With the 2020 design calendar being filled with cancellations and postponements, the annual London Design Festival is finally underway, albeit with a number of amendments, and a blend of physical and digital events. While the industry landscape is still unclear, as we cautiously emerge into a post-pandemic world, brands are taking this opportunity to re-engage with customers and openly discuss what the future holds. The creative community is once again leading the conversation on how the path ahead may look, acknowledging the lessons we have learnt, and will continue to learn, as priorities and mindsets shift in the ‘new normal’ we are becoming accustomed to.
The Festival, which began on Saturday and runs until 20th September, has a number of events highlighting topics such as community, circularity, sustainability and climate change. With a reduced number of Design Districts, and the absence of international visitors, the programme focuses on local design centres with new trails, showrooms and galleries connecting us to the wealth of talent across the city. New formats are also reminding us of the need to rethink the true purpose behind these industry events. Traditional fairs and exhibitions continue to feed seasonality and fast-paced consumer cycles, which has led to issues of mass production and excessive buying habits. So, in adapting to these new formats due to circumstance, it will help us realise the power of experience over against halls filled with new furniture designs which add to the rising consumerism we urgently need to curb. The power of networking, communication, discussion and collaboration, in addressing the different crisis’ we currently face, will inspire more action and can help bring the industry together in conscious and mindful ways.
Here are five highlights to look out for at this week’s annual design celebration:
The Circular Design Project
A collaboration between SAP, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and London Design Festival, The Circular Design Project is a series of online talks, seminars and discussions covering a variety of topics centred around circularity. The purpose is to help people understand the basic principles of circular design and the roadmap towards a circular future. The initiative further seeks to spark a shift within the mentality of designers themselves, engaging, educating and inspiring listeners, while highlighting the benefits of such change for both personal and professional paths.
The project will continue to develop after the festival concludes with the aim to create a physical installation and exhibition at next year’s event, alongside the opportunity to present at COP26 at Glasgow in November 2021.
You can find the full online talks schedule here.
The William Morris Design Line
Inspired by Morris’s statement ‘art made by the people and for the people’, this design trail seeks to bring the community together with messages of resilience, activism, unity and change. Running for the duration of the Festival through Walthamstow in East London, this new design location is bringing a fresh perspective to the capital’s annual event.
Celebrating local creatives in the area, The William Morris Design Line features a variety of events including a series of talks with Blackhorse Workshop, the Extinction Rebellion Art Group and industrial designer Liang-Jung Chen. These will address topics such as open-source design, design as a form of activism and the repurposing of hardware to create a new form of design culture for the future.
The full programme of events can be found here.
Launched to coincide with the London Design Festival, ReDesign Business is a festival of ideas putting design and business in dialogue together. With 2020 being a reset for many industries, this message is so pertinent in bringing the design and business worlds together, in a drive to create a sustainable future, and is a must-see for those seeking to find inspiration from the week ahead.
Set up by founder of speaking agency Propela, Deborah Rey-Burns, ReDesign Business is an initiative made possible by The Design Council and Design District. This global line-up of design thinkers and business leaders have set out to challenge conventional thinking and use the tools that the design industry can offer in unlocking a new approach as we enter a post-pandemic world. Posing the question, “What can design and business learn from each other?”, ReDesign Business begins today and will run until 19th September featuring an array of experts and visionaries including Anab Jain, the co-founder of Superflux and social entrepreneur Tolu Farinto.
This bold and thought-provoking initiative is set to bring a variety of challenging topics to the table – the full schedule can be discovered here.
Located in Granary Square in Kings Cross, Planted is a new design show looking to reconnect cities with nature. With a physical and digital presence, the show will showcase a trailer of what is to come at the organisation’s main event in 2021.
Alongside a purpose-built studio by Biotecture, the show will host #PlantedUnplugged, a three-part talks series filmed in real-time in Kings Cross from 18-20th September. Covering topics around repair and re-use, carbon capture and green architecture, the series will welcome a number of speakers including Sebastian Cox, Oliver Heath and Oksana Bondar.
Full details are listed here.
The Virtual Design Destination by Adorno
By bringing global curated collections to London virtually, this new design destination showcases the role technology will play in the design calendar going forward. Each piece created has been modelled three-dimensionally and set in a virtual environment which references the country they have hailed from. Each day virtual tours will be held to discover these new designs and engage visitors in an captivating digital experience.
The presentation, curated by digital design gallery Adorno, includes collections such as Trophy by Studíó Flétta, a selection of designs made from old trophies, and the “Ott / Another Paradigmatic Ceramic” collection by Yoon Seok-Hyeon, featuring ceramics glazed with a natural resin to make it easier to recycle designs back into the production cycle.
Each day, from the 12-20th September, the show will focus on two country collections. The full schedule is listed here.
These are just a snapshot of the events taking place and the full schedule of London Design Festival can be discovered here. Other events celebrating craft and design across the city include Peckham Design Trail, a new collection from emerging design brand Kam Ce Kam (on display at the showroom of lighting brand Tala), a new exhibition titled ‘One In One Out’ from Modern Art Hire, The Hothouse by Studio Weave (A Victorian glasshouse inspired installation) and Connected, a collaborative project between a number of designers exploring the ways they have adapted their working practices during lockdown.
There is also the upcoming London Craft Week to look forward to later in the month and, if you do manage to visit London in person, be sure to drop by the iconic Burlington Arcade to visit the Future Icons pop up (open throughout September and October) showcasing the work of 14 artists and makers, most of which has been created during lockdown. In a show of support for the freelance creative community, through the economic downturn 2020 is seeing, London Design Festival is also seeking to showcase the work of designers and artisans with the festival’s audiences through an online portal.
As we navigate our way through these difficult and challenging times, we know the power design has in reshaping the future ahead. And, thanks to these events, the tireless work of the creative community can continue to be enjoyed and witnessed first-hand, stimulating us all to take part in the conversation which can lead to true, purpose-driven, change.