Previous years have seen the festival attract nearly 600,000 visitors from 75 different countries, and while it’s likely the 2020 iteration will see far fewer numbers descend in physical form, much of the offering can be enjoyed online.
As well as showcasing large-scale outdoor installations, the festival is a melting pot of design inspo for the home: from Tom Dixon’s latest light designs (on show this year at The Coal Office in Coal Drops Yard) to adorable architectural solutions for dogs at Japan House. And for those who want to take the look home, you can at Wolf & Badger, where the wares of independent designers are being showcased; Anthropologie, where the store is collaborating with African homeware brand Hadeda; and Jo Malone, where a new home collection is being revealed to coincide with the festival.
The Japan House is showcasing architecture for dogs
The programme offers plenty of workshops you can get involved with, too, from knife-making at Blenheim Forge to Yves Delorme’s intriguing-sounding Bedroom Energy Workshop (coupled with a chance to shop the brand’s autumn-winter collection of luxury linen). Those who want to listen and learn should head to the Shawn Hausman Design-created Standard Hotel in King’s Cross, where a series of talks are being held. And for something a little more abstract, head to NOW Gallery in Greenwich where a site-specific installation, Close from Afar, explores our relationship to one another and the materials that bind us.
For many, LDF is all about the big show-stopper installations. Here’s what to look out for this year…
A mural on the William Morris Design Line. Credit: Mark Rigney
Design Districts and Routes
A smaller affair in light of the pandemic, this year, there are four official design districts to explore (down from last year’s 10): Mayfair, Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Brompton, each offering a cluster of events in short walking distance from one another. In addition, visitors can wander along two design routes: the Peckham Design Trail and the William Morris Design Line in Walthamstow, both examples of the city's up-and-coming design scenes.
Landmark Projects and Festival Commissions
Studio Weave's The Hothouse
Each year, LDF commissions leading designers, artists and architects to create major installations which take residence across the city's public spaces. Falling into this category are the Landmark Projects: major installations erected in the city’s most prominent spaces. Last year, British designer Paul Cocksedge transformed Finsbury Avenue Square with his playful, wavy installation: Please Be Seated. Before that, 2018’s edition saw Es Devlin’s Please Feed the Lions prowl Trafalgar Square, inviting passersby to ‘feed’ a giant red lion poetry which was then projected onto Nelson’s Column in the evening.
This year, the commission is in the hands of London-based architecture practice Studio Weave, who have created a large-scale installation, The Hothouse, to demonstrate the increasingly problematic effects of global warming. Adopting the image of a Victorian glasshouse, the piece is a living and breathing work of art, with guavas, avocados, pomegranates, sugarcane and more all flourishing inside its structure. Garden designer Tom Massey has been brought in to help grow the ‘edible jungle’, which is on show at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
Marlene Huissoud's Unity
French designer Marlene Huissoud is in charge of this year’s Festival Commission, for which she’s created Unity: an installation in the heart of Coal Drops Yard which requires passersby to work as a team, standing in a circle (two metres apart from one another) while treading on a series of foot pumps to inflate the work. Through exemplifying what can be achieved through teamwork, Huissoud hopes to project a message of optimism.
Traditionally, the festival incorporates a series of Special Commissions which can be found inside architecturally distinguished cultural institutions, such as the V&A. This year, a single special project, Connected, is taking place in the online sphere, bringing together nine international designers through one central challenge: to create a table and seating arrangement to suit their new ways of working from home. The finished works will be able to view online as part of the festival before being exhibited later this autumn at the Design Museum.
LDF's Special Commission for 2020: Connected
There are also two Design Destinations to explore. These encompass the commercial pillars of the festival and offer a space for designers, manufacturers, buyers and other creatives to meet. In the virtual sphere, Adorno’s 14 country pillars present new work by over 100 designers and studios, all of which have been created around the theme of ‘The New Reality’, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, over at Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre, Focus/20 presents 120 international showrooms for trade professionals to visit in person and curious minds around the globe to browse online.
For the full London Design Festival programme, click here
|What||London Design Festival 2020: highlights to catch|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
12 Sep 20 – 20 Sep 20, Times vary
|Price||£prices vary across locations|
|Website||Click here for more information|