London Design Festival: Our Highlights

London Design Festival is back and bigger than ever, with events, talks, open studios and happenings all over town. Spot installations that are popping up everywhere – like Paul Cocksedge’s Please Be Seated in Finsbury Avenue Square in the City (left), and Camille Walala’s colour-pop furniture on South Molton Street. The central hub is the V&A, plus there are ‘Design Districts’ that include Brompton, Mayfair, Marylebone, Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Pimlico Road, West Ken, Paddington, Victoria, Kings Cross, Bankside and new this year, Chelsea. We’ve sifted through the lengthy program (a lot of which is industry/trade only) to pick out our highlights and to find the exciting events that are open to all:

Pimlico Road

Robert Kime will be hosting a five-day custom cushion and lampshade open studio at his shop on Pimlico Road. Antique fabrics and trims will be available to choose from, then design your own cushion or lampshade. 16-20 September, 10am-6pm, free.

Chelsea Design District

Sissi chair by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba at i-MADE

Head to the Saatchi Gallery for an exhibition of that celebrates Italian design, i-MADE, (20-22 September). Round the corner at Peter Jones, there will be a pop up exhibit all about the history of the department store from 1877-today, at a turning point before its facade gets a facelift. And the recently renovated National Army Museum will be showing The Art of Persuasion that explores the legacy of iconic designer Abram Games, the war poster artist.

Victoria Connections Design District

Westminster Cathedral is the place to aim for, where there will be a Life Labyrinth installation in the piazza in front of the church from ‘pioneering pattern duo’ Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham. For Londoners (like us) ashamed to say we’ve never stepped inside, now is the time with free Marble & Mosaic Design Tours of Westminster Cathedral running 14-17, 19 & 22 September 2-3pm, pre-booking essential. And we love the sound of the London Map Art workshops with illustrator Olivia Brotheridge. Arrange iconic landmarks with your favourite spots to create a unique masterpiece of London using Pochoir stencil printing, letterpress and calligraphy. 18 Sept 12.30-2pm, 4.30-6pm and 6.15-7.45pm, free but ticketed.

Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross

So much is going on here that it’s worth allowing time to wander and explore. Three highlights include Tom Dixon’s multi-sensory designs and innovations at his Coal Office hub, a look into Roksanda Ilincic’s designer Penthouse with free tours (daily at 10am, 12pm, 3pm book here) and the chance to try out whizzy tech innovations at Samsung’s new experiential space. There’s also an evening shopping event on 19 September with 20% at many stores including COS.

Brompton Design District

The V&A is the home of the Festival so no surprise that there’s masses going on here. There will be installations around the museum, including Sea Things in the Cromwell Road entrance – a two-way mirrored cube suspended in the air with an ocean animation that is internally reflected to infinity and comments on our seas and sustainability. On a similar theme, Exhibition Road’s Day of Design on Sunday 22 September will see the entire street pedestrianised and the V&A coming together with the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial College and the Design Museum to look at the role design can play in tackling climate change.


Everyone’s invited to the Marylebone Design District party from 6pm on 18 September at the Conran Shop. There Hauser & Wirth will reveal a curated edit of works from their artists and designers alongside The Conran Shop’s new-season selection. Free but register ahead here. Also in the area, Jo Malone will be opening their Georgian townhouse all week 18-22 September, showing an exhibition of works by Martyn Thompson.

Find the full Festival program here, and use the My Festival app on your phone to instantly search events in your area.

London Design Festival: Our Highlights
14-22 September 2019
— Daisy Allsup
11th September 2019