Global Design Forum
It’s a festival within the festival: Global Design Forum takes place from Monday 15 until Friday 19 September in different venues across London. The programme features a series of panel discussions and talks about the role of design in a sustainable future. Some of the highlights include Five Ideas to Shake the World which sees five entrepreneurs pitch their innovative creations to a panel of judges and The Masterclass Sessions which is dedicated to presentations from pioneering individuals such as Sir Peter Bazalgette, Liam Casey and David McCandless. Tickets for the talks are £20 and can be prebooked on the website.
Visit 100% Design
There are five main design destinations this year, and 100% Design promises to be the boldest. Running from Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 September, this is the 20th edition. Explore the festival-within-a-festival, which is divided into five zones: Interiors, Workplace, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Eco, Design & Build, and Emerging Brands. Tickets are £15 for adults and £10 for concessions, giving you access to debates and seminars happening throughout the festival.
Explore home design in Trafalgar Square
One of the most striking landmark projects of this year’s London Design Festival, A Place Called Home, will be installed in Trafalgar Square from Thursday 19 to Sunday 21 September, in collaboration with Airbnb. Four leading designers express their idea of home by creating four structures to be displayed in the square, which are free to view.
Find The Design District Closer To You
During this edition of the festival there are six main design districts all around the capital. Every district is organised independently with endorsement from The London Design Festival and is made up of free events happening within the borough:
- Brompton Design District is within walking distance of the V&A, the main festival hub. Expect temporary exhibitions, installations and product launches: the area hosts a late night opening on Thursday 18 September.
- Clerkenwell Design Quarter presents an architecture and design film festival happening across different venues. Expect film screening in design shops, design-focused video installations in art galleries, and even a leather masterclass — all for free. Late night opening on Tuesday 16 September.
- Islington Design District launches for the first time this year, taking place along Upper Street. Types of design included are jewellery, stationery and kitchen tables. Late night opening on Tuesday 16 September.
- Queens Park District is another new entry for this year’s festival. The highlight is a flag design project by Tom Dixon, Ron Arad and Bill Amberg: they’ll interpret the Union Jack in a display across Lonsdale Road. A whole day of design-themed celebrations takes place on Saturday 20 September.
- Shoreditch Design Triangle promises to be one of the most alternative design districts. Participants include local galleries, design stores, and also cafés, bars and even a hotel. Late night opening on Tuesday 16 September.
Watch out for September’s Art in London listing, where we’ll dedicate a special section to The London Design Festival 2014.
The London Design Festival runs from 13-21 September, taking place in different venues across London. Most of the events are free, some of them are ticketed: to find a specific event and its cost, check the Events page. Here you’ll find a search section.