London Design Festival 2019 was a celebration of creativity in the capital. The best projects put the spotlight on sustainability and activating public spaces – these are our favourites.
September 26th, 2019
This year’s Landmark Project saw designer Paul Cocksedge transform London’s largest pedestrian neighbourhood with a sculptural seating installation made from more than 1000 timber scaffolding planks atop a steel structure. The three undulating benches – which are 15.5-metres across and 3.4-metres at the tallest point – are arranged in a concentric plan in Broadgate’s Finsbury Avenue Square. This creates a maze-like structure that incorporates communal benches and archways under which people can walk and take shelter.
The glimmering, multi-faceted surface of a gemstone is fascinating to look at – magnify that surface 60 times, however, and you get something altogether more fantastical. This was the starting point for Void, photographer Dan Tobin Smith’s installation in collaboration with Gemfields in the basement of Collins Music Hall. The installation structure – designed by The Experience Machine – is made up of four screens in a 360° configuration on a raised platform onto which the blown-up images are projected. The result? Kaleidoscopic images that look straight from outer space.
This sculptural installation by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma explores how traditional and contemporary materials can be combined to celebrate the inherent characteristics of each in new ways. The cocoon-like form has been constructed from woven bamboo and carbon fibre and is based on work from the experimental Kengo Kuma Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. Kuma believes that the rigidity of the carbon fibre combined with the pliancy of the bamboo – which causes the sculpture to lift out of the pond in the John Madejski Garden – could have applications for buildings in earthquake-prone areas.
Design studio LAYER collaborated with responsible fashion label RÆBURN on the Canopy Collection of rocking chairs and screens made from surplus military parachutes. The project not only explores the innovative upcycling of an existing textile but the process of collaboration across creative industries. The collection of furniture was launched in the new RÆBURN retail space in central London alongside the label’s Autumn/Winter tenth anniversary collection.
Visitors to the 17th-century Fenton House were invited to take a seat and reconsider the ornate interior of the historic Hampstead residence through the addition of evocative bespoke chairs. Curated by designer Gitta Gschwendtner, who invited five other designers to take part – Michael Marriott, Maisie Broadhead, Nina Tolstrup, Frith Kerr, and Carl Clerkin – Please Sit comprises six chairs that respond to various elements of the home’s rooms. Gschwendtner crafted a golden chair with a laddered backrest that took inspiration from embroidered wall hangings depicting the biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder; while Kerr created an elaborate bed – complete with pom pom slippers, green satin sheets and peach satin cushions – that encouraged visitors to consider the fine line between good and bad taste.
A famous Eames textile pattern has been reimagined and brought to life in the entrance to the V&A by British architect Sam Jacob. Sea Things replaces the fish and sea creatures of Charles and Ray Eames’ original pattern with cartoon-like representations of plastic waste. The stop-motion animation – playing inside a large suspended cube – develops chronologically from 1907, the year Bakelite was invented, to 2050, the year it has been predicted that the volume of plastic will be greater than all marine life.
French designer Camille Walala’s idiosyncratic vision brings a touch of bright postmodernism to South Molton St in central London. The boldly patterned planters, benches and flags were dubbed the Walala Lounge, and transformed the street into a more pedestrian-friendly space. The ten benches and planters will remain in place for a full year.
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