London Design Festival: 7 Must-See Events

Expect to see brands, artists, architects and academics presenting their innovative, game-changing use of natural materials at London Design Festival, 15 - 23 September 2018

Your guide to London Design Week 2018, from South Kensington to King's Cross 

“London and design go hand in hand. It is part of our story.” Designer, and champion of the creative industries, Sir John Sorrell teamed up with fellow dilettante Ben Evans to launch the London Design Festival, 16 years ago. They wanted to set the city’s sparks of talent on fire, drawing the world’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to the Big Smoke like moths to a flame. To create a platform for hundreds of design stories to be added to its rich tapestry.

In 2017 these stories were told to 450,000 visitors from 75 countries and 2018 may even eclipse that record-breaking year. London will come alive with everything from space-themed raves to collectible reissues and celestial light installations, like Sé’s Collection IV by Ini Archibong (pictured above). Here are some of our highlights.

1. YOO, Kensington Olympia

When you put property entrepreneur John Hitchcox and designer Philippe Starck together you get YOO, “a pioneering vision for living” and an international design company that turns 20 next year. Over the past two decades, the company has worked with everyone who's anyone in the design industry, from Jade Jagger to Kelly Hoppen, as well as celebrity friends including Kate Moss. For her first foray into interiors, the supermodel who designed the Barnhouse for Lakes by Yoo, pictured below. As part of London Design Week, YOO is hosting an exhibition at 100% Design in Kensington Olympia to showcase its approach to creating communities and enhancing environments.

When: 19-22 September 2018 Time: Fri 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-5pm Price: Ticketed event Location: 100% Design, Mezzanine, Olympia London W14 

2. Dazzle, V&A 

This November a sequence of artistic ventures to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War reaches its crescendo. In celebration of this and London Design Week, Creative Studio at the V&A is being “dazzled” by design studio Pentagram in a project inspired by a type of experimental camouflage used during WW1. The idea of 'dazzle' was pioneered by British artist Norman Wilkinson, who prepared numerous designs in bewildering shapes and angles, designed to confuse the enemy as they struggled to make out the dazzle ships against shifting waves and clouds. Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, explains that the project aims to "give audiences the chance to reflect on a crucial moment when art and design contributed to saving lives in the First World War”.

Pentagram has reinterpreted 'dazzle' camouflage in a typographic exploration of the Wilfrid Wilson Gibson poem Suspense:

“As gaudy flies across a pewter plate / On the grey disc of the unrippling sea
Beneath an airless sullen sky of slate / Dazzled destroyers zizag relentlessly…”

When: 15-23 September 2018 Time: 10am - 5:45pm daily, 10pm close on Friday; Price: Free Entry Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge SW7 2RL 

3. The Art of Marquetry, LINLEY Belgravia 

LINLEY is famous for its elaborative marquetry, using woods and inlay in an innovative, unique way. You might not appreciate just how labour intensive marquetry inlay is. The French craft, dating back to the 16th century, involves placing paper-thin, cut veneers in a decorative pattern and applying to a solid base. You can see for yourself on 17 September during a live demonstration of marquetry techniques by the master craftsmen at LINLEY Belgravia on Pimlico Road.

When: 17 September 2018 Time: 6.30pm-8pm Price: Free Entry Location: 60 Pimlico Road, Belgravia SW1W 8LP

4. Printed Leather Launch, Tom Dixon Studio

One of things we love most about LDF is the creativity it inspires, and the unique launches we see, especially when it comes to natural materials. Bill Amberg’s collaboration with top British designers Timorous Beasties (below), Tom Dixon and Faye Toogood alongside US-based Alexandra Champalimaud and Natasha Baradaran, is one such launch. The finest bull leather hides are printed with graphics and the quality of finish, thanks to ever-more advanced digital printing technology, is astounding. See them at Tom Dixon Studio in Coal Drops Yard, near King's Cross. 

When: 15-23 September 2018 Time: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-4pm Price: Free Entry Location: Tom Dixon Studio, The Coal Office, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH

5. Matter of Stuff, Sketch

Design research gallery Matter of Stuff returns to Sketch with shatteringly inventive exhibit, Blown Away. Six international designers are showcasing a series of hand-blown resplendent glass works, including a new chandelier by master glassblower Simone Crestani in borosilicate glass. Wonderglass will present the Echoes chandelier – a never seen before illuminated speaker sculpture by Studiopluz, inspired by the paper lanterns. Sketch Bars Director Pepijn Van-den Abeele has created a special ‘Blowing Bubbles’ cocktail in the exhibition's honour – cheers!

When: until 15 November 2018 Price: Free Entry Location: Sketch 9 Conduit Street W1S 2XG

6. The Skandium Eco Townhouse 

For London Design Week, furniture brand Montana and design company Skagerak will transform Skandium’s townhouse in South Kensington into a colourful eco-home filled with elegant, ethical Scandinavian wares. “Companies are no longer measured in terms of profit or being the world’s best,” explains Joakim Lassen, CEO of Montana. “They are increasingly being measured by being best for the world. This is our philosophy, too.”  Two floors of the townhouse have been designed by architect Helena Laursen in a bold, warm palette and curated with complimenting design objects. 

The eco-friendly project supports Brompton Design District 2018 theme, Material Consequences. “We need to rethink how we use and abuse materials,” explains programme curator Jane Withers. “We wanted to make a space to explore how designers are looking at and experimenting with materials and thinking about their long-term impact.” Plastic is, unsurprisingly, high on the agenda. “Our addiction to single-use disposable plastics has to stop; it’s killing the planet.” Lina Kanafani has curated TRANS-FORM for interior design store Mint, an impressive collection of designers highlighting the transformative power of materials. Studio M-L-XL focuses on research and experiments with languages, techniques and materials; its furniture was inspired by extruded metal L-profiles. Craft designer Wendy Andreu has devised a technique for producing waterproof fabric volumes without sewing or cutting patterns; her double-sided Regen fabric features water-repellent latex on one side and cotton rope on the other.

When: 15-23 September 2018 Time: Mon-Sat 10am-6.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm Price: Free Entry Location: The Skandium Townhouse, 31 Thurloe Place London SW7 2HQ

7. Decorex, Syon Park

Decorex once again is taking over Syon Park near Richmond for a resplendent showcase of luxury interiors and design. The space will host 400 exhibitors and is a mecca for emerging talent across design and interiors. Speakers include Sebastian Cox, Matteo Bianchi and Beata Heuman, who has also designed the VIP lounge. Quench your thirst at the Decorex bar, designed by Lambart & Browne of Loulou’s, 5 Hertford Street.

When: 16-19 September 2018 Time: Sun-Mon 10am-6pm; Tues 10am-5pm Weds 10am-5pm Price: Free Entry Location: Syon Park Brentford Middlesex TW8 8JF Website: decorex.com

London Design Festival 2018, 15-23 September, londondesignfestival.com