10 exhibitions to catch at this year's London Design Festival

London – This edition of the London Design Festival features 11 design districts, five trade shows and a design forum with more than 40 speakers. To make the most of your time there, which exhibitions and installations should be on your agenda? We’ve compiled a list of 10 suggestions.

 

[1] PLEASE FEED THE LIONS

Artist and designer Es Devlin is taking over Trafalgar Square with an interactive sculpture. The London landmark has had four monumental lions sitting at the base of Nelson’s Column for 150 years, and from September 18, a fifth one – albeit fluorescent red and equipped with AI capabilities – will be joining them. Every day, this guest feline will ‘roar’ a poem made up of words chosen by the public. Eat your heart out, Aslan.

Devlin partnered up with Google Arts & Culture for this project, and the internet giant will be using its platform to amplify the roars far beyond the square: the experience will be available through an online exhibition worldwide.

 

 

[2] THE ECO TOWNHOUSE

Danish furniture company Montana is turning Skandium’s four-storey townhouse in South Kensington into an exhibition that shows how to minimize environmental impact while decorating one’s home. The Eco Townhouse will feature, exclusively, Scandinavian design products with a high level of ethical commitment – that is, from sustainably sourced materials to responsible manufacture or corporate responsibility initiatives.

And their ultimate goal? To show that ‘sustainability is profitable,’ as Montana CEO Joakim Lassen explained. ‘That is why we work according to high-quality standards to ensure that our furniture will survive from generation to generation and can be moved from room to room as the home’s needs change.’

 

 

[3] ALPHABET

Looking for a playground fit for the children at heart? Head to Finsbury Avenue Square, where Kellenberger-White is presenting a bespoke typeface that comes to life through a series of moveable alphabet stools. Commissioned by British Land, the seats are painted in colours lifted from International Marine Paint’s palette – most notably, the International Orange used on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

 

 

[4] READY MADE GO 4

For the fourth successful year in a row, the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch has asked local designers to use the excuse of a hotel’s need for door knobs and coat hooks and the like to rethink how the public interacts with a hospitality space. This edition, curated by Modern Design Review’s Laura Houseley, will feature five items by Laetitia de Allegri, William Dry and m-l-xl: a collection of tabletop accessories, afternoon tea stands, a games table for the lobby and wall hooks for every bedroom.

 

 

[5] TRACE

It’s not your imagination: the air does feel different on Regent Street – but not in the way you might expect. Due to its iconic curve and the height of its Regency buildings, it has a higher wind speed than any other street in central London. Architecture Social Club harnessed that peculiarity by creating Trace, a swarm-like suspended installation that uses the resulting rippling movements to create the sense of a living, social ecosystem.

 

 

[6] THE ONION FARM

The V&A’s Tapestries Galleries is kept dark in order to preserve the colours of the impressive pieces of weaving housed inside. When he visited the gallery, fashion designer – and Frame 96 cover boy – Henrik Vibskov thought he felt like a bulb growing from underground.

That impression lead to the creation of The Onion Farm, a structure made of red textile ‘onions’ that spins along the space’s 25 metres from end to end. ‘Inspired by the depiction of grand nature scenes in the tapestries and the variety of wildlife tableaus, this installation, in the same way, refers to nature elements, shapes and colours, but perhaps also comments on the hyper-industrialised state of agriculture today,’ explained Vibskov.

 

 

[7] SISAL SANCTUM

Mexican designer Fernando Laposse turned to sisal, a natural fibre harvested from agaves in his home country, to create two lounge areas at the citizenM hotel. Visitors who choose to relax in the fur-like sisal walls and carpets will be protected from the furious pace of East London by two sisal guardians.

While these beings and the objects they guard look quite sweet, their backstory is actually bitter: with the invention of nylon, the gigantic sisal industry in Mexico shrank considerably, affecting the many Mayan communities employed due to their ancestral knowledge of harvesting techniques. With this installation, Laposse hopes to bring back to the spotlight the manufacturing virtues of this biodegradable material.

 

 

[8] MIND PILOT

You can do anything you put your mind to… including controlling an airship with nothing but your brainwaves. With Loop.pH’s installation at the Design Museum, one ‘pilot’ at a time will be able to steer the balloon through a monitoring system that reads the wearer’s heart rate and brain activity. This bodes well for an inclusive future where neural bridges allow people with varying physical abilities to control outside computerised objects. For those scared of technology finally figuring out a way to listen to our thoughts, though, it’s as exciting as it is scary.

 

 

[9] MULTIPLY

Nothing like a maze to make us reconsider the way we design our spaces. For Waugh Thistleton Architects and ARUP, that’s precisely the goal of MultiPly, a modular pavilion with layers of overlapping and intertwined modules – 17 of them, to be precise. The structure is built out of tulipwood, a strong yet light material that’s provides a more affordable alternative to walnut.

‘The main ambition of this project is to publicly debate how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative, affordable construction,’ said co-founder Andrew Waugh about the V&A installation. ‘We are at a crisis point in terms of both housing and CO2 emissions, and we believe that building in a versatile, sustainable material such as tulipwood is an important way of addressing these issues.’

 

 

[10] REMIXED PROPERTIES

Artist Lorenzo Vitturi is turning the archives of Established & Sons into raw material for a colourful set of site-specific works in the brand’s Shoreditch showroom. ‘It’s going to be a complete reinvention of the function of each product,’ said the Italian polymath. ‘It will be quite extreme, but it will also celebrate the materials, textures and colours of Established & Sons.’

The London Design Festival is taking place from September 15-23

Billboard: LEEDLeaf - US Green Building Council
Billboard: LEEDLeaf - US Green Building Council

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