September has always been one of our favourite months. It’s when the annual celebration of all things design rocks up in the capital. The London Design Festival is the ultimate chance to discover design and craft at its very best. Spanning major museums like the V&A and Somerset House, 11 different ‘Design Districts’, five ‘Design Destinations’ across town, and three ‘Design Routes’ it’s almost impossible to take it all in.
There were countless interesting objects on show. But here are the three that really captured our imagination.
In the Sackler Courtyard of the V&A, the festivals main hub, stands Multiply.
Multiply takes on two of the age’s biggest challenges – the need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change. It’s made from reusable cross laminated timber, is permeable and completely carbon neutral. Anyone doubting its strength only needs to feel the structure itself to find out that it’s as solid as brick.
To add a sense of fun this version is arranged in a maze-like pattern. You find yourself wandering in and out of the different pods and up and down the different levels. There’s a nice view to take in from the top floor. There’s a smile on everyone’s face. We catch ourselves imagining living in one of these, up in the hills, somewhere warm overlooking the sea. But these could be built anywhere, no matter what the climate.
Staying with the environmental theme, a small, slim pillar of shining bronze catches our eye from a corner of the John Madjeski garden. This is ‘A Fountain for London’ by designer Michael Anastassiades. This drinking fountain comprises a simple, fluted bronze column. A curved top creates a shallow bowl, which contains a concealed water dispenser. The idea is that, as you lean over to take a drink, the curved bronze surface will reflect golden light onto your face. It was commissioned by the London Fountain Company who want to bring back the lost drinking fountain culture that used to be so prevalent on our streets and thereby eliminating plastic waste. The amount of plastic out there is depressing. And this is a beautiful solution. We walk away hoping to see them popping up everywhere soon.
The third one that we really loved was the Dazzle installation by Design studio, Pentagram. The piece is part of 14-18 NOW, a programme marking the centenary of the First World War through artworks.
It’s pretty overwhelming (reflecting the scenes it comments on) as the work takes over the entire room, covering walls, floors and glass panels with monochrome graphic designs mixed with typography. It’s like standing inside a vortex of words.
Dazzle is based on the poem ‘Suspense’ by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, based on the Dazzle ships that were covered in different camouflage patterns to confuse the enemy during the war. The lines of the poem are scattered around the room like the trails of small boats.