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What to see at the London Design Festival

Ldf16 foil benjaminhubert braun 01
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The AJ selects eight highlights of the London Design Festival, including installations by Alison Brooks and Asif Khan

The London Design Festival (LDF) began yesterday (19 September) and sprawls over London, focused in the seven ’design districts’ of Bankside, Brixton, Brompton, Chelsea, Clerkenwell, Islington and Shoreditch. Organised locally and independently under the umbrella of the London Design Festival, there are over 400 events and exhibitions to see.

The highlight is the inaugural London Design Biennale at Somerset House, in which 37 countries explore the theme of ’Uptopia by Design’. Many pavilions present an architectural solution to that theme, and among all the random fun of a biennale China, UAE, Norway and Mexico are well worth a visit, exploring everything from trans-border masterplanning to ancient falaj irrigation systems.

The festival also commissions landmark projects and this year Asif Khan and Alison Brooks have installed interactive works in Shoreditch and behind Tate Britain respectively, and they are well worth checking out. The festival runs until 25 September; for more information visit www.londondesignfestival.com

Mini Living ‘Forests’ by Asif Khan


Mini living forests by asif khan connect space 3

Shoreditch Triangle design district, times vary, free

For one of the LDF’s commissioned landmark projects, Asif Kahn has created three forest bathing spaces filled with plants, which have been inserted into Shoreditch streets. Visitors are allowed to take away the plants, growing them in their own homes and sharing their progress on social media.

The Smile by Alison Brooks with Arup


American hardwood smile 1002

Chelsea College of Art and Design, 10am - 9pm, free

Dubbed ’the most complex CLT structure ever built’, Alison Brooks and Arup present a 34m-long ’smile’ made of Tulipwood in the parade ground of Chelsea College, behind Tate Britain. ’It looks like high-quality flooring,’ says Brooks, ’too good to be structural — and that’s kind of amazing.’

London Design Biennale at Somerset House


UK at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House

Until 27 September, 11am - 7pm (22 & 23 September 11am - 9pm), ticketed

Delightful, varied and interesting pavilions from 37 countries seeking design and architectural solutions to the theme of ’Utopia by Design’, as part of Somerset House’s 500th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Thomas Moore’s text Utopia. This is the first London Design Biennale and it overlaps with the festival.


Zaha Hadid Design Gallery on Goswell Road

101 Goswell Road, EC1V 7EZ, Mon - Fri 1pm - 6pm, free

A new exhibition featuring artwork from the archives and architectural models investigating the recently deceased starchitect’s early design proposals and research.

designjunction at King’s Cross


 The Monopoly-style houses at designjunction, King's Cross

King’s Cross, 22-25 September, Thu 11am - 8pm, Fri 11am - 7pm, Sat 11am - 6pm, Sun 11am - 5pm, ticketed

designjunction is an exhibition for contemporary interior design and culture, held annually in London and New York. The flagship show takes place in London as part of the London Design Festival, and this year takes place in its new long-term venue in King’s Cross. On Friday 24 September the AJ is hosting a talk at designjunction on the latest radical forms of practice.

London Design Festival at the V&A


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V&A, until 27 September, 10am to 5.45pm (Fridays to 10pm), free

An established collaboration of the festival, this year’s programme sees the museum filled with an extraordinary range of design installations large and small, intricate and majestic. It features large installations such as FOIL by Benjamin Hubert of Layer and The Green Room by Glithero (pictured).

100% Design


Design path by hakwood at 100 design

Design path by hakwood at 100 design

Olympia London, 21-24 September, Wed - Sat 10am – 6pm (Thu 10am – 9pm), open to the general public on Saturday 24 September, ticketed

First staged in 1995, 100% Design is the flagship commercial event of the London Design Festival. This year there is an extensive talks programme, bespoke installations and a showcase of carefully curated world-leading brands. The talks programme has been curated by the Design Museum as part of their ‘On Loan’ campaign in the Kensington design district ahead of its opening on 24 November 2016.

London Design Fair


Tingest collection by tingest from swedish design pavilion londondesignfair

Old Truman Brewery, 22-25 September. Thu 10am - 7pm, Fri - Sat 10am - 8pm, Sun 11am - 6pm, ticketed

London Design Fair holds the largest collection of international exhibitions, designers, brands, country pavilions and galleries all in one destination during the London Design Festival. It features 450 exhibitors from 29 countries, including independent designers, established brands, international country pavilions and galleries. Exhibits include the latest in furniture, lighting, textiles, materials and conceptual installations from around the world.  

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