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London Design Festival 2015: a TFOD Report

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on October 05, 2015 at 04:01 PM

The 2015 edition of the London Design Festival has just concluded (September 19- 27). Established in 2003, the Festival has attained a reputation as one of the largest and most innovative design events in the world. 

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The Festival was created with the intent of celebrating and promoting London as the design capital of the world, thus creating a platform for inspirational design initiatives. Over 350 events and installations were simultaneously live across the city during this period. The 2015 Edition had an array of stunning works; celebrating art, architecture and design!

Pic:1. 'A Bullet from a Shooting Star' by Alex Chinneck

One of the major highlights was 'A Bullet from a Shooting Star' by conceptual artist Alex Chinneck, who is renowned for elevating everyday structures into the extraordinary by introducing an element of fantasy into familiar situations. This year the Festival commissioned a major project with Chinneck in the Greenwich Peninsula. This particular installation took the form of a regular electricity pylon but given the structural feat it is performing, the design is far from conventional. Referencing the industrial history of the site which once included the largest oil and gas works in Europe and a steelworks, Chinneck created a lattice of steel, that resembles an upside down pylon, leaning at a precarious angle as though shot into the earth. Says the artist: “My work is a combination of surrealism and spectacle,” he says. “In this case, the spectacle is provided by the sheer scale of the sculpture and the physical feat of balancing it on its tip."

Another unique collaboration is between the world’s leading museum of art and design - The Victoria and Albert Museum and London’s foremost contemporary design festival - The London Design Festival. The Museum was the site for an extraordinary range of design installations large and small, intricate and majestic. Dr Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said 'The London Design Festival is a vibrant think tank, which annually presents some of the most interesting contemporary work being created in the world.’

Pic:2. Mexican Pavilion; Pic:3. Curiosity Cloud; Pic:4. Cloakroom; Pic:5. Mise-en-abyme; Pic: 6. Ogham Wall; Pic: 7. exhibition by Robin Day

A major highlight of the Festival this year included The Mexican Pavilion: ‘You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well as by Reflection’ by Frida Escobedo. This special project for the John Madejski Garden was conceptualized to celebrate the Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom. Inspired by Tenochtitlán, the Aztec city that was built on a lake, the pavilion was a flexible space made up of layers of reflective surfaces that could be moved and adapted to hold a wide variety of events and activities. Other highlights at the V&A included Zotem by Kim Thomé in the Grand Entrance, Curiosity Cloud by mischer’traxler in the Norfolk House Music Room, The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood, Mise-en-abyme by Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale, the Ogham Wall by Grafton Architects in the Tapestries Gallery and an exhibition showing works by Robin Day, one of the most significant furniture designers of the 20th century. Although best known for his Polypropylene stacking chair, Day retained a life-long love for wood as a material. The exhibition explores Day’s innovative use of wood in his professional practice together with objects made for the family home and writings that reveal his deep attachment to nature and strong environmental concerns. 

Pic: 8. Festival Shop; Pic: 9. Zotem by Kim Thomé; Pic: 10, 12-16. ‘Ten Designers in the West Wing’; Pic: 11. Somerset House

This year the iconic Somerset House became a major new destination for the Festival. Within the historic setting, were exhibitions showcasing collaborations between designers and brands, a presentation of the winning entries from a competition with Twitter, an exploration of how an ancient tree can continue to have a function even after being felled and a display showing the work of the winners of The British Land Celebration of Design awards. ‘Ten Designers in the West Wing’ presented the work of an impressive list of well-established names, exhibiting in collaboration with their best clients. The participating designers, all of whom were invited by the Festival, created a bespoke environment in which to display their work within the recently renovated rooms.

A unique facet of the Festival is the creation of Design Districts. This year, a brand new Design District was launched at Bankside. Since Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge launched in 2000, Bankside has become home to many galleries, design studios, architectural practices and creative agencies, thus making it a creative hotbed. Each District showcased its creative industry, from workshops to walks, exhibitions and outdoor installations. In 2015 there were seven official Design Districts spread across the capital during the Festival. 

The Festival can be summed up in the words of Sir John Sorrell CBE, Chairman of the London Design Festival: “This year’s Festival programme really reflects the diversity of design across the whole of our capital with a vast array of events, installations and exhibitions showcasing the huge number of different design disciplines practiced in London. Locations this year range from some of London’s most historic buildings, to areas of the capital where regeneration is transforming the landscape in a truly exciting way.”



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