Summer slings and design flings
If you are in London, you are witnessing perhaps the most activated time of the year – September marks the London Design Festival, this time around in its 17th edition.
Some of the most prolific names in design, such as Paul Cocksedge, Tim Walker, Antony Gormley and Kengo Kuma, to name a few, have descended on the capital city to showcase their wares. While there are designated design districts that form the main festival, installations and public art have set shop around corners, in plazas, on crosswalks and within the numerable design institutes, museums, galleries and shops to offer a world of design, unlike any other.
By now you have probably already gotten yourself a map, made an itinerary and charted out your list of things to do and places to visit. And I do hope you have covered the icons such as Tate, Royal Academy of Arts, and V&A etc.; however, I cannot help but share with you some favourites that you just cannot miss.
Check out the works listed below – while some will fall well en-route your drafted road map, for others you might have to venture off the beaten track; but trust us, they will be well worth your time and effort.
1. ‘Talk to Me’ by Steuart Padwick @designjunction
In order to spread awareness about mental health and support the on-going campaign ‘Time to Change’, British designer, Steuart Padwick has created an interactive installation titled ‘Talk to Me’. Two giant figures created using cuboidal forms of wood, and almost resembling the Lego human form, stand 5.5m tall at a busy crossing on Kings Boulevard.
Fitted with sensors, the figures greet passers-by with uplifting audio messages composed by eminent poets, writers, actors and ambassadors such as Uncle Errol, Charlotte Newman and Rachel Joyce.
The installation is meant to offer a friendly voice to strangers, and it most definitely does.
Where: Kings Boulevard Kings Cross
2. ‘Bioknit Pavilion’ by MuDD Architects, Jane Scott @designjunction
Stephanie Chaltiel of MuDD Architects teamed up with Jane Scott, an internationally renowned digital knitting expert based at the University of Leeds, to create the Bioknit Pavilion for designjunction this year. The installation is a demonstration of how new techniques in manufacturing textile architecture can give life to structures, while seamlessly integrating colour, material and form, such as at this pavilion.
The designers referred to bio mimicry to derive the organic form and functionality of the pavilion – studying plant biology and growth patterns in nature. Using sustainable recycled nylon and smart phosphorous yarns, the textile of the pavilion was knitted digitally in one piece at the University of Leeds. The critical factor in its making was combing a complex 3D form with a tactile, responsive and textile experience. And with a successful start, it is now slated to be used as a light formwork for permanent upcoming affordable housing construction in 2020.
Where: Cubitt Park, Kings Cross, N1C 4UZ
3. ‘Touchy Smelly Feely Noisy Tasty’ by Tom Dixon @The Coal Office
British design icon, Tom Dixon, was awarded the London Design Medal this year. Known for his engineering brilliance and award-winning products, he has surpassed himself at this edition of LDF, turning his entire office complex at the Coal Drop Yard into a working laboratory that challenges multiple senses and offers an experience unmatched to another. His installation covers his studio, store, factory, trade counter, bar and restaurant, filling the space with flavours, fragrances, sounds, colours and textures of the future. Visitors can witness live chair-weaving demonstrated by Rush Matters, participate in liquor tasting with the Danish distillery, Empirical Spirits, and also watch (and smell) as Dixon converses with smell researcher, Sissel Tolaas about how scent influences our experience of design.
Where: The Coal Office, 1 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ
4. ‘Bao Bao Voice’ by Issey Miyake @ Protein Studios
Driven by geometries and patterns, creating the most simple but extraordinary forms, Issey Miyake has to be one of the most celebrated contemporary fashion designers. It is no surprise then that one of his best selling products gets adapted into a large interactive and multi-sensory installation at the LDF. The Bao Bao bag, with its iconic triangular assemblage has been transformed into ‘Bao Bao Voice’ – wherein the bags are placed strategically and moved using sophisticated technology to produce synchronised sounds, almost like a musical instrument. Visitors engage with the sound installation, which generates a series of visuals that are projected onto an ever-changing screen.
The colour gradients and playful nature of the work clearly emulate the brand’s personality– an unusual feat to see more than a hundred pieces of your favourite bag in a kaleidoscopic rainbow forming art.
Where: Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, EC2A 3EY
5. ‘Glade’ by Rick Owens @ Carpenters Workshop Gallery
The Carpenters Workshop Gallery has opened an exclusive exhibition to launch a new limited-edition collection of furniture by the eminent designer, Rick Owens. ‘Glade’ as it is titled, includes ten individual units and two corner units arranged as a large-scale couch. Although presented as a composite assemblage, the individual pieces can stand on their own as well.
‘Glade’ is accompanied by other designs as well, also by Owens – ‘Prong’ stools, a renewed edition of the Curial Chair and eight Aztec crowns.
The new collection not only challenges the designers approach to design, but also signifies his work for the upcoming Paris Fashion Week.
Where: Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 4 Albemarle Street, W1S 4GA
While the LDF can easily be claimed as (one of the) mecca’s of design and our list (of favourites) is rather endless, we do hope you can see all of these. And if you still have time to spare, don’t forget:
1. ‘Sea Things’ by Sam Jacobs @V&A
2. ‘Affinity in Autonomy’ by Sony Design @V&A
3. ‘This Much I’m Worth’ by Rachel Ara @V&A
4. ‘Considerate Design’ by various designers @Mint Store
5. William Blake @Tate Britain
And while you are at it, do drop by Clapham Common for the Colourscape Music Festival. Wrap yourself in a coloured cape and lose yourself in the mammoth labyrinth of kaleidoscopic tunnels as you groove to the tunes and immerse yourself in saturated hues.
Where: Clapham Common, Windmill Drive, SW4 9DE
- affinity in autonomy
- bao bao voice
- bioknit pavilion
- carpenters workshop gallery
- clapham common
- colourscape music festival
- considerate design
- issey miyake
- jane scott
- london design festival
- mint store
- mudd architects
- protein studios
- rachel ara
- rick owens
- sam jacobs
- see things
- sony design
- steuart padwick
- talk to me
- tate britain
- the coal office
- this much im worth
- tom dixon
- touchy smelly feely noisy tasty
- william blake