Ten must-see exhibitions at the 2021 London Design Festival

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The London Design Festival celebrates the work of talented designers, artists, architects and retailers, and puts London on the map as the gateway to the international creative community.

Now in its 19th year, the festival will run from 18–26 September. If you’re in London during this time, there’s an exciting programme planned for you, with a mix of awe-inspiring installations and exhibitions, plus a fascinating selection of talks and workshops. Much of the festival is free to attend – even better!

Here’s our roundup of what to look out for…

1. Medusa

Medusa is a groundbreaking installation from mixed reality studio Tin Drum and Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. It’s an incredible visualisation of architecture that examines the links between modern life, designed space and climate change. Watch in wonder as natural and architectural features shift and evolve around movement.

When and where: 10.00 to 17.20 on 18–19, 22–23 and 25–26 September, Raphael Gallery, V&A Museum.

2. Design Furniture Gallery

If you’re in Mayfair, don’t miss the latest work of one of the most iconic and in-demand designers today, Achille Salvagni. He’ll present a bold and contemporary collection of furniture, lighting and vessels inspired by historical Italian artistry and made using traditional craft techniques.

When and where: various times, every day except 19 and 26 September, Achille Salvagni Atelier, W1S 4FE, Mayfair Design District.

3. Mellifera: The Dancing Bee Hives

To highlight the importance of the UK’s bee populations, French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani has designed a mesmerising installation of white swirling beehives, suspended in the atrium at Fortnum & Mason. The beehives are 3D printed modules made from fermented sugar.

When and where: various times, every day at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, W1A 1ER.

4. National Trust Papers II

Little Greene is a British paint and wallpaper manufacturer with a mission to bring historical designs back to life. The company is presenting its new wallpaper collection, designed in collaboration with the National Trust, in its London showrooms during the festival. National Trust Papers II celebrates enduring design, with elements taken from Georgian and Victorian block-printed papers and older decorative objects, including a 15th-century tapestry.

When and where: every day at all four Little Greene showrooms in Marylebone, Notting Hill, Chelsea and Islington.

5. Between Forests and Skies

A special commission for the V&A, Between Forests and Skies by Nebbia Works is an immersive, low-carbon pavilion made from thin sheets of aluminium. You’ll marvel at this delicate-looking yet deceptively robust structure that appears to float over an elliptical pool of water. The space inside the pavilion is a series of reflections created by the sky and the water.

When and where: 10:00 to 17:45, 18–19 and 22–26 September, John Madejski Garden, V&A Museum.

6. Louis Vuitton – Objets Nomades

Objets Nomades is a series of experimental yet functional travel and home-related objects, designed by some of the world’s most sought-after designers and then made by Louis Vuitton. During the London Design Festival, you’ll get the chance to discover this beautifully crafted, limited edition collection in-store.

When and where: every day, Louis Vuitton, 17–20 New Bond Street, W1S 2RD, Mayfair Design District.

7. The Illuminated Garden featuring Super Nature TV

If you’re walking the city at night, head over to King’s Cross to view the Illuminated Garden, a set of brightly lit arches (a sustainable, reusable design called Space Frames) from Studio Mieke Meijer. It’s a playful installation that mimics the timeless beauty of the surrounding industrial architecture.

When and where: open 24 hours throughout the festival, Coal Drops Yard, N1C, King’s Cross Design District.

8. The Beacon of Hope

Billed as a single spire of optimism, The Beacon of Hope is an eight-metre-tall structure made from bamboo and covered with a bright yellow pavilion canopy. A collaboration between artist Joseph Williams and engineering firm AKT II, the project was originally designed as part of the Climate Art programme. It portrays how art, architecture and engineering can combine to nurture our planet.

When and where: 09:00 to 18:00, 22–26 September, Old Street Yard, London, EC1Y 8AF, Shoreditch Design Triangle.

9. Kuulas Lighting Installation

Another captivating display is Kuulas, a spectacular handmade chandelier from contemporary lighting company Cameron Design House. It’s a configurable design of spheres and chains, inspired by design icons of the past. This installation is part of Design London, so you’ll need a paid ticket to see it.

When and where: various times, 22–25 September, Magazine London, SE10 0JH, Design District at Greenwich Peninsula.

10. Digital Atmosphere

Visualise air quality through an intriguing mixed reality sculpture by Studio Above&Beyond. The piece explores how art and technology can illuminate air quality, which is ordinarily invisible to the eye. The sculpture has a sensor that picks up changes in the air quality of the immediate environment and translates it into an augmented reality (AR) simulation. The project aims to encourage visitors to visualise a zero-carbon emissions future for cities.

When and where: 10:00 to 17:45, 18–19 and 22–26 September, V&A Museum.


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