Currently celebrating its 15th year running, it was more inspirational and widespread than ever before. With installations, gallery shows, lectures, pop-up shops and more running throughout the city I found that I could have easily spent the whole week taking it all in.
The natural place to make a start seemed to be the V&A, the home and central base of the festival. The first thing that struck me was this year’s LDF branding proudly showcased at the entrance of the V&A with some attractive and perfectly crafted neon typographic signage, which was reflected throughout the festival’s printed materials. Located next to the entrance of the museum, I started by having a wander around the ‘Plywood: Material of the modern world’ exhibition. This was well worth a visit as it takes you on an interesting journey through the history of plywood design, featuring a range of objects from cars and skateboards, to a mirror dinghy suspended from the ceiling.
Next, I headed upstairs, catching a brief glimpse of the ‘While we wait’ stone sculpture by Palestinian architects Elias and Yousaf Anastas. Then came the real standout piece for me at the V&A, in the form of the ‘Reflection Room’ by Flyn Talbot. Set in a long narrow room, strips of blue and orange light are reflected off a highly reflective material Barrisol, which lines the walls of the room. Visitors are invited to wander around the room, and are silhouetted against the lights and reflections. Another notable feature was Petr Stanicky’s Evocations, a thought-provoking installation which uses angled glass to create a range of mirror effects.
After the V&A, I headed to the Design Museum. It was my first visit to the museum since its renovation and move to Kensington late last year, and I was impressed! Not only were the exhibitions informative and fun, but the architecture of the building itself, paired with the airy feeling, open plan interior is a reason enough to make the trip. Children are encouraged to get involved and stuck into creative projects of their own, with the museum offering regular workshops and short courses. The ‘Designer Maker User’ exhibition is free, interesting and easy browsing for everyone.
My next port of call was the greatly anticipated (and highly Instagrammed) ‘Villa Walala’, one of the festival’s landmark projects. Created by textile designer Camille Walala the installation is a brightly coloured, heavily patterned inflatable, set just behind Liverpool Street Station in Exchange square. The concept is to create a sense of the unexpected and invites people to interact by creating a playful space to sit in, wander around and relax. The surrounding steps have had colourful vinyl patterns added to contrast the concrete, which if I’m honest, stood out to me aesthetically more than the installation itself.
My last stop was a fleeting visit to the ‘Urban Cabin‘ by MINI LIVING with Sam Jacob Studio. Situated in the OXO Tower Wharf Courtyard (a neighbour to our London office!), it is part of a larger ongoing project from MINI that uses innovative design to explore the creative use of space in a crowded urban environment. Consisting of a small shared kitchen and a micro-library space, it focuses on the importance of shared experiences, being resourceful and opening up design possibilities.
It has been another fun and inspirational year at LDF. Even though a day out barely scratches the surface of all the sights and experiences that the event has to offer, I am now back at my desk feeling refreshed and full of new ideas.