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London Design Festival 2018: The Highlights

Since its inception in 2003, the London Design Festival has earned a reputation as one of the most important events in the global industry’s calendar: Over 400,000 visitors attended the festival in 2017, with 24 percent travelling from abroad to do so. This year, the programme was as enormous as in previous years, with a huge range of diverse events on offer: Between 15 and 23 September, over 450 events were held at various locations across the city.

With so much on offer, where do you start? We spent three days touring the design metropolis, starting at one of the main exhibition locations – the Victoria & Albert Museum – and visiting countless “design districts” before finally bringing our visit to a close at Olympia London. These are our London Design Festival highlights:

The London Design Festival Banner

London Design Festival 2018: Interior, architecture & technology

September 15 marked the official opening of the London Design Festival and the associated exhibitions and installations in the V&A Museum, which remained open to the public until 23 September. We loved the drinking fountain by designer Michael Anastassiades, who wanted to create a design that could be placed in public spaces across the city to reduce consumption of single-use plastic bottles.


This year’s landmark project, located in the rear courtyard of the V&A Museum, was another must-see on our agenda.“MultiPly” by Waugh Thistleton Architects confronts two of the age’s biggest challenges: Sustainable construction and the lack of space in cities. The pavilion, made from recyclable wood panels, is comprised of a labyrinth of connected rooms which overlap and merge into one another. The construction is designed to prompt visitors to rethink existing building structures and to encourage them to think about the raw materials we use to construct our buildings.

"MultiPly" designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects
Modular wood panels
Drinking fountain designed by Michael Anastassiades

Design is everywhere: The city transformed into a design playground

This year, the festival has ten official design districts, each of which has been transformed into a public exhibition space with countless attractions and exhibits for visitors to enjoy – from demonstrations of new products to fascinating and thought-provoking design installations. We particularly enjoyed the TalentLab by, a crowd-funding platform that helps young and unknown designers to bring their ideas to life.

In the design studio, visitors can explore the four stages of the design process, from the initial idea through to the manufacture of the product. In the hip district of Shoreditch we stumbled across the wonderfully stylish interior design store W.A.Green, which stocks a lovingly curated collection of the latest products from German design label Pulpo – including candle holders designed by Sebastian Herkner and patterned rugs.

Source: Mike Keelin / Colour / Vimeo

Design Biennale: States of Emotions

The entirely separate Design Biennale, which takes place at the same time as the London Design Festival, exhibits works from international designers hailing from 40 countries, cities and regions in London’s Somerset House. Working to the theme of “Emotional States”, this year’s artists considered how design impacts on and changes our feelings – resulting in a fascinating exhibition of different approaches to and interpretations of the topic. Our top-three picks were:

1. Australia: The “Full Spectrum” rainbow light installation by artist Flynn Talbot is a symbol of love and the country’s recent decision to allow same-sex marriages.

2. United Arab Emirates: “Time is Subjective” by Tinkah is an artwork comprised of seven rows of rotating hourglasses, which represent the development of the United Arab Emirates. Sand – which dominates the landscape in the countries on which the piece is based – is a particularly appropriate choice of material.

3. Germany: The exhibition “Pure Gold – Upcycling and its Emotional Touch” showcases the work of 30 designers who have creatively upcycled waste to raise awareness of sustainability in society.

The light installation "Full Spectrum" designed by the Australian artist Flynn Talbot
Hourglasses designed for United Arab Emirates
Colorful chairs with different designs

A Mecca for design enthusiasts: 100% Design in London

In addition to the plethora of exhibitions that take place as part of the London Design Festival, the programme also includes a host of professional events, including the international 100% Design show. This annual event is dedicated to contemporary interior design, and creates a platform for conversation and talks for architects, designers, retailers, developers and leading brands from all over the world.

At the first live talk on the opening day, 19 September, Max Fraser – presenter, designer and publisher of the London Design Guide – took to the podium with architects Thomas Heatherwick and Eliot Postma from Heatherwick Studio, John Hitchcox from Yoo and Trevor Morris from SPPARC to discuss the future of and visions for Olympia London. The speakers shared fascinating insights into their collaboration and exciting plans for the future of the building. The site is set to become a “cultural hub” with more public areas and green space for the community.



Source: 100% Design / Facebook

Two relatively new companies stood out for us in the exhibitors’ hall, both of which hail from the world of interior design. Belgian company Kinetura produces lamps that combine light modulation and physical transformation to create an atmospheric mood.

At first glance, it is virtually impossible to see how this effect is achieved; a closer look reveals that the lights are in motion, creating a constantly evolving pattern of light. You can see the effect for yourself in this video:



Source: Oliver van Poucke / YouTube


The second company was Small Rabbit Design, who produces lamps made out of paper. At his stand, designer Stathis Lagoudakis explained that he creates his lamps using strong technical papers sourced from Japan and Germany, which are resistant to tears, fading and water.

The lamps are not only an ideal as a primary light source for a room, but also for creating atmospheric mood lighting that can vary in intensity and colour depending on the look you want to create.

Outdoor lights designed by Small Rabbit Design
Lights with different designs
beautiful white Lamp

Which of our London Design Festival highlights appeals to you the most? Or did you visit the festival yourself? If so, share your highlights with us!

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