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  • From the new collection by Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council

The craft edit: 11 exhibitions to catch at London Design Festival

Our pick of events, from animal habitats to disruptive interventions in a heritage home

London Design Festival returns to the capital this month, bringing with it a gargantuan programme of exhibitions to all corners of the city. To save you from sore feet, we bring you an edit of the shows and installations not to miss – 11 events that rethink craft traditions, materials and modes of making.

Draga & Aurel, Agatha, Transparency Matters, part of Crossovers, organised by digital platform Adorno, which will feature at the London Design Fair

London Design Fair

East London’s Truman Brewery will host work by makers from around the world, including new products by Sharjah-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, which seeks to empower female craftspeople; Danish digital platform Adorno’s collection from local design scenes in Turkey, Mexico, Iceland and beyond; and the International Craft Pavilion (rebranded from ‘British’ last year), which will feature Indonesian ceramics studio Kandura and design platform México Territorio Creativo, among others.

19–22 September; Old Truman Brewery, E1

A Portrait of a Place

Mayfair’s The New Craftsmen gallery will explore the endangered art of straw-weaving on Orkney island through a new range of furniture, lighting, baskets and artwork. The gallery hopes the collaborative initiative will be a blueprint for other similar efforts across the British Isles.

12 September–31 October; The New Craftsmen, W1K

Work in progress by Marlene Huissoud for Brompton Biotopia

Brompton Design District

Designers will tackle the theme Nature Nurture in both literal and metaphorical senses. Among these will be animal habitats designed by the likes of Marlene Huissoud, known for her work with materials made by insects, and Master of Disguise, Seeds gallery’s exhibition of masks by contemporary artists and designers that explore the notion of ‘human nature’. 

14–22 September; Various locations in SW3, SW5, SW7 and SW10

Work on the V&A's Legacy project. Photo: Petr Krejci


Designers including Tomoko Azumi, Max Lamb and Raw Edges have been matched with leaders of major art institutions such as Tate, the Whitechapel Gallery and the Science Museum to produce objects in American red oak that will last beyond the festival. Nine will be presented as a group exhibition in the Victoria & Albert Museum, while a 10th will be installed in the Natural History Museum next door. While you’re at the V&A, look out for Sacred Geometry: an installation by glass artist Rony Plesl, cast using a new technology that allows the material to be shaped in a similar way to bronze, without its usual formal limitations.

14–22 September; Victoria & Albert Museum and Natural History Museum, SW7

Granby workshop will be at the new design district in King's Cross

Granby Workshop

A pop-up shop in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, will play host to Granby Workshop, which will present ceramic tableware made entirely from waste at Kiosk N1C.

18–22 September; Coal Drops Yard, N1C

Custom Exercise at the Ace Hotel

Curator Libby Sellers has asked designers to produce new items to be used at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch – all centred around reusing, repurposing and reinterpreting existing objects. 

17–22 September; Ace Hotel, E1

Christopher Farr will show a collection of rugs made by Afghan craftspeople via the organisation Turquoise Mountain

In the Making

Luxury carpet brand Christopher Farr will show off rugs and embroidery made in collaboration with Afghan artisans who work with the non-profit Turquoise Mountain. Weaving demonstrations and talks will run alongside the display.

15–20 September; Unit G17, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, SW10

Designer Cecily Ophelia demonstrate a beading technique learnt from craftswomen in Uganda at Material Connections

Material Connections

The Koppel Project in Soho will feature material-focused work by contemporary makers, showcasing ancient-glass blowing techniques in Herat, embroidery from the Jordan Valley and crocheting from Uganda. 

14–21 September; The Koppel Projects Central, W1F

Sebastian Brajkovic will exhibit at David Gill gallery

Sebastian Brajkovic: The Occidental Artisan

David Gill Gallery will exhibit the Dutch-Indonesian Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, who combines mathematically inspired forms, 18th-century aesthetics, archaic techniques and digital technology.

13 September–17 October; David Gill Gallery, SW1Y

At the workshop of Aldworth James & Bond

The Off-Cut Challenge

Aiming to celebrate craftsmanship and cutting-edge digital making, fabrication company Aldworth James & Bond will present toys, furniture and modular systems created by local makers from waste materials. After the festival, each object will be donated to a local organisation or community group in Deptford.

14–15 September; Deptford Market Yard, SE8

Render of Gitta Gschwendtner's Ladder Chair in the garden of Fenton House

Please Sit

Six designers have been invited to disrupt Fenton House – a 17th-century National Trust property in leafy Hampstead, once belonging to a wealthy merchant – with a playful series of furniture installations. Gitta Gschwendtner, Carl Clerkin, Frith Kerr, Maisie Broadhead, Michael Marriott and Nina Tolstrup each chose a room to create imaginative seating for, responding to elements ranging from porcelain poodles to snuff boxes.    

12 September–spring 2020; Fenton House, NW3 6SP

London Design Festival takes place from 14 to 22 September 2019 across the capital

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