London Design Festival 2019: Must-see Events & Exhibitions

Luxury London

29 August 2019

From the 14-22 September 2019, London turns into a playground for the world's leading design talent. Scroll on for this year's Design Festival highlights

This year's London Design Festival focuses on designing for a shifting future. From biodesign and digital futures, to the power of AI and our environment, sustainability in design will be a topic covered by many guest speakers 

29 August 2019 | Luxury London

VOID, Islington

Step inside a gemstone this London Design Festival. Designer Dan Tobin Smith and creative studio The Experience Machine, in partnership with Gemfields, have created VOID; a multi-sensory spatial installation at Collins Music Hall in Islington. As part of the immersive experience, visitors will experience large-scale, interactive  projections that mimic what it feels like to be inside a precious stone. Through photography of tiny microcosms, the gemstones will be magnified to embrace the viewer in a galaxy-like ambiance. Using scale, colours and the intricacies of nature, VOID is an experience not to be missed. There is an intimate masterclass on Tuesday 17 September, led by renowned gemologist and jewellery specialist Joanna Hardy.

Date: 14-22 September 2019 Time: 10:30 to 17:00 Price: free entry Location: Collins Music Hall Islington, N1 2XH Closest Station: Angel

Paddington Pyramid, Paddington 

Sticking close to home, Paddington-born designer Adam Nathaniel Furman has created a vertical-stepped tower in the middle of Paddington central. His trademark vibrancy is on full display, in what he calls a "joyful reference point...created in a jubilant help us orientate ourselves in the beautifully layered, historical smorgasbord that is London." We can only hope his landmark will be as colourful as his language. 

Date: 14 - 22 September 2019 Time: all day Price: free entry Location: Paddington Central London, W2 6AE Closest Station: Paddington

Please Be Seated, The City

Broadgate, London's largest pedestrianised district, is being transformed by British designer Paul Cocksedge. The Landmark Project will be the most ambitious of British Land’s commissions to date. “Every single aspect of the installation is tailored to its environment as well as the function it serves,” says Cocksedge. “The curves raise up to create backrests and places to sit, as well as space for people to walk under, or pause and find some shade. It walks the line between a craft object and a design solution. It occupies the square without blocking it.” An experiment in design, sociology, and urban living not to be missed. 

Date: 14 September - 11 October 2019 Time: all day Price: free Location: Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, EC2M 2PP Closest Station: Liverpool Street

Disco Carbonara, King's Cross 

The rejuvenation of King's Cross saw Thomas Heatherwick's Coal Drops Yard open in October 2018, which is both a shopping destination and a modern work of art. With more chutzpah than many of London's districts, King's Cross will for the first time become a Design District following the success of the area’s Design Route last year. Martino Gamper has created a false facade of a disco (remember the days when Coal Drops Yard was Bagley's nightclub?) with a fresh take on traditional cladding from the Italian Alps. Importantly, all of the materials used to create the temporary structure have been made with recycled or repurposed waste product in a nod to sustainability. While you're in the area, make sure to check out Roksanda Ilinčić's 'The Penthouse' at the Gasholders for some major interior-design inspo - we advise to pre-book free tickets. 

Disco Carbonara 
The Penthouse by Roksanda Ilinčić, Gasholders

Date: Disco Carbonara 14 - 22 September 2019, The Penthouse 18 - 22 September 2019 Time: Disco Carbonara Mon-Sat 10am - 8pm and Sunday 11am - 6pm, The Penthouse Wed-Sun 10am - 3pm Location: Gasholders, 1 Lewis Cubitt Square, N1C 4BY Closest Station: Kings Cross

100% Design, West Kensington 

One of the UK’s leading design trade events, this year’s show will present a stellar line-up of more than 400 exhibitors as well as an unrivalled roster of talks featuring some of the biggest names across architecture and design, including David Rockwell and Marcel Wander. The four-day programme will see an increase in issues-based content exploring topics such as climate change, wastage, sustainability and how design can and is making a difference. An absolute must for those in the industry, and those who want to educate themselves on all things to do with design. 

Date: 18 - 21 September 2019 Time: Wed 10am - 5pm, Thurs 10am - 9pm and Fri/Sat 10am - 5pm Price: £15 Location: Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX Closest Station: Kensington Olympia

Walala Lounge, Mayfair

Need a break during London Design Week? Head to South Molton Street, where French-born London-based designer Camille Walala has created 11 sculptural benches, designed with her signature  tribal-pop colourful style. Each one will be accompanied by planters – some freestanding and some integrated into the structure of the furniture – and a series of oversized flags that will be strung, bunting-style, from shopfront to shopfront, converting the area into an immersive corridor of colour. 

Date: 14 - 22 September 2019 Time: all day Price: free Location: South Molton Street, W1K 5QE Closest Station: Bond Street

I-MADE, Chelsea  

From espresso cups and stilettos to swanky cars, the Italians seem to make everything that much sexier. Enter I-MADE, London’s first exhibition solely dedicated to Italian design and manufacture. A true celebration of Italian innovation and craftsmanship, I-MADE draws on the passion and traditions of iconic Italian brands such as Alias, Moroso, Living Divani, Poltronova and Porro, displaying works like pieces of art in Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery. Che bello! 

Date: 19 - 22 September 2019 Time: Thu/Sat 10am - 8pm and Sun 10am - 6pm Price: £12 Location: Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, SW3 4RY Closest Station: Sloane Square

Beazley Designs of the Year at the Design Museum, Kensington

One of the most all-encompassing exhibitions of the festival, head to High Street Kensington's Design Museum for Beazley Design of the Year and more. Discover the most innovative, eye-popping designs across six categories (fashion, architecture, digital, transport, product and graphic design) from the past 12 months, as nominated by the public and design experts from around the world. This is the first year the public have nominated alongside design experts. 

Date: 11 September - 9 February 2020 Time: 10am - 6pm Price: £10.90 Location: Design Museum 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG Closest Station: High Street Kensington

Take the Plunge, South Bank 

This interactive project at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf has been designed by London-based studio Volume Creative to resemble an endless horizon. Visitors are enveloped in vivid colour and light, giving way to an extraordinary secondary space that depicts a sunset under the sea. Take the Plunge hints at the spirit of adventure and celebrates the endless possibilities of great design, using multi-sensory techniques to leave you feeling rather wavy. 

Date: 14 - 22 September 2019 Time: 10am - 8pm Price: free Location: Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH Closest Station: Waterloo East

Multiple Exhibitions, Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the official Festival hub, presenting an eclectic calendar of events. Highlights include the Legacy exhibition, which presents ten objects created using American red oak wood. For the project, Sir John Sorrell, chairman of London Design Festival, invited the leaders of ten cultural institutions, including the Tate, the V&A and English National Ballet, to collaborate with a designer to create something relevant to their industry. Also on display is Kengo Kuma's Bamboo Ring, found in the museum's glorious John Madejski garden, while Sony Design's artificial intelligence boffins have created an interactive robotic pendulum with kinetic lights. The museum will close London Design Festival on 22 September with Exhibition Road Day of Design, which focuses on design solutions to the climate emergency. 

Date: 14 - 22 September 2019 Time: 10am - 10pm Price: free entry Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL Closest Station: South Kensington

Matter of Stuff x Sketch, Mayfair

Design consultancy Matter of Stuff returns to Sketch in Mayfair for London Design Week with a thought-provoking new exhibition. A Second Life recycles 5,000 cylindrical Burbridge pine dowels to create a series of experimental benches, light sculptures and screens, spread out along the atmospheric corridors of Sketch. The installation represents the never-ending, transformative possibilities of sustainability and design and is accompanied by a celebratory cocktail, with a punchy gin base.

Date: 14 September - 7 November 2019 Time: 7am - 2am Price: free entry Location: Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG Closest Station: Oxford Circus Underground