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  • headphones by Unit Lab [South]

Festival forward

Crafts magazine picks a few highlights at this year’s LDF, 15-23 September

It’s strange to think that when it launched in 2003, the London Design Festival was not universally popular. The capital already had a design scene that had grown up organically around 100% Design, including Designersblock in the East End and a series of events around Westbourne Grove. The general consensus in the industry was that co-founders Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans were arriviste.

Fifteen years on and that notion has been firmly dispelled. The pair has created an umbrella brand that has given the design industry critical mass, increased international recognition and produced a vast array of events including trade fairs, installations and talks. Last year the festival welcomed 450,000 visitors from 75 countries. As Evans points out, it has become ‘a platform for hundreds of design stories to be told…to an expanding audience hungry for design ideas and enjoying the quality and diversity of what’s on offer’.

The big news this year is that designjunction has a new home on the South Bank. For those interested in the hand-made, it’s always worth checking out Future Heritage at Decorex and the British Craft Pavilion, which is part of
the London Design Fair at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. And the festival celebrates a decade at the V&A with a string of installations including MultiPly, an interactive maze-like structure, designed by architect Waugh Thistleton in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council and ARUP.



Promising a genuinely global line-up, this year’s London Design Biennale (4-23 September) at Somerset House welcomes designers from over 40 countries and territories showing projects themed around ‘emotional states’. Shown left is David Elia’s Desmatamento chair, the basis for his presentation for Brazil that explores the country’s commitment to end illegal deforestation.

Desmatamento chair, David Elia


Catching our eye over in East London is a collaboration between Ella Doran and Urban Upholstery, a pop-up space by textile designer Donna Wilson on Charlotte Road (17-22 September), and the Material of the Year display at London Design Fair (20-23 September), which devotes itself to plastic, featuring designers such as Central Saint Martin’s graduate Charlotte Kidger, whose work is pictured left.

Charlotte Kidger


At Tom Dixon Studio in Coal Drops Yard, designer Bill Amberg launches a new collection of digitally printed leather (see Crafts no. 273), complete with designs by Faye Toogood (pictured right), Timorous Beasties and Tom Dixon himself.

Faye Toogood’s design for the new Bill Amberg leather collection


The South East Makers Club returns for its third year, with Deptford as the focal point for a weekend of activities (14-16 September). Pictured right are headphones by Unit Lab, a Peckham-based design studio, which aims to ‘take science out the lab’ and will be taking up residence in Deptford Market Yard.

headphones by Unit Lab



The Brompton Design District offers the biggest draw to the west of the city, with a packed programme curated by Jane Withers themed around a shift in our attitude to materials and waste. Celebrating its
20th anniversary, Mint will display more than 60 emerging and established names, including CARA \ DAVIDE with their Territorio project (pictured right) using reclaimed wood and industrial clay.

CARA \ DAVIDE, Territorio project

The Major Fairs

The various trade fairs continue to be a mainstay of the week. As well as London Design Fair mentioned opposite, festival-goers can expect a new lease of life for designjunction (20-23 September), which moves to three sites on the South Bank. Meanwhile, Decorex returns to Syon Park (16-19 September), inviting back Corinne Julius for the fifth edition of Future Heritage, her popular curated showcase of makers, this year featuring the likes of James Shaw (see feature on page 46), Rebecca de Quin and Glithero, whose Silverware Vase is shown right.

Silverware Vase, GLITHERO. PHOTO PETR Krejčí