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LDF in 2016 – A Utopia by Design

The addition of the London Design Biennale to London Design Festival in September makes it one of the industry’s most exciting and anticipated events of 2016.

London Design Festival is bigger and better than ever this year. Not only are there eight design districts – including the newly announced Brixton Design Trail – with hundreds of product launches, exhibitions and events across the capital from 17-25 September, this year also sees the addition of the London Design Biennale. Curated by the former editor of Icon magazine, Christopher Turner, the Biennale brings installations exploring the theme “Utopia by Design” from over 30 countries to London’s Somerset House from 7-25 September.

If you are heading to London in September, make sure not to miss our top picks – from ambitious landmark projects and exhibitions to major product launches.

Foil for Braun & PAIR for Fritz Hansen

Benjamin Hubert of experience design agency Layer has collaborated with German brand Braun to create Foil, an immersive installation located in the V&A’s Tapestry gallery.

The large-scale installation comprises 50,000 mirror-finish stainless steel panels on a 20-metre-long undulating ribbon that runs down the length of the gallery and moves in a constant sine-wave motion. Light from LEDs reflects off the surface to create an evocative pattern of scattered light around the gallery. The installation is accompanied by an atmospheric soundscape that emulates the fluid motion of the sculpture and light. The shape of the metallic elements is informed by the precision engineered shape of the Braun shaver foil and the movement is inspired by the 360-degree movement of the Braun shaver head.

“This project is particularly exciting for us as it’s our first artwork, so it’s less about conventional functionality and more about creating a heightened emotional experience,” says Hubert. “I want visitors to remember this sculptural landscape viscerally through all their senses.”

Layer is also launching PAIR for Fritz Hansen, a new chair that marks the iconic Danish brand’s first collaboration with a British designer. The chair is a contemporary mix of laminated wood, steel and plastic elements that can be combined in endless variations of material and colour. To celebrate the soft launch of PAIR, Hubert has curated an exhibition at the Fritz Hansen showroom highlighting the chair’s three-year development process.


Mathieu Lehanneur
Liquid Marble

French multi-disciplinary designer Mathieu Lehanneur invites viewers to enter into a meditative state with his work Liquid Marble, a large piece of jet-black marble sculpted into a realistic, yet static, impression of the ocean’s movement. The complex rippled surface was designed using sophisticated 3D software developed for the film industry, and the marble was then machined and hand polished.

“I’m always trying to understand how the human brain works, and how to put people in a very specific state of mind,” says Lehanneur. “The piece doesn’t move, but the reflection of light on the polished marble makes it feel like a real sea. The idea is to bring a piece of the water to a place where there is none to create a contemplative experience.”

Liquid Marble will be on show at the Norfolk House Music Room at the V&A. Also during LDF, Lehanneur will showcase a collection of new design pieces at Spring, a solo show at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery.


Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby

For the inaugural London Design Biennale, over 30 countries will present their vision of “Utopia by Design” at Somerset House. The theme commemorates the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic Utopia.

Representing the UK are renowned British design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who have created a kinetic sculpture called Forecast. The large-scale wind-powered installation will be on display in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House. The bright blue wind masts and rotating elements have been inspired by weather measuring instruments, and reference the UK’s longstanding history of harnessing the power of the wind.

“It seems this year, more than in recent years, the world around us has changed, shifted, in ways unpredictable and away from the idea utopia,” say the designers. “We hope Forecast contributes to a positive dialogue within the biennale, the design community and beyond”.

Barber & Osgerby are also presenting Hakone at Gallery Kreo, a solid oak table inspired by Japanesetorii gates.


Souvenirs for London

LDF has collaborated with leading designers to create a collection of design-led souvenirs celebrating London, which will be on show at a pop-up shop at the V&A’s Grand Entrance.

The contemporary souvenirs include a graphic matchbox tube and striped pencil by design duo Loris & Livia, who paid homage to the Belisha beacon used to mark pedestrian crossings in the capital; a simple timber and silicone puzzle for under-2s by architecture studio AL_A based on the sinuous form of the Thames River, which can also be used as a trivet or placemat; a collection of playful products by leading design consultancy Pentagram, including Cockney rhyming slang beer mats and a clock that marks the time with London postcodes; and a set of magnets by graphic designers Kellenberger White that can be used to construct words and objects, such as Big Ben and a double-decker bus.


Selfridges X London Design Festival

Iconic London department store, Selfridges is showcasing the best in locally-designed homewares with new, exclusive products from Faye Toogood’s 1882 Charcoal Ceramic Collection, Zaha Hadid’s Design home collection, and Tom Dixon’s New Materialism Range. Selfridges is also launching the “Makers at Selfridges” home range by independent British designers, and a collection of limited edition posters by leading designers, inspired by what design means to them.



Also keep an eye out for a retrospective of Jaime Hayon’s decade of collaboration with BD Barcelona at the brand’s new London showroom; Bert & May’s installation of bold, geometric tiles and fabrics withDarkroom; Jasper Morrison’s ongoing exhibition at the Tate Modern’s new Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron; colourful installations and limited edition products by Raw Edges celebrating the colour, pattern, texture and smell of tea, in-store at T2; and the WOOD collection, a collaboration betweenStudio Job and Bisazza comprising an eccentric interpretation of parquet with bold colours and 3D patterns.

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