London Design Festival is just around the corner and as ever, there’s so much to see that it can feel like your brain’s imploding in a sea of red, white and chairs. So we’ve done some of the legwork and picked out 15 things we can’t wait to see and do across the capital for LDF 2015.
1. Robin Day, Works in Wood, V&A, 19 – 27 September
This exhibition marks the centenary of the furniture designer’s birth, and was designed by Assemble (more on that here) to show his love of using wood. While better known for his iconic Polypropylene stacking chair, Robin never strayed too far from his upbringing in High Wycombe, where beech woods and timber furniture factories were plentiful. We’ll see how Robin used wood in his commercial work alongside personal projects for the family home and “writings that reveal his deep attachment to nature and strong environmental concerns,” according to the V&A.
2. Alex Chinneck, A Bullet from a Shooting Star, Greenwich Peninsula, 19-27 September
We’re longtime admirers of Alex Chinneck’s work here at It’s Nice That, whether we’re watching his wax house melt or having our minds blown by his Covent Garden floating house. For LDF he’s gone EVEN BIGGER, creating a spectacular work that makes it appear that 35 metre-high electricity pylon has shot straight from the ground. A Bullet from a Shooting Star comprises 450 pieces of steel and 900 engineered connection points, all constructed from a combined length of 1186 metres of steel weighing 15 tons. Alex says: “For the London Design Festival I wanted to take on my biggest challenge to date – one that could only be realised through collaborative design and problem solving.”
3. Anna Lomax, Luxury Goods, KK Outlet, 4 – 26 September
Irrepressibly inventive set designer Anna’s love of a “genuine fake” is at the heart of this show, which presents new and older works that explore what “luxury” really is. Influences include London, poundshops and impossible opulence, so we’ll be seeing an Aladdin’s cave of neon, prints, holograms, terrazzo marble and brass.
4. Listening Room with The Wire and Postcard Teas, Vitsoe, 19 – 27 September
If like us you love weird sound art, Dieter Rams and drinking tea, you’re in for a treat if you pop over to the Vitsoe showroom on Bond Street. The store is working with experimental music magazine The Wire on an installation of new sound works, which you can enjoy/be mildly terrified by while gazing at the calming range of Dieter Rams furniture in the space.
5. Ghostsigns & Better Letters, various venues, 19-21 September
Last summer we found ourselves meandering the streets of east London, gazing up at buildings and trying to make out the words on them. No, it hadn’t been another heavy night at Vogue Fabrics: we were on one of Sam Roberts’ fascinating Ghost Walks tours. His fascinating perambulations look at the typography and graphic design of yore through searching for “ghost signs”, the remnants of old advertisements that can still just about be made out on walls. For LDF, Sam is bringing his tours to the Bankside Design District through tours and workshops.
6. 100% Norway, Tent London, 24—27 September
One of our absolute highlights of last year’s LDF was seeing some very enthusiastic dudes bashing a shed on the opening night of Tent London. They turned out to be from 100% Norway, and felt that hitting bits of their showcase with other bits was the perfect way to show them off. It really was – like Stomp for homeware, but actually good. They’re back at Tent this year and with a new focus on manufacturing and showing work from 33 new and more established designers. We can’t wait to see what bonkers stuff they’ll get up to this year.
7. Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale with Johnson Tiles, Mise-en-abyme, V&A, 19-27 September
Our pal Matteo and his design partner Laetitia have worked with British tile manufacturer Johnson Tiles to create an installation on the bridge over the Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V&A. Its cheery title translates as “placed in the abyss,” and will take the form of a huge transparent acrylic arch for visitors to pass through. The designers say: “What we wanted from the start was to create an experiment. Something that was not just a piece of design to look at but also an experience for the visitor. We tried to match the work with the materials, themes and colours at the location and so took the inspiration from the V&A itself.”
8. Clinic, Gig Poster Power, Saffron Hill, 21-25 September
Billed as “a defence of design and music” (not sure they need one after our Art + Music feature, eh, eh?) creative agency Clinic is creating an exhibition looking at gig posters past and present, and celebrating its association with the record industry.
9. Heartbeat: 100,000 balloon installation. Charles Pétillon, Covent Garden until 27 September
In recent times Covent Garden has played host to more than just men on sticks pretending to be levitating Yodas and hoardes of lost, flustered teenagers. Not only has Alex Chinneck’s floating house taken up residence there, but now a new art installation made up of 100,000 balloons is there too. Created by artist Charles Pétillon and entitled Heartbeat, this is the Frenchman’s first public art installation, and uses a white light alongside the balloons to form an interactive, 54 metre long, 12 metre wide sculpture housed in the South Hall of the Grade II listed Market Building in the area.
10. Robyn Parker, The Chronicles of Brixton, Phoenix Café on Coldharbour Lane, 19 – 27 September
It’s one of the hardest questions you can be asked: what one thing would you save from a fire? Brixton-based designer Robyn Parker is bringing a selection of answers from people in her local area to life with The Chronicles of Brixton show. The exhibition presents photographs of peoples’ treasured possessions arranged to make what the festival describes as a “psychedelic piece of art” that celebrates Brixton folks’ stories.
11. Patternity Festival of Pattern, Londonewcastle Project Space, 17 – 22 September
Lovely pattern people Patternity are celebrating the launch of their first ever book with a full-on mini festival within a festival over in east London’s Redchurch Street. Over the course of six days they’ll be running exhibitions, workshops and talks, all free, all fascinating. Dress code: monochrome.
12. Lippincott: Like me: Our bond with brands, Design Museum, 19 – 27 September
Brand-building behemoth Lippincott is running a display at the Design Museum that explores how we interact with brands, and the role consumers play in their creation. According to the agency, the interactive exhibition, explores “Starbucks, The Hunger Games, and everything in between, encouraging visitors to ask: who’s branding who?”
13. Max Lamb, An Engineered Marble for Architectural Surfaces: Marmoreal, Dzek, 19 – 25 September
Over near the V&A Max Lamb is showing off his latest sumptuous creation – a series of Marmoreal pieces in new colours and formats. Might not sound too exciting on the surface (GET IT?!), but it looks utterly beautiful.
14. Sarah Hyndman, Pop-up Type Tasting at the V&A, 19 and 20 September
Font fanatic Sarah Hyndman is taking her Type Tasting workshops to the V&A for two days during LDF, where those who love typography and those who don’t can revel in interactive type-based activities, and find out what their fave face says about their personalities.
15. Faye Toogood, The Cloakroom (Kvadrat collaboration), V&A, 21 – 25 September
Like Jason and the Golden Fleece before her, Faye Toogood is well aware of the transformative power of a coat. She’s taken this knowledge to extremes in this installation for the V&A, which sees coats made of Kvadrat fabric act as sat-navs that direct their wearers around the V&A. Faye has created 150 of the coats, which use maps sewn inside them to show people where ten more specially-commissioned Faye Toogood garments are hiding throughout the V&A.
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.