The London Design Festival 2010- A Year of Collaboration and Creativity

The 2010 London Design Festival has just ended, but echoes of activity which brought the capital’s design community together will resound for many months. This has been a bumper year, with over 240 registered partner events and a tempting mixture of launches, pop-ups, exhibitions, tours and talks taking place all over the capital.

Ben Evans, the Festival’s Director commented:

“The Festival is a platform for new ideas and it is this that draws the crowds and catches media attention. Being focused on ideas is what makes the London Design Festival so distinctive”.

The eighth London Design Festival ran from 18 – 26 September and, yet again, was regarded as the ‘starter gun’ for the capital’s cultural autumn, followed closely byLondon Fashion Week and Frieze, which combine to offer six weeks of celebration of the creative industries.  However, the London Design Festival is a unique event in the sense that it embraces the entire city rather than focussing on one area or single site.  Not only does the London DesignFestival embrace the important trade fairs – 100% Design, Tent, Origin, Designers Block and the major design schools and colleges – which kick off during the nine days, but it encourages design enthusiasts to travel the length and breadth of the city to seek out new talent and concentrations of activity.

Estimates for the number of visitors to the London Design Festival events this year looks likely to reach 350,000, significantly more than who attended Festival events in 2009.

Trafalgar Square has become the Festival’s centrepiece. This year Audi sponsored an installation called Outrace, designed by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, which used eight huge robots (from Audi’s car manufacturing plant in Ingolstadt) to ‘write in light’.  The robots were fitted with LED light heads which wrote out messages which the public sent through via a website. These messages could then be viewed flickering along the base of the robots and be seen online too.

For the second year running The V&A provided an excellent hub for the Festival. The museum hosted a number of installations – and produced a special map to help visitors to navigate their way around the galleries to see the pieces. The Times sponsored a series of breakfast talks from designers and also from Ed Vaizey MP, the Culture Minister.  Designer Stuart Haygarth worked with John Jones picture framers to create an eye-catching and thought-provoking installation using off-cuts from picture frames on the marble staircase.

A series of Designer Maps were produced by Michael Johnson of johnsonbanks which offered a tour of the museum to visit a variety of objects chosen by well known designenthusiasts including Sir Paul Smith, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, model Erin O’Connor, singer Florence Welch and many others.

Max Lamb exhibited his new work in carved plaster in the magnificent surroundings of the Cast Court. The piece is a commission by HSBC Private Bank as part of their Connection Collection.

Oskar Zieta arranged his elegant ‘Blow and Roll’ ellipses over the water in the Madejski Garden.

The prestigious London Design Medal was won by Thomas Heatherwick – a very popular choice – which was celebrated at a special dinner at the Andaz Hotel.

At the Southbank Centre, Paul Cocksedge was commissioned by the Festival organizers to produce an installation for its Size + Matter initiative. His creation of ‘Drop’, a huge metal coin (as if dropped from the heavens by a giant) proved popular with people of all ages who willingly stuck pennies onto the magnetized surface, turning it from bronze to copper. Each penny added will be turned into a donation of £1 to Barnardo’s, by the charity’s main sponsors.

Design Districts are growing apace.  The well established areas of Brompton in the West, Brick Lane in the East, Southbank Centre in the South were joined this year by three new districts – Covent Garden, Fitzrovia Creative and Clerkenwell.

One of the big ‘hits’ of this year’s Festival was HEL YES! which showcased the best in Finnish food and design. This pop-up restaurant was realised by a team of Finnish designers and food visionaries. An improvised ‘campsite’ with tented seating areas, the restaurant showed off furniture made from young aspen trees from a forest near Helsinki.

And this year we even had the Anti Design Festival, instigated by Neville Brody who created a series of design ‘happenings’ in Redchurch Street in E2, which aimed to express the process of design and creativity rather than the finished product.

Sir John Sorrell, Chairman of the London Design Festival commented:

“The internationalism of the Festival was reflected in visitors from over 50 countries and projects from 35. Also the announcement of the new partnership with Beijing will take the Festival into a new era as its influence spreads worldwide”.

Next year the London Design Festival will run from 17 – 25 September 2011 and the London Design Festival team intends to build on the success of this year and create an equally memorable event.


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