What to expect at the 2021 edition of the London Design Festival

This year's edition of London Design Festival boasts a more robust series of installations, exhibitions and displays with an international roster of designers.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Sep 13, 2021

Commencing on September 18, 2021, the 19th edition of London Design Festival will showcase a variety of new works. As London continues to reopen, the festival becomes a catalyst to transform the capital city through a series of design interventions. Unlike many other festivals last year, the London Design Festival’s 2020 edition did take place. This year the festival boasts a more robust series of installations, exhibitions and displays with an international roster of designers, and the projects exploring materiality, sustainable processes and circular design. These three terms have become central themes across design festivals and practices. With a more substantial display component at the V&A, the LDF 2021 also expands its reach through the Design District; there will be 10 featured districts as part of this year’s festival.

Southwark South Design District - Out of Order Spaces | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Southwark South Design District - Out of Order Spaces Image: Amy Bairstow, Courtesy of London Design Festival

Landmark Project

One of the key highlights and a Landmark Project for this edition of the London Design Festival is Medusa, a mixed reality installation by Tin Drum and Sou Fujimoto. Located in the V&A’s Raphael Court, the installation will examine structure, nature and the layered meaning of visualisation. As a mixed reality presentation, the core concept is for the installation to take audiences on a journey of discovery while experiencing greater depth, contours, and physicality. The installation will be accompanied by a score combining natural sounds and original composition.

Medusa by Tin Drum and Sou Fujimoto | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Medusa by Tin Drum and Sou Fujimoto Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

Bring London Together by designer Yinka Ilori is part of the Mayor of London’s ‘Let’s Do London’ domestic tourism campaign. The temporary installation is envisioned as an explosion of colour at 11 pedestrian crossings on Tottenham Court Road and six pedestrian road crossings as well as The Queen Street pedestrian plaza. The project has a degree of public participation and hopes to actively engage with the local community, inviting them to participate in the project. For two days from September 20, volunteers will be invited to paint the Queen Street pedestrian area and help bring the artwork to life. Ilori will also be working in collaboration with students from the University of the Arts London to bring these public interventions to life.

Installation view of Yinka Ilori’s Happy Street | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Installation view of Yinka Ilori’s Happy Street Image: Luke O'Donovan, Courtesy of London Design Festival

Festival Commission

French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani, known internationally for his digital design and fabricated architecture, will present Mellifera: The Dancing Bees, on the rooftop of Fortnum & Mason at Piccadilly. The installation is an attempt to bring the pollinator species back to the urban landscape of London. Conceptualised as swirling 3D printed modules that replicate a beehive, the installation goes through the atrium of the Fortnum & Mason building to an illuminated ceiling made of bioplastics. Mamou-Mani’s installation will also showcase the recent advances in material innovation and technology, as the components of the installation are compostable and in the spirit of the circular economy will be reusable after the event.

Mellifera by Arthur Mamou-Mani | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Mellifera by Arthur Mamou-Mani Image: Arthur Mamou-Mani, Courtesy of London Design Festival

Peter Marigold, Professor of Design and Entrepreneurialism at London Metropolitan University, will present The Unboxing Show. If there is one waste material that the global lockdown created an abundance of it is the cardboard packages. Perhaps the most primary material that we consider to be consumer waste, will be re-interpreted by established designers and makers at King’s Cross Design District. A series of objects made from waste cardboard found at Coal Drops Yard will explore the imaginative potential of the material.

Snippets of The Unboxing Show by Peter Marigold | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Snippets of The Unboxing Show by Peter Marigold Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

Special Project

Located at Observation Point on the South Bank and designed by renowned Danish architecture firm, Henning Larsen, The Cube by VELUX® is a unique installation featuring a mosaic of roof windows. Meant to be a location where visitors can rest and recuperate, the installation will also feature a calm sound experience designed by AKQA and composed by Kasper Bjørke that plays an original song inspired by the ocean, wind, rain and other sounds of the outdoors.

The Cube by VELUX | London Design Festival | STIRworld
The Cube by VELUX® Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

Design House at 14 Cavendish uses the structure’s heritage architecture and palimpsest of redecorations as a backdrop to feature the new works of international designers. Featuring work by Sebastian Cox, 1882 Ltd, Tiipoi, Ruup & Form, Isokon+ and Jasper Morrison, Angus Hyland (Pentagram) And Marion Deuchars, Sebastian Wrong and Jochen Holz, the Design House, remain true to its name while presenting a mix of graphic art, light installations and dining experience for The Handmade’s Table.

The Festival Hub at the V&A

In addition to Tin Drum and Sou Fujimoto installation, the V&A has also curated a series of projects as a lead up to the UK hosting COP26, from October 31-November 12, 2021. Installations, projects, performances and events will explore design thinking in the challenge of climate change with projects focusing on a low-carbon future, the circular economy and climate justice. Some of the projects curated by the V&A include Between Forests and Skies by Nebbia Works; an immersive, low-carbon aluminium pavilion that will appear to float in one of the ponds of the V&A campus. Placeholders by Juliet Haysom and Aude-Line Duliere is an exercise in the circular economy. In response to the impact that the pandemic has had on opportunities for young people, for the first time as part of LDF the V&A will host a youth-focused area of the programme. One such programme is Lund Point, whichwill involve the transformation of currently empty dwellings in a 23-storey tower block on the edge of the Olympic Park into a multi-lens camera obscura, alongside the creation of ultra-large format analogue photographic prints, created by young adults from east London with artist Brendan Barry.

Render of ‘Between Forests and Skies’, by Nebbia Works. Supported by En+ Group | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Render of ‘Between Forests and Skies’, by Nebbia Works. Supported by En+ Group Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

The Design Districts

|This year there are 10 Design Districts as part of the festival. Each district has its unique personality that reflects the local community and enables visitors to explore a multitude of events that reflect the district's creative fabric. This year each of the districts will have their unique sculptural waymarker. To create these Designposts, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and furniture makers Benchmark, Jan Hendzel Studio and Sebastian Cox collaborated with 10 emerging designers. The districts include: Brompton Design District, Clerkenwell Design District, Islington Design District, King’s Cross Design District, Mayfair Design District, Shoreditch Design Triangle, William Morris Design Line (returning after its successful debut last year), and newly launched for 2021, Design District at Greenwich Peninsula, Park Royal Design District and Southwark South Design District.

Representational image of the New York Skyscraper Camera Project, 2019 | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Representational image of the New York Skyscraper Camera Project, 2019 Image: Brendan Barry, Courtesy of London Design Festival

London Design Medal

Winners of the London Design Medals were announced on September 8. The London Design Medal was awarded to Ilse Crawford OBE, while the Design Innovation Medal went to Eyal Weizman MBE, and Mac Collins was awarded the Emerging Design Medal. The Lifetime Achievement Medal was awarded to Michael Wolff for his significant and fundamental contribution to the design industry throughout his career.

Click here to read all about STIR at LDF, a STIR series on what to look out for at London Design Festival 2021.

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