This year’s London Design Festival welcomes us with the abundance of art installations, product launches, events and workshops. From Chelsea to Shoreditch, the people and places passionate about design in its many forms celebrate bright ideas and push the boundaries – but the variety makes it also somewhat difficult to choose. Have a look at our selection, and pick your London Design Festival highlights!


The Smile at Chelsea College of Arts

The Smile - London Design Festival highlights

What is The Smile? The innovative, all-wooden pavillon that celebrates the 21st century as the era of hardwood in design, as opposed to concrete and steel so symbolic in the 20th century. The  Alison Brooks Architects’ construction took 12 industrial-sized tulipwood panels that are as long as 14 metres and curved, and 2,000 screws. Two ramps are facing the sky and the college, and at night, the interior is lit up – so the pavilion looks like a huge lantern.

The Green Room at the V&A

The Green Room - London Design Festival highlights

Time is the inspiration for this installation at the V&A – and the clock suddenly becomes something else than just a tool to measure the time. Made of intricate, colourful strings that lift up fall down and turn around the central mechanism, it is a tribute to every passing moment, and a beautiful metaphor, too. “We wanted it to feel very much like you’re inside it and that it’s moving around you,” explains Tim Simpson, the co-founder of Glithero collective, the creators of the display. “Museums are all about our perception of time, so thinking about the work as a time piece within the building seemed like a very logical idea,” he added.

London Design Biennale

Opened for the first time ever, London Design Biennale in Somerset House brings over 35 countries together to piece together an exhibition centred around the perceptions and ideas about Utopia. All of the contributions are site-specific, and you’re able to see them only for the three weeks. Stop and look at Austrian contribution – a light installation that loses its harmony once approached by people, and step into Ballard-esque idea of a building that is a city in itself by China. The displays touch many problems, from the current life, through smart cities, to environment – and as it’s uniquely curated for the event, it’s one of the LDF unmissables.

designjunction opening at King’s Cross St Pancras

Dyslexic Mind The Green Room - London Design Festival highlights
by Kristjana S Williams

This year, the show found its new home in King’s Cross – with one of its remarkable exhibitions being Dyslexic Design. So many times, dyslexic people are not appreciated enough, but extremely creative – and the display showcases the positive effects of dyslexia on design.

London Design Fair

Rolla by Ann Kristin Einarsen, photo by Kaja Bruskeland - London Design Festival highlights
Rolla by Ann Kristin Einarsen, photo by Kaja Bruskeland

Brands from around the world have gathered for this grand expo to showcase the freshest directions in design, and present their trend-setting products. One of its highlights is 100% Norway – all about Scandinavian design and filled with modern products that tell the story of design in Norway. Takram, the Japanese creative studio, have also brought Dray Walk, an interactive installation that engages with the audience with VR, visualisations, and experimental projects. Interestingly, best Etsy creators also have their special moment: a dedicated exhibition will showcase the best of the craftsmen.

Sculpting Scent at Laboratory Perfumes

Laboratory Perfumes - - London Design Festival highlightsHow does the smell look like? Zuza Mengham in cooperation with Laboratory Perfumes tries to solve the paradox with resin sculptures, colours and shapes.

Type Tasting as a part of Bankside Design District

What's Your Type? - London Design Festival highlightsIf you’re a fan of neat typography or a designer, that might be a workshop for you! If you struggle with your font choices (we hope you abandoned Comic Sans ages ago and not overuse Helvetica), What’s Your Type? will introduce you to the world of typefaces, and show you how to pick a font in three steps.

Brixton Design Trail

Did you know that Brixton has its own currency? The notes feature born-and-bred David Bowie – and the founders of the movement are featured during the series of talks Re-Imagining Urban Life. An evening dedicated to sustainability and the role of community touches upon different subjects, from well-being to business. There’s also a proof that folk art can inspire fantastic conceptual art, and that Brixton accommodates cultural diversity: with PAJAKI (Spiders of Straw) installation, Karolina Merska re-created the traditional straw chandeliers by designing a massive pajak to decorate Brixton Village Market. In the meantime, you can stop at Pop Brixton, where the matter of community will also be dissected in a series of events.

A Load of Jargon in The Conran Shop Chelsea

Buzzwords surround some industries, tempting and breaking us every day. The creatives use very specific lingo, often throwing words around without wondering about their meaning. It’s Nice That and The Conran Shop are bringing these popular words to our attention in their exhibition – type, space and various material all collated together in an installation by Isabel + Helen.

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate whenever the opportunity arises. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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