After visiting Paris design week, I came back to London just in time for the London design festival. The scale of the festival is much bigger than the Paris one, which makes it harder to cover, hence I decided to focus on the main venue and the trade fairs.
My first stop was the V & A museum, where visitors were given maps to navigate through the maze-like space and hunt for various design installations by the hottest designers working in the industry today.
Patkau Architects’ plywood “Ice-Skating Shelters” in the courtyard
One of the most striking installations is Rachel Kneebone‘s five-metre-high “399 Days” porcelain sculpture. The monumental sculpture does not look out of place among the masterpieces in the V&A’s sculpture court, and it will be on display until January 2018.
Top left & bottom: Rachel Kneebone’s “399 Days” sculpture; Top right: Julian Melchiorri’s “Exhale” Bionic Chandelier
At the side entrance of the museum hangs a less conspicuous but fascinating installation: “Exhale” Bionic Chandelier by design engineer and entrepreneur and CEO of Arborea, Julian Melchiorri. I encountered the designer’s highly-innovative bionic leaves a few years ago; and here, he has used the bionic-leaf technologies to create the world’s first living and breathing chandelier, designed to purify the air and remove air pollutants. In my view, this is what design innovation is about, and I strongly believe that the industry needs more collaborations between designers and engineers in order to create advanced products that would make our world a better place.
“While We Wait” by Elias and Yousef Anastas
Another towering structure is a meditative installation “While We Wait” created by Bethlehem-based architects Elias and Yousef Anastas. It is made of over 500 modules of stone from different regions of Palestine, fading upwards in colour from earthy red to pale limestone. The architects have been using local stones and working directly with factories and artisans in Palestine to optimise energy consumption and create a more sustainable way in contemporary architecture.
An immersive coloured light experience by lighting designer Flynn Talbot in the “Reflection Room”
Ross Lovegrove‘s 21.3 meters long fluid sculpture of folded material “Transmission” in the tapestry room
“High Tide for Carmen” installation reveals the design process of the opera. Stage design by Es Devlin and video design by Luke Halls.
Two intriguing sculptures “Evocations” by Czech glassmaker Petr Stanický
On the top floor of the museum, I was captivated by Lubna Chowdhary‘s “Metropolis”, a multi-object work of over 1000 handmade miniature clay sculptures. The installation charts the material culture of our urban environment, reflecting the complexity of the man-made world and human production. The work was shortlisted for the Jerwood Ceramics Prize in 2001 and Lubna has continued to build on it over time, adding new objects to the original installation. It is truly wonderful.
‘Metropolis’ by Lubna Chowdhary
Gitta Gschwendtner‘s cool “Chair bench”
Contemporary Korean Ceramics exhibition
I also enjoyed seeing the work of 15 emerging and established artists from Korea at the Contemporary Korean Ceramics exhibition. The different styles and techniques employed by the artists reveal a diverse and enthralling Korean contemporary ceramic scene today.
“Plywood: Material of the Modern World” exhibition
In conjunction with the festival is the free exhibition, “Plywood: Material of the Modern World”, which focuses on the flexible material that has been widely used in the modern age. The exhibition will end on 12th November.