Our guide to the London Design Festival

Villa Walala

We truly love the frisson that the London Design Festival (this year from 16-24 September) brings to the capital. By no means just for decophiles, the range of events includes interiors, architectural, shopping and art shindigs to suit all tastes – even those that purport to have no interest in design at all will be won over. You can play it safe in a museum, take a wander off the beaten track into the studios of upcoming designers, shop till you drop, lose yourself in grandscale installations, geek-out at insider talks or set off on a design quest to sample a morsel of it all across the capital. We’re taking it as read that the independent designer showcases Tent London and trade show 100% Design are must visits for real fans, so beyond these, here are our picks.

The headline installations have become a highlight of the festival and this year’s does not lower the bar. The banker’s bustle of the City is the somewhat brilliantly incongruous venue for Villa Walala, a psychedelic, giant building block castle edifice in Exchange Square, Broadgate by designer Camilla Walala.

Another lynchpin of the event has become the collaboration with the V&A, and this year the museum has invited designer Flynn Talbot to make an impression. The result? A reflection room composed of 56 blue and orange light panels that envelop the viewer in a bath of colour. There’s more sensory overload in Ross Lovegrove’s Transmission Room, a giant, undulating piece of sensually folded fabric that, again, almost swallows the viewer whole.

For more hands-on immersion, there’s a multitude of workshops and live events – we like the sound of a font selfie workshop (what font are you?); a gilding class with Mike Meyer and Ashley Bishop of Brilliant Signs, teaching novice enthusiasts how to make gold leaf lettering for signs (£495, book tickets here); others with Bramwell Brown Clocks, who are letting keen-horologists into the secret of their miniature creations, allowing them to paint their own miniatures and also inserting those figurines into clocks (tickets £15, more info here); and a live lettering quest with master calligrapher Paul Antonio as he inscribes quotes all around the windowpanes, walls and streets of Borough.

Interaction of another kind can be found where designers are holding Open Studio days, including V&A residents ceramicist Lubna Chowdary and traditional-craft-meets-3d-printing jeweller Silvia Weidenbach, and both Makers House, in Deptford Market Yard, and Oxo Tower, which feature a collection of studios showcasing both their products and the ways in which they craft them.

The festival would not be complete without plenty of opportunities to shop, and the new collections of many designers will be debuted here. Our heads are turned by the month long Private View at the Conran Shop, new lighting that heads to the dark side by Lee Broom, and three new collaborations from Ilse Crawford: hand carved furniture from Bosnia, and wallpapers and an oil lamp from Sweden.

Lastly, to kick back after all this culture, we’ll point you in the direction of Sketch, which has created a special flight of cocktails to celebrate the launch of a light, a bar and a chair by members of the Matter of Stuff collective; 19 Greek Street, which has been transformed into The House of Wallpaper by Graham and Brown; and the Truman Brewery, which is hosting Cocktails and Robots, a sound and light installation where robots are the barmen.

Our guide to the London Design Festival
— Beatrice
6th September 2017