Inspiration Monday: Top 5 tips for the London Design Festival 2015

The craziness of the London Design Festival is upon us once again. Each year it grows bigger and bigger, encompassing new parts of the city that have previously felt left out of late September’s creative buzz. Even to the hardened design festival goer London’s sheer scale can seem overwhelming. So, to help you with the impending FOMO, we’ve chosen 5 happenings that we think are must-sees.

I’ve chosen these, of course, through the Creative Data lens, which means I am interested in works that engage the public in a dynamic, interactive way, have an attention grabbing beauty, and will provoke conversations about some challenging social and or environmental themes.

We’ve also made an effort to chose events that are off the beaten path and feature emerging talent, as we know you’ll already have the V&A, Somerset House and Design Junction on your hit list.

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1. SustainRCA – Royal College of Art

Having been a judge at the first SustainRCA Awards in 2011, I am always excited by this show of new talent and their take on what it means to design a sustainable future. There are will be, inevitably, fascinating ideas in this show from across all RCA platforms. This is where the future is being created. The RCA says:

“This year, topics such as renewable, de-centralised energy and responses to London’s housing inequality, lack of connection with nature and the circular economy are most prominent. Notable work includes leather alternatives from jellyfish blooms and pineapple leaves, a controversial new way of mining precious metals and flexible wind harvesting structures.

This year’s theme is New Narratives – a nod to the need for new political and economic paradigms, and those willing to take a stand on environmental leadership. Expect ingenious products, materials innovation, solutions for society, and thought-provoking pieces that herald a bright new world.”


2. Curiosity Cloud – Brompton Design District

I think this installation by Austrian design duo mischer’traxler is vying for top spot at the festival in terms of beauty, drama, interaction and thought provoking content. This is what LDF say about it:

“The installation comprises 250 mouth-blown glass globes made by the Viennese glass company Lobmeyr. Each globe contains a single hand-fabricated insect and each insect has been printed onto foil, which has been laser cut and then hand embroidered to create the body. Capturing the full range of human engagement with this natural order, 25 insect species are represented, falling into three categories: extinct, common, and newly discovered.

From a distance, the insects are quiet and calm. A scattered few across the installation move, their vessels emitting a soft, glowing light. As visitors enter the darkened room and approach the installation, the insects come to life – moving more rapidly and emitting trilling noises as they collide with the glass in which they are encapsulated.

‘We have created a calm, yet alluring atmosphere, where people can engage with the installation and each other,’ say the designers. ‘It is a playful experience, but also a thoughtful project pointing at mankind’s relationship to nature. We want people to be surprised and delighted.'”


3. Colourful Crossings – Bankside Design District

This year the festival has finally arrived on the south side of the River Thames with the Bankside Design District. The work that leapt out at me when scrolling through their listings was ‘Colourful Crossings’ – 3 installations by 3 different artists that encourage interaction with the neighbourhood. This is what LDF say:

“Avenue of Art will take art out of its traditional gallery contexts and transform public spaces with exciting and engaging experiences. The project aims to encourage greater footfall along the street, changing the way it is used and perceived by pedestrians and motorists. The artists commissioned include:

EXYZT – a French collective of architects, artists and makers whose pieces are designed to encourage participation from the public. Their piece Crossing Stories will feature designs applied to the roadway and street furniture to draw visitors on a journey, and will build on their earlier work in the neighbourhood.

• Renowned photographer Morgan Silk, who will collaborate with a computer programmer to create a photographic image which uses anamorphosis and a new material to create an optical illusion.

Adam Frank is an artist and designer from New York, who will bring his work ‘The Performer’ to the UK for the first time. The piece is a simple spotlight projected on to the ground, when a pedestrian walks into the light it triggers a spontaneous round of applause.


4. 2°C – Aram Gallery

I’m intrigued to see the visions that several interesting designers have come up with in this exhibition about how we communicate climate change. This is what the Aram Gallery say:

“Devised by Disegno magazine, the exhibition has been designed by award-winning creative agency Universal Design Studio and curated by The Aram Gallery’s Riya Patel. The exhibition features original work by designers Dominic WilcoxIlona Gaynor, Maria Blaisse, Marjan van Aubel, Neri&Hu, Parsons & Charlesworth (see image above of Char-Dolly), PearsonLloyd, Ross Lovegrove, Sam Baron and Universal Design Studio.

2°C argues that design has a valuable contribution to make to the climate change debate. Presenting models, photography, graphics and objects, the exhibition will show provocative and thought-provoking proposals for how design could change public understanding of the issues surrounding global warming.”


5. Zero Waste Forum – Protein x Matter

Amazing to see another environment focused event happening this week. This panel discussion tomorrow evening looks promising. This is what Protein x Ma-tt-er say:

“Join us for a panel discussion with a new generation of designers, experimenting with innovative, sustainable production methods, for a look at how we’re heading for a zero waste future.”

Marjan Van Aubel (image above from The Energy Collection) — is a designer of materials and objects whose practice spans the fields of science and chemistry. Her work has been nominated at the Design of the Year Awards twice and is featured in MoMA as well as the Vitra Design Museum.

Shamees Aden — is a London-born researcher and a multidisciplinary designer exploring the potential of how new scientific practices could impact future designs. She has worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen as well as Nike.

Silo — is a zero waste restaurant in Brighton designed from back to front, with the bin always in mind. It’s eliminated the production of waste by simply choosing to trade directly with farmers, using re-usable delivery vessels and choosing local ingredients that themselves generated no waste.”

Protein x Ma-tt-er: Zero Waste Forum’ at One Good Deed Today, London, E2 8AG, 22 September: 19:00 – 20:00