27 June 2017 | 16.2 °C

Top Things To Do At London Design Festival 2015

Kyra Hanson
By Kyra Hanson Last edited 21 months ago
Top Things To Do At London Design Festival 2015
Heartbeat by Charles Pétillon in Covent Garden: Photo by Katherine from the Londonist Flickr Pool

Elaborate installations, architectural tours and exhibitions showcasing innovative design will take over London from 19-27 September for London Design Festival. The event celebrates the full spectrum of design and the creative geniuses behind everything from our built environment and the functional items we rely on, to the decorative details we admire.

This year's festival is one of epic proportions — featuring nearly 400 events — a daunting prospect even for the most hardy design buffs. We've picked out our top selection of events for you to peruse. Most are free and the festival caters to a wide range of ages and tastes.

Explore the exhibitions and installations at the Design Museum

50 years of British road signs:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the British road signage system as designed by Calvert and Kinneir. The Design Museum is celebrating with a free installation of new and original signs, plus archive material curated by MADE NORTH.

Our bond with brands:
Brands like Coca-Cola, Campbell's soup and Starbucks are instantly recognisable, but are they weapons of corporate power or do they represent something more? Find out in this pop-up exhibition exploring our bond with brands.

Designers in Residence 2015:
Migration is the topic of this year's Designers in Residence which sees four emerging talents take over a gallery in the museum to provoke discussion from the public.

Disegno walk:
Escape the confines of the museum and follow this Disegno design walk which takes London's creative studios and you'll also hear from the people who work in them. Each walk ends with a tour of exhibition.

Brixton Design Trail

Explore a Kaleidoscope of curiosities on Brixton Design Trail

The Brixton Design Trail kicks off on 19 September with nine days' worth of free events, installations, exhibitions and talks in various locations including Brixton Village Market, Pop Brixton, Reliance Arcade, Brixton East 1871 and the Black Cultural Archives. Look down and you'll notice key locations are carpeted with a pattern specially created to represent the spirit of Brixton.

Artists, architects and designers will collaborate with local shop owners and transform derelict spaces into design masterpieces; Passage Tells offers a site specific audio storytelling experience of traders inside Reliance Arcade. The Brixton Street Gallery will feature original art work created by local artists on the facades of the former Bon Marche department store. Local design studio 2MZ will transform Black Cultural Archives’ courtyard inspired by the forthcoming Black Georgians exhibition; pick up jewellery, cards, afro-inspired dolls, from stalls around Brixton. Plus look out for an Alice in Wonderland flowerbed outside Lambeth Town Hall, and Artbooty - a car boot sale with a difference created by Brixi— inside the former furniture factory Brixton East 1871.

designjunction

Designjunction

designjunction is spread over four days at Central Saint Martins and Victoria House. Bring your dosh to spend in the 50 pop-up shops, take part in live workshops, design masterclasses or hop on a tokyobike tour to take in the giant installations.

Feeling peckish? Eat in a pop-up wooded tube station designed by TfL. Got an interior design query? Book one of Nest.co.uk’s complimentary daily design clinics, where interior designer duo Two Lovely Gays will solve whatever challenges you throw at them.

Look out for a herd of customised elephants at Victoria House B1 — part of designjunction’s charity project and live auction A Child’s Dream.

Design Uncovered:

Transport for London's depot in Acton is hosting an open house weekend on the 26-27 September where you can explore a whopping 370,000 objects related to London's public transport. From the development of the first tube map to the secrets behind moquette design there's something to keep everyone's attention. Check the website for tickets. Highlights include:

  • See the original printing blocks used for the Johnston font – London Transport’s iconic typeface
  • Expert talks on London's public transport
  • Find out how moquette – the seat covering on the tube – is made, from design to manufacture, with a talk from Harriet Wallace-Jones, of the award winning Wallace#Sewell textile design studio
  • Family workshops and family tours
  • Film screenings from the LTM archives

Explore the installations at the V&A:

The V&A is the central hub of the festival. Alongside its current exhibitions on Luxury and Shoes, each day of the festival will be dedicated to a different aspect of the design world. Masterclasses, tours, talks, pop-up performances and drop-in workshops will explore themes of graphics, luxury, future, makers, international, industry and digital.  

  • The Tower of Babel installation created by artist Barnaby Barford out of bone china takes the shape of the shop fronts that are spread throughout the city. Good luck trying to find your local among the 3,000.
  • Curiosity Cloud sees 250 mouth-blown glass globes dangle from the ceiling, each containing a single hand-fabricated insect — each one printed onto foil, which has been laser cut and then hand embroidered to create the body. Sounds impressive right? The idea is to explore our connection to nature.
  • Mexican architect Frida Escabedo has installed a series of platforms with reflective surfaces to make us rethink our cultural exchanges. The mirrored stages offer us alternative views of the buildings around us as well as each other.
  • The Exhibition Road Project Display is an ambitious project which uses models, sketches and mock ups to create a large-scale installation, in fact it's the largest the V&A has attempted in the last 100 years.
  • The Global Design Forum features masterclasses with experts in the fields of graphics, luxury, future, makers, international, industry and digital.

Somerset House  

The Drawing Room by Faye Toogood at Somerset House
  • In April #Poweredbytweets asked for entrants for their ideas for solving a problem or creating something beautiful using Twitter. The results are displayed in a free exhibition featuring wacky proposals like air pollution patrol via pigeons, or tweet-controlled hospital recovery rooms,
  • The Drawing Room is an installation which evokes a derelict country house through drawing alone. We wouldn't advise leaning on the walls, which are decorated with charcoal on plastic.
  • My Grandfather's Tree explores the relationship between family bonds and nature, the tree in question no longer resembles a tree but furniture carved from the wood.

100% design

The biggest design event in the UK is in its 20th year and promises to be packed with tons of collaborations between designers as well as an exhibition space filled with five distinct stations dedicated to: Interiors, Design & Build, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Workplace and Emerging Brands all held at Earls Court.  

Find your nearest design district

Design Districts are concentrated areas of creativity across London which bring together local retailers, galleries designers and organisations. This year there's an additional Design District in the shape of Bankside.

  • Bankside Design District reaches from Borough Market to the Oxo Tower. Walking tours, exhibitions and outdoor installations will showcase the area's creative diversity. Join the tour of metal in Bankside, a signwriting workshop and check out Emily Young's stone sculpture garden. Late night opening 23 September
  • Brompton Design District is within walking distance of the V&A, the central festival hub. There are 30 exhibitions to see. Check out the colourful Serpentine Pavilion if you haven't done so yet. Late night opening on 24 September.
  • Chelsea Design Quarter is showcasing a diverse range of interiors, with demonstrations, workshops and talks with leading designers. Expect eccentric rugs, handmade carpets, and luxurious homeware. Late night opening on 21 September
  • Clerkenwell Design Quarter features an exhibition of 3D printed objects exploring design as inspired by nature at The Interface Showroom. Other exhibits include 3D printed furniture and an exhibition celebrating British jewellery plus a screening offering insight into the craft of jewellery making. Late night opening 22 September
  • Islington Design District is displaying chic designs of a range of products using a mix of materials from traditional to synthetic. Look out for bamboo lanterns, a cool USB lighting range and jazzy plant pot designs. Late night opening 22 September
  • Queens Park Design District will encompass a series of open studios, live design events, art installations, and workshops centred around Lonsdale Road, Salusbury Road and Kimberley Road. Check out the Applied Arts exhibition and the interior design school's annual exhibition celebrating the importance of interiors to our environment. Open studios 27 September and late night opening 24 September
  • Shoreditch Design Triangle is now in its seventh year and is the easiest to navigate. Participants include local galleries, shops and cafes. Head to Ace Hotel to recuperate from design mania. Check out the latest bespoke furniture at Restoration Station and hand-cast plant pots. Late night opening 22 September  

More free events

If you aren't worn out from all of the above check out Covent Garden's Beating Heart installation, the RIBA window displays and Battersea Art Station's exhibition featuring 100s of items inspired by the power station.

The London Design Festival runs from 19-27 September, taking place in different venues across London. Most events are free, some of them are ticketed: check the programme for full details of events.

London Transport Museum is offering London Design enthusiasts a chance to see three exhibitions at a discounted price.

Last Updated 18 September 2015