London Design Festival 2019: 10 must-see events

Installations, exhibitions, shows, protagonists not to be missed during the lively international week of design in London

Please Be Seated by Paul Cocksedge

It’s almost impossible to catch it all. London Design Festival is the week that attracts an international audience to the capital, now for the 17th consecutive year. From 14 to 22 September, the festival transforms the city into a big stage for creativity and design, with enjoyable installations in the squares, talks with the most important designers and entrepreneurs, workshops and experiments in the ateliers of successful brands or young promises, presentations of new products and trends in the tradeshows like 100%design, designjunction, Focus/19 and London Design Fair. Hundreds of events, gallons of prosecco, thousands of snaps to put on Instagram, with the hashtag #LDF19. For us it is a daunting task to come up with a top 10; our list could be improved, no doubt, but it does offer a mini-guide and a way to get your bearings, so as not to miss out on the best events.

Affinity in autonomy di Sony Design
Affinity in autonomy di Sony Design

Exhibitions and the Global Design Forum, Victoria&Albert Museum
This year Victoria&Albert Museum celebrates 11 years of partnership with LDF. There are lots of installations to visit, from Bamboo (竹) Ring: weaving into lightness by Kengo Kuma, an ultra-light mega-structure in bamboo and carbon fiber in the museum garden, to Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design, a robotic pendulum that interacts with the emotions of the audience, to imagine a world where intelligence, technology and creative design are more integrated; to Legacy, the project urged by Sir John Sorrell, chairman of London Design Festival, with the participation of 10 designers paired with 10 personalities from the world of design, like Jasper Morrison with Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, for the creation of a sustainable work in American red oak. Also at V&A, check out the Global Design Forum, from the 14th to the 22nd, a series of encounters involving creative talents and innovators like Yves Behar and Vivienne Westwood. Each day the forum approaches a different theme, from graphic design to bio-design (tickets at globaldesignforum.com)

Disco Carbonara
Disco Carbonara by Martino Gamper

Disco Carbonara, Coal Drops Yard 
Martino Gamper invites everyone get down on the dance floor in the new shopping district of Coal Drops Yard, with Disco Carbonara, an installation that evokes the entrances to discos with a facade made with wood production scrap from the company ALPI.

Walala Project by Camille Walala
Walala Project by Camille Walala

Walala Lounge, South Molton Street
Camilla Walala transforms South Molton Street into an original salon en plein air, obviously featuring her graphic design and daring color palette. The result is Walala Lounge, a set of ten sculptural off-scale benches accompanied by planters. An urban living room for a break, which promises to be one of the most instagrammed locations of LDF 19.

Slinkie by Patricia Urquiola, ©Beppe Brancato
Slinkie by Patricia Urquiola, ©Beppe Brancato

I-Made, Saatchi Gallery
An exhibition that brings together the best of design Made in Italy at a single location, the Saatchi Gallery: I-Made, from the 19th to the 22nd, is a project curated by Giulio Cappellini that involves the finest Italian furniture brands, from Molteni&C to Moroso, Giorgetti to Poltrona Frau. There is also space for lighting, with firms like Luceplan and Martinelli Luce, and interior decoration, with CC-Tapis and Florim. Don’t miss the talks with leading design personalities like Patricia Urquiola, Patrizia Moroso and many others. (Tickets at www.i-made.co.uk)

Void di Dan Tobin Smith e lo studio The Experience Machine
Void di Dan Tobin Smith e lo studio The Experience Machine

Void, Islington
Designer Dan Tobin Smith and the creative studio The Experience Machine, in partnership with Gemfields, present Void, a multisensorial spatial installation at the Collins Music Hall, in the vibrant Islington district. Visitors will become part of an immersive experience, traveling through a series of large projections that show the expanded space inside precious stones and map the blurry boundaries between nature and design. An example? A selection of rubies from Mozambique and emeralds from Zambia, dating back to millions of years ago, come alive thanks to the photography of enlarged microcosms, snapshots that become abstract galaxy-like structures.

Please Be Seated by Paul Cocksedge
Please Be Seated by Paul Cocksedge

Please be seated, Finsbury Avenue Square
British designer Paul Cocksedge transforms Finsbury Avenue Square into a sociable place with a sinuous mega-structure for sitting, lying down or strolling. The installation is sustainable and made with construction scaffolding boards. The designer says: “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.”

Ruth Ward at Designjunction
Ruth Ward at Designjunction

Design Destinations
Must-see tradeshows to learn about new trends in interior decoration, new talents and emerging brands, alongside more famous names. At Olympia London 100%design, from 18 to 21 September, celebrates its 25th with over 400 exhibitors and a program of talk including names like Marcel Wanders and David Rockwell. Designjunction, at lively King’s Cross from the 19th to the 22nd, is for people looking for new developments in interior decoration; Focus/19at the Design Centre of Chelsea Harbour, from the 15th to the 20th, presents over 600 brands and many events, featuring designers like Vincent Van Duysen. Finally, the London Design Fair occupies the Old Truman Brewery from the 19th to the 22nd, with a selection of collectable design, new bath furnishings, lighting and much more.

The Coal Office, Tom Dixon

Design districts
The design districts are back as neighboring points of concentration of events, allowing visitors to see a lot without traveling great distances. King’s Cross makes its debut in their ranks, in a lively new district that hosts creative hubs such as that of Tom Dixon, the Coal Office, presenting the multisensory event TouchySmellyFeelyNoisyTasty. At londondesignfestival.comyou can see the complete map of the districts, with names and addresses.

Iri Descent by Liz West
Iri Descent by Liz West

Iri-Descent, Fortnum&Mason store
Fortnum&Mason, the department store in London founded in 1707 by William Fortnum, becomes the setting for Iri-Descentby Liz West, an installation formed by 150 cubes that seem to change color thanks to dichroic films. The films also reflect the borders and transmit complementary colors outward. Iri-Descentis part of a series in progress of works of spatial lighting based on color theory and color fields.

Virgin Abloh
Virgin Abloh

“efflorescence”, Galerie Kreo
At LDF19 Virgil Abloh, the creative talent of the moment, artistic director of Louis Vuitton for men, fashion designer, DJ, artist and designer, presents 20 pieces: round tables and coffee tables, consoles, seating, vases and mirrors, inserted like flowers in a new, unusual urban landscape. Furnishings inspired by our time, with an eye on future uses.