Must-see at London Design Festival 2019
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Must-see at London Design Festival 2019

STIR @ LDF19
With numerous exciting events happening across the city, STIR eases your woes by listing some highlights that just cannot be missed during the London Design Festival.

by Mrinalini Ghadiok Sep 20, 2019

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

  • Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick in support of Time to Change - designjunction 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick in support of Time to Change - designjunction 2019 Image Credit: Daniel Shearing
  • Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick in support of Time to Change - designjunction 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick in support of Time to Change - designjunction 2019 Image Credit: Courtesy of Steuart Padwick
  • Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Talk to Me, by Steuart Padwick Image Credit: Paul Grover

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

  • Bioknit Pavilion by MuDD Architects and Jane Scott | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Bioknit Pavilion by MuDD Architects and Jane Scott Image Credit: Courtesy of MuDD Architects
  • Jane – Colonise: Close-up of the textile developed to make the Bioknit Pavilion| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Jane – Colonise: Close-up of the textile developed to make the Bioknit Pavilion Image Credit: Cristina Schek

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

SPRING lighting by Tom Dixon at Coal Office, adapted for the London Design Festival 2019 - TouchySmellyFeelyNoisyTasty Video Credit: Courtesy of tomdixonstudio
TASTY: Tom Dixon has created the Art of the Wild space on the Coal Office terrace, for LDF19 - TouchySmellyFeelyNoisyTasty Image Credit: Courtesy of tomdixonstudio

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

BAO BAO VOICE by BAO BAO ISSEY MIYAKE is an interactive and immersive event displaying the brand's iconic bags for LDF19 Video Credit: Courtesy of l_d_f_official
BAO BAO VOICE by BAO BAO ISSEY MIYAKE is an interactive and immersive event displaying the brand's iconic bags for LDF19 Video Credit: Courtesy of l_d_f_official

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

  • Installation view, Rick Owens, Glade, 2019 | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Installation view, Rick Owens, Glade, 2019 Image Credit: Luke Mayes, Courtesy Owenscorp and Carpenters Workshop Gallery
  • OWENS - Single Prong Bench Aluminium| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    OWENS - Single Prong Bench Aluminium Image Credit: Courtesy Owenscorp and Carpenters Workshop Gallery

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

  • 01 min watch Sea Things by Sam Jacob, at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Sea Things by Sam Jacob, at the London Design Festival 2019 Video Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Sea Things by Sam Jacob, at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Sea Things by Sam Jacob, at the London Design Festival 2019 Image Credit: Samta Nadeem

2. ‘Affinity in Autonomy’ by Sony Design @V&A

  • 01 min watch Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design at the London Design Festival 2019 Video Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Affinity in Autonomy by Sony Design at the London Design Festival 2019 Image Credit: Samta Nadeem

3. ‘This Much I’m Worth’ by Rachel Ara @V&A

  • 01 min watch This Much I’m Worth by Rachel Ara at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    This Much I’m Worth by Rachel Ara at the London Design Festival 2019 Video Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • This Much I’m Worth by Rachel Ara at the London Design Festival 2019| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    This Much I’m Worth by Rachel Ara at the London Design Festival 2019 Image Credit: Samta Nadeem

4. ‘Considerate Design’ by various designers @Mint Store

  • Rare furniture collection by Francisco Olivares Diaz (FOD) evolves around the idea of construction and deconstruction | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Rare furniture collection by Francisco Olivares Diaz (FOD) evolves around the idea of construction and deconstruction Image Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Viral Nature by Marina Taranto proposes outdoor furniture made from composite materials | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Viral Nature by Marina Taranto proposes outdoor furniture made from composite materials Image Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Rapolano Stool by Alcarol (Andrea Forti and Eleonora Dal Farra)| London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Rapolano Stool by Alcarol (Andrea Forti and Eleonora Dal Farra) Image Credit: Samta Nadeem

5. William Blake @Tate Britain

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing c. 1786, by William Blake at Tate Britain Image Credit: Courtesy of tate

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

  • 01 min watch Colourscape Music Festival at Clapham Common | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Colourscape Music Festival at Clapham Common Video Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Colourscape Music Festival at Clapham Common | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Colourscape Music Festival at Clapham Common Image Credit: Samta Nadeem
  • Colourscape Music Festival from the outside at Clapham Common | London Design Festival 2019 | STIR
    Colourscape Music Festival from the outside at Clapham Common Image Credit: Samta Nadeem

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About Author

Mrinalini Ghadiok

Mrinalini Ghadiok

Ghadiok is an architect by training, visualizer by heart and writer by passion. Having worked in the fields of architecture, lighting design, historical research and writing for more than a decade, she is driven by her passion for exceptional design and the narrative that choreographs its experience. As the editor of mondo*arc india journal and now STIRworld, she continues her foray in design journalism and publishing.

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