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There’s a bright and bold feel to the work that Tent London will be hosting in the Old Truman Brewery in east London: Curiousa & Curiousa’s colourful blown-glass lighting; the distinctly kaleidoscopic wallpaper ranges of Sian Elin and Helene Jellestad; and Parris Wakefield’s brightly coloured Bliss cushions.
In contrast, Steven McNamara, founder of Roji Designs, will be curating Weathering, a show of stripped-back style from emerging Irish designers – look out for Joe Hogan’s nestlike contemporary basketry and Cillian Ó Súilleabháin’s inlaid wooden cabinets and furniture. tentlondon.co.uk
Harrods is Design
Harrods will be making its LDF debut this year by hosting an in-store design trail on its second floor. This will feature product launches from a number of major international brands, including YOO Home and Bethan Gray.
A group of shed-like structures will gather in Trafalgar Square for “A Place Called Home”, one of the LDF’s Landmark Projects, which last year saw the Escher-inspired Endless Stair on the South Bank.
Jasper Morrison has made a little house for a pigeon-fancier, referencing the square’s most frequent visitors, while Israeli designers Raw Edges have maximised space in their house with walls that can be moved to change one room into another. londondesignfestival.com/landmark-projects
The Saturday Market Project
A pop-up workshop in Leonard Street, east London, the Saturday Market Project will be hosting daily workshops, demonstrations and masterclasses where visitors can learn to make a variety of different objects.
The drop-in sessions are free but there will also be kits on sale. Try your hand, for example, at spoon and spatula carving, kite design, pencil making or sapphire shaping. saturdaymarketproject.co.uk
This year the trade fair 100% Design celebrates its 20th anniversary with a huge show at Earls Court, to be opened by Philippe Starck, the man behind designs such as the lemon squeezer that looks like it’s landed from Mars.
As well as a showcase for products from internationally recognised brands including Vitra, Bulthaup and Starck himself – who has designed a collection of colourful tiles called “Flexible Architecture” – this is also the place to spot Great British craftspeople such as Cornwall-based glassmaker Jo Downs, who will unveil her new handmade “Shoaling Fish” collection.
An eye-catching wallpaper is part of a range designed by Studio Job. 100percentdesign.co.uk
The formation of six “design districts” – Brompton, Chelsea, Clerkenwell, Islington, Queen’s Park and Shoreditch – will allow smaller galleries, cafés and retailers to get in on the festival act.
At stationery shop Present & Correct in Islington, for example, visitors can make their own stamps, while Clerkenwell will be hosting the first AN’D design and architecture film festival.
At Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, Modern Design Review will show work by emerging designers, while the “Extra-Ordinary Gallery” will take a fresh look at everyday objects.
In Brompton, there’s a Brompton Bicycle workshop at the Squint Ltd gallery. londondesignfestival.com/design-districts
London College of Communication
London College of Communication will be hosting a number of events, including Alan Kitching and Monotype’s celebration of poster pioneers and the exhibition 50 Years of Illustration (inspired by Lawrence Zeegen’s new book of the same name), which charts the rich history of illustration from the 1960s to the present day.
Among the iconic artworks to be seen are Guy Peellaert’s record sleeve for David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album and Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” posters for the 2008 Obama campaign.
The exhibition runs until October 31. lcc.arts.ac.uk
A shop window on to some of the best contemporary crafts and lighting from British designers. There’s also the opportunity to get yourself vacuum-packed, in what promises to be the weirdest show at the LDF: Lucy McRae’s installation is designed to give visitors an insight into what preparations for long-haul space travel would be like. Car manufacturer Mini has teamed up with Dezeen to show ideas on how to “grow” a car from organic material, and inventor Dominic Wilcox will be revealing his driverless car made of stained glass.
Look out too for the new Anglepoise lamp from Paul Smith and the Skyline lamps from Swedish duo Folkform. thedesignjunction.co.uk
The V&A museum
With installations, talks, lectures and workshops throughout the nine days, the V&A is the festival’s official nerve centre. Olympic torch designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have teamed up with BMW to produce one of this year’s most ambitious installations: two huge mirrored sails that will slowly rotate on the ceiling of the Raphael Gallery. Also at the V&A is Wish List, an exhibition of work made of American hardwood, one of the most sustainable types of timber.
A number of well-known architects and designers have commissioned emerging talents to create something they’ve always wanted: Amanda Levete, for example, has asked architecture graduate Win Assakul for an extendable fruit bowl to sit atop her dining table. vam.ac.uk
The London Design Festival takes place in venues across the city, September 13-21; for details visit londondesignfestival.com
Design fairs: the future
It used to be a common sight at design trade exhibitions: row after row of young designers standing awkwardly next to a prototype of their latest creation, writes Max Fraser. Asked what they were aiming to achieve, they invariably spoke of the hunt for a manufacturing brand to take on the design, produce it and sell it worldwide. It was rather a desperate story; the number of young hopefuls always outweighed the number of producers.
This scenario has shifted over the past decade. An appetite for exploring materials and inventing processes has given rise to a generation of enterprising individuals who are liberated from previous market obstacles. Last year, for example, designer Paul Cocksedge invented an affordable Bluetooth-powered amplifying device called Vamp, funded via Kickstarter.
London’s Makerversity provides making and learning facilities for entrepreneurs; websites such as Sculpteo, Shapeways and Ponoko enable people to upload their designs and have them printed in 3D; and online community Fixperts invites us to share solutions to practical problems. Events are also springing up that work as incubators of a high-tech DIY culture. The biggest, Maker Faire, has already held gatherings in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York, helping to popularise the use of 3D printing, open-source software platforms and other tech wizardry. A Maker Faire will take place in 2015 at Here East, the new digital quarter in London’s Olympic Park.
The new era by no means signals the end of giant manufacturing brands but the end of the monopoly of the giant. The maker revolution reveals a desire for products to be the way we want them, not necessarily the way companies want to build them. Soon, we will ask each other, “Have you bought it or have you made it?” And perhaps no one will be able to tell the difference.
Max Fraser is deputy director of the London Design Festival