LDF, an endless surprise!

London Design Festival celebrates its fifteenth year. What are the main theme and how many people do you expect?
LDF is too big to adopt a theme but strong ideas do emerge. Materials and sustainability continue to dominate. For example, at Somerset House, Pentatonic is a mobile off-grid recycling plant. Bring your domestic waste, take home a piece of design.
There is an interesting new show called Design Frontiers, at Somerset House too: 30 designers will showcase work that is pushing the frontiers of their discipline through innovation, materials and ideas. We expect over 400,000 visitors and many more passers-by who come across the festival unexpectedly.

The best installation?
Camilla Walala’s Villa Walala at Broadgate by Liverpool Street Station. Influenced by the Memphis Group, who are having a revival, is a huge inflatable multi-coloured playscape. It is playful and unexpected, but above all memorable. We want to tell stories about design through our installations. This is certainly one.

There is a new Design District: Mayfair.
London has often been described as a city of villages and Mayfair is one of the oldest. It is our 9th Design District and each one has a distinctive design identity. Is an international place including italian brands like Achille Salvagni, Mazzoleni and Alessi. Alongside are gallery shows from Carpenters Workshop, Galerie Kreo and Patrick Seguin. Sketch restaurant also add their their own unique view of design to the district.

The festival is an important showcase for young talents.
Over the last ten or so years, LDF has organised a programme of commissions from designers at stages of their careers. This has ranged from world famous names like Marc Newson, Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield to emerging talent like Raw Edges, Max Lamb and Martino Gamper.
Well, they were emerging when we worked with them! It is satisfying to look back, having now commissioned over 50 different designers, to see their progress. Across the wider Festival it must number 100s of names. Finding new talent is a challenge and we keep our eyes and ears open to new ideas and opportunities. Choosing them is instinctive and sometimes the challenge is to turn a raw idea into a completed installation that can be enjoyed by all.

You said: “We have a new audience that is self-taught, aware of technology and design media”.

We are increasingly dependent on social media to reach our audiences. It is a powerful tool. It is how millennials consume information and ideas. Ultimately, we are trying to introduce new ideas about design to the widest possible audiences by any means necessary. It works when visitors go the V&A museum [where we have a programme of projects] for the first time, discover something new that they didn’t know they wanted to see in one of the design districts, and through the Festival connect with someone who makes a difference to their future.