Design News London Design Festival 2018

12th October 2018

The month of September is particularly busy in the design world because it’s London Design Festival. For the duration of the festival, London attracts an international design audience with a busy calendar of shows, installations, talks and pop-up shops. This year the festival ran from Saturday 15th to Sunday 23rd September and the prominent theme was ‘thoughtful design’.

This included several exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert Museum that encouraged attendees to think and feel, in addition to aesthetic appreciation. The carbon neutral sculpture, MultiPly, was designed to highlight that the construction sector contributes to almost half of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. The structure is built from timber, which is a sustainable building material, encouraging the public to consider more eco-friendly ways to build and create.

Similarly, across each of the design and trade shows, there was a large presence of natural materials presented in upholstery, lighting and hard furniture. As an example, Woodwork was prominent in the Wewood stand at Decorex. The Portuguese Joinery brand specialises in manufacturing and exporting solid wood furniture, highlighting a 1950s theme in their style using natural materials to create stylish pieces for the home.

Colour, pattern and texture was also a key highlight for this year’s show; designers moved away from traditional rigid pieces and played with fluidity across the board. A great example was this acoustic wall covering by artist Anne Kyyro Quinn and the marble flower shaped basins from bathroom brand Antonio Lupi at 100% Design.

Over at Somerset House, the London Design Biennale was in full swing. Now in its third year, it is home to immersive installations and dramatic designs. Always a highlight on the calendar, this year’s theme was ‘emotional states’, which looked into how design influences our emotions and feelings. With over 40 countries, cities and territories participating, the show was an abundance of colour and inspiring designs.

As you entered the grounds, an installation from Greece, reminiscent of a playground ride, was the central attraction, dominating the courtyard. ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ was comprised of a 17 metre-long wall constructed from a steel spring skeleton built up with recycled plastic which flexes, morphs and breathes around the human body. Visitors were invited to transgress through this mechanical boundary, and as they tread, experience the skin of the wall transforming in response. It encouraged visitors to imagine a world in which buildings, boundaries and walkways morph and adapt in response to human intent, shedding light on a potential future for cities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the attraction proved very popular.

Flynn Talbot’s rainbow-coloured full spectrum was another popular installation. It was a celebration of love, inspired by a new spirit of openness in his native country. The inspiration for his installation came just before Christmas 2017 when, after a decade of debate, Australia became the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage.

In the Far East, Hong Kong managed to conjure up the evocative smells of the ‘fragrant harbour’ and explored how they reawaken emotions from the distant past. Wallpaper with ‘opium’, ‘egg tarts’, ‘incense’ and ‘roast ducks’ was on display, encouraging visitors to scratch-and-sniff the scents indelibly associated with Hong Kong.

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