Famous to some as the harbinger of pumpkin spice, autumn means much, much more to us design-hungry Londoners. It brings excitement, colour and always headline news to the city whose cup already runneth over with art and culture. As if in sync with the yellowing of leaves, creative talents, established and fresh-faced, emerge from their summer chrysalises – in full bloom and ready to transform the landscape of our surroundings.
Celebrating its fifteenth instalment this year, London Design Festival is of course always the first drop in London’s design ripple, rallying an inspiring programme of events and installations. Under this umbrella, as every year, there is so much to look forward to.
Unlike many international design festivals, London Design Festival is a democratic festival – for Londoners and visitors, along with the design industry – with the immense production quite literally changing the landscape of the capital over the ten-day period. In Kings Cross for the second year, Design Junction (or DJ-KX) is where 70 design-led pop-up shops will offer a curated mix of homewares, textiles, tech accessories, jewellery and prints. With PAD and Frieze, two of the UK’s biggest art and design fairs, coming into play at the beginning of October, there’s plenty to inspire us. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by design, and impossible not to be in the thick of it, which is precisely why we love this time of year in London. Here’s what we’re looking forward to from some of the UK’s most established artists:
Reflection Room: Flynn Talbot
Reflection Room is an immersive coloured light experience that will be the first London Design Festival installation to be housed in the V&A’s Prince Consort Gallery. The vaulted space is to be lit at each end to highlight and define the dramatic 35-metre-long gallery and magnificent ceiling structure. It will be illuminated with Talbot’s signature of complementary blue and orange lighting, using large black reflective Barrisol to expand the width of the space, offering a fragmented view of shifting colours, faceted reflections and light. The resulting play of verticals will transform the space into a vivid chapel of coloured light made with a futuristic textile, paying homage to the history of the room itself, which previously housed over 30,000 textile samples.
Flynn Talbot explains, “I conceived the idea standing in the gallery, and wanted to add my story on top of the beautiful existing architecture but not to take it over. With all of my work, I want to create new experiences using light that builds a connection between people and place.”
Villa Walala: Camille Walala
To celebrate 15 years, the Festival, along with headline partner, British Land, will launch a series of commissions and installations, including a landmark project at Broadgate Circus with renowned textile designer Camille Walala. Villa Walala is an exuberantly colourful and unexpected architectural landscape in the heart of Broadgate. Constructed from vinyl, sealed PVC inners and high-strength nylon, it is a soft-textured ‘building-block castle’, covered and coloured with digitally printed patterns. The component shapes are pinned to the ground and inflated by fans, transforming them from flat forms into a vast and immersive temporary island of shape and colour that begs to be explored, invites playfulness, relieves stress, and visually dominates an otherwise grey space.
Accompanied by squeezy stress balls and other surprises, the Villa is intended to inject a little joy into what may otherwise have been just another day at the office. Walala’s ‘play-scape’ aims to get the area’s office workers to get moving on their lunch breaks – rather than solemnly sitting on the concrete steps – unleashing a refreshing new perspective of pattern and playfulness as they explore this strange and squidgy new world.
Transmission: Ross Lovegrove
Inspired by the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries on display at the V&A, Ross Lovegrove has created Transmission, a spectacular 21-metre-long fluid, three dimensional tapestry, using Alcantara, a tactile and sound absorbent material and an alternate to animal based textiles.
The soft undulating folds in the installation highlight and merge both colours and forms of the medieval tapestries. The installation responds to the rich scenes of wealth and aristocratic fashion depicted in the 15th century tapestries at the V&A, and complements them with its own gold and silver threads, which should glint in the gallery lighting. These threads create an ornamental pattern of over 2 million flecks running along the edge of the sculpture, standing out brightly against the rest of the installation, and using colours faithfully recreated from the original tapestries.
Transmission builds on the organic, high-tech forms for which Lovegrove is well-known. He has used these fluid, biological shapes in his designs for cars, aircraft interiors, cameras, watches and street furniture. This is his second collaboration with Alcantara, following an installation at IMM Cologne earlier this year.
London Design Festival: londondesignfestival.com
Flynn Talbot: flynntalbot.com
Camille Walala: camillewalala.com
Ross Lovegrove: rosslovegrove.com