A myriad of events, thousands of exhibiting companies presenting new products, installations and pop-up stores dotted around the city, along with interactive and immersive paths, open museums, performances, talks, workshops and debates On occasion of London Design Week, the Capital gets the public to dance to the rhythm of creativity. Impossible to see everything. We bring you our very own best-of selection, with 10 unmissable attractions
1. MultiPly is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining installations, located in the main entrance of the Victoria&Albert museum until October 1st. An American tulipier mega-pavilion, nine metres high and multi-storey, open to visitors, just like a labyrinth, by the American Hardwood Expert Council, with Waugh Thistleton Architects and ARUP. A series of interconnected spaces which overlap and entwine, with staircases, corridors and open spaces. The three-dimensional structure was conceived as a flexible system which is easy to assemble, disassemble and reassemble, thanks to kits for each part. Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects, explains: “The main ambition of this project is to publicly discuss how to tackle environmental challenges by using innovative and affordable construction. We have reached a crisis point, both in terms of housing as well as CO2 emissions, and we believe that construction using a versatile and sustainable material, like American tulipier, is an important way of tackling these issues”.
2. Alphabet, the installation at Broadgate, Finsbury Avenue Square, conceived by the firm Kellenberger-White. A square populated by 26 colourful letters which transform into playful seating and invite passers-by to play, sit, create sentences and live urban space during their break. The designers explain: “It’s an experiment of shapes and colours, connecting numerous aspects. It is a playground, but also an alphabet; it is urban furniture, but it is also capable of talking”. Each seat is in a different colour, inspired by the research of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Marianna Brandt and Wilhelm Wagenfeld, as well as drawings by Bruno Munari.
3. The most spectacular installation: Please feed the lions, the fluorescent orange lion which interacts with fascinated passers-by in Trafalgar Square, a sculpture endowed with artificial intelligence brings to life the famous square, the latest addition to its four historic lions. The lion is far from silent, it “roars” poetry and sentences selected by members of the public. Everyone is invited to feed the lion, but please note: it only eats words” A project by the artist and designer Es Devlin in collaboration with Google Arts&Culture and The Space.
4. The art of music in the digital age at the Victoria&Albert Museum: experimental works by Beatie Wolfe, the American-English songwriter, musician and innovator, nominated by Wired as one of 22 people who are influencing the world. Luminous display cases contain her visionary projects, like her first ever wearable music album: a woven silk jacket which reveals the geometric scheme of music using audio codified technology: simply place your mobile phone near the fabric to listen to its tracks.
5. Time for tea by Sholten and Baijings: how could there not be a moment dedicated tea in London? The exclusive location, Fortum&Mason, makes this installation one of the most popular and engaging attractions for visitors and passers-by. On the first floor of the historic store in Picadilly Square, you can immerse yourself in a setting made from over 80 pieces of tableware, designed by brands from all over the world. A set featuring green tonalities, typical of Fortum&Mason, with tableware, marble flooring by the Italian brand Luce, Carrara, and furnishings by Moroso, Hay and Karimoku New Standard.
6. 100% Futures, the section curated by Max Fraser for 100%Design: the design guru investigates the most innovative ideas for improving city liveability, based on the theme “Designing for London”. The selection includes transport, technology, well-being and sustainability. Blubel is one of the projects on display, the bike horn with a bluetooth connection that guides you along the safest route option, providing simplified directions and connected to maps on your mobile phone. Light Traffic is a system of intersections which may replace traditional traffic lights, significantly reducing queues and delays, where vehicles fitted with sensors cross while communicating with each other and maintaining a safe distance too. A selection of the best ideas for improving urban environments, suggestions for making them more liveable, greener, friendlier and more hi-tech, for experimentation in London followed by exportation to the rest of the world.
7. Mind Pilot, an incredible interactive installation in the foyer of the London Design Museum, developed by the space laboratory Loop.pH: a blimp which can be piloted by members of the public. One visitor at a time will be connected via an earphone to a series of personal monitoring devices which will read their heart rate and brain activity while they operate robotics. This installation encourages the idea of an inclusive future in which people with different physical capabilities may be able to use the power of thought to operate flight.
8. Brand showrooms: like every year, companies take part in the London Design Festival, with poetic and experimental performances. Morosois hosting the exhibition Mono Mania Mexicoat its Clerkenwell showroom, featuring the latest furnishings and fabrics by the artist-designer Bethan Laura Wood, who has always shown a love of and even an obsession for vibrant South American colours. Lema at its Kings Road flagship store presents its latest upholstered pieces in a special outfit: the fabric collection designed by the English textile editor Osborne&Little: intense textures and new tonalities enhance the refinement of the lounge-chairs Alton by David Lopez Quincoces, Fantino by Gordon Guillaumier, Taiki by Chiara Andreatti together with the sofa Neil by Francesco Rota, in a set which recounts contemporary living styles. Artemide at its historic Great Russell Street London store recounts its new collections with important names, such as Alejandro Aravena’s firm Elemental, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Neri&Hu and Foster+Partners. Foscarini is in London with The Foscarini Rooms, designed by Carlo Ninchi and Vittorio Locatelli, owners of the ONEROOM Gallery in Shoreditch. Here colour reigns supreme, capable of modifying our perception of reality, transforming it into something different and unexpected. On the occasion it will be possible to see Be/colors for the first time, the new capsule collection by Ferruccio Laviani which offers a colour reinterpretation of some of the best-loved lamps, unveiling original identities. Lastly, do not miss Porada at the Design Center, Chelsea Harbour and Molteni&C which will present its latest creations, including Gio Ponti re-editions and the chair Woody by Francesco Meda at the Shaftesbury Avenue flagship store.
9. The film “The Power of the Archive. Renzo Piano Building Workshop” directed by Francesca Molteni in collaboration with Fulvio Irace, Fondazione Renzo Piano and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. An admirable 35 minute tale on the most famous Genoese designer in the world, which will be screened for the first time on the 22nd September at the Royal Academy of Arts, where from the 15th September the exhibition “Renzo Piano The Art of Making Buildings” is on. The film illustrates drafts, sketches, models, renderings, designs and technical details of completed structures exhibited at Fondazione Renzo Piano. The RPBW archive is a metaphor of a maritime port, where goods come and where each departure and arrival brings something new, perhaps something unexpected, which enriches its contents and potential. Following on from the English première, the film will be presented at the Maxxi, Rome, on the 5th October, and at the Milan Design Film Festival, from the 25th to 28th October. The film is promoted by Unifor and the Molteni Museum.
10. The London Design Biennalewith Emotional States at Somerset House: over 40 countries are entertaining the public with poetic projects and experimentations on the main theme “emotional states”. The theme is a reflection on the Gallup Global Emotions Report 2017, based on 149 thousand interviews in 142 states, which measured sentiments and emotions, values normally neglected by traditional economic indicators.