“London and design go hand in hand,” says Ben Evans, director of the London Design Festival, the most important event for English creativity, from 18 to 26 September 2021. Under the gray London sky the most outstanding architecture firms shine through, from Zaha Hadid Architects to Foster+Partners, by way of Sir David Adjaye and Thomas Heatherwick, alongside highly acclaimed international designers like Michael Anastassiades, Bethan Laura Wood, Jasper Morrison, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Doshi Levien, Camille Walala, Benjamin Hubert, not to mention the more experimental Max Lamb and the Italian Martino Gamper, much in demand among the galleries.
A very fertile ground which thanks to its schools attracts promising young talents: “London is the city where gifted young designers from all around the world come to succeed,” says Deyan Sudjic, former director of the London Design Museum. “When Zaha Hadid left Baghdad to learn how to be an architect, she chose the Architectural Association School in London. Roksanda Ilincic knew she could not become a world class fashion designer in her native Belgrade, so she chose to study at Central Saint Martins, the school that has also produced Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane.”
From the soaring skyscrapers by starchitects like the Shard by Renzo Piano, to the most Instagrammable restaurants like Sketch, with velvety pink interiors by India Mahdavi, London is an absolute must for design addicts.
The tour cannot help but begin in Kensington, the elegant historical district that contains the most important museums, like the Victoria&Albert, the first design museum in the world created in the 19th century; the London Design Museum founded by Sir Terence Conran in 1989, which recently opened a very colorful temporary supermarket by Camilla Walala; all the way to the Serpentine Galleries at Kensington Gardens, curated by the art and design guru Hans Ulrich Obrist, where on 11 June there will be the opening of the 20th Serpentine Pavilion by the studio Counterspace.
If you’re hunting for trends, don’t miss the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour, a showcase for the best brands with a fine program of events, such as Artefact, the fair of contemporary crafts held from 22 to 29 June. Much awaited novelties for the English summer include the Somerset House’s hosting, from 1 to 27 June, of the London Design Biennale, with a courtyard inhabited by 400 trees from 23 countries, a veritable forest of biodiversity.
There are many new showrooms, including the first single-brand store of Giorgetti in the UK, at Fulham, the expansion of the Boffi|DePadova store in Chelsea, and the Florim point of sale in Clerkenwell, one of the liveliest districts for design and architecture. Famous design zones include Brompton Design District, with the highest number of showrooms, such as B&B Italia, Molteni&C, Cassina, Kartell, Meridiani, where the design temple is the Conran Shop founded in the 1950s by Sir Terence Conran. Newer and expanding districts include King’s Cross, with many ateliers and shores of an indie character, with the studio of the volcanic Tom Dixon, and the very new area of Greenwich Peninsula, which promises to become a center of creativity, and hosts Design London at Magazine from 22 to 25 September 2021.
For lovers of collectible design the best destination is Mayfair, with art and design galleries like Galerie Kreo, Galerie Patrick Seguin and Carpenters Workshop Gallery. But design is truly everywhere in the city, from the famous underground with lettering created in the early 1900s by Edward Johnston, to shops like the Old Bond Street flagship of Stella McCartney, in a historic building enhanced by the pink version of the Camaleonda sofa by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia, or the Louis Vuitton store on New Bond Street, reinvented by the brilliant Peter Marino, with 43 artworks by 25 different artists, and design icons, from the alcoves descending from the ceiling by the Campana Brothers to masterpieces by Gaetano Pesce, Angelo Mangiarotti and Charlotte Perriand.
For quality shopping, the obvious stop is Harrods, in the department of design and interiors, with personalized services and bespoke consulting, and a fine selection of the best in furnishings, featuring brands like Fornasetti, Poltrona Frau and Fendi Casa, just to name a few.
We can finish our tour with a 5-star stay in one of the latest residential developments around Hyde Park, the Mayfair Park Residences, with interiors by the Parisian duo Jouin Manku: services include a personal shopper, chauffeur, sommelier and pet care.