London Design Festival 2016

Posted on September 23, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Elytra Filament Pavilion

Elytra Filament Pavilion

'Elytra Filament Pavilion' by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer.

 

What is going to happen to the UK in the future? It is hard to tell. As a multicultural mega city, how will London cope with the aftermath of Brexit? And what can London's design community contribute in order to reduce the negative impact triggered by this decision? Maybe it is too early to say, but I think there is an urgency for designers to explore this topic and try to solve the possible scenarios that are likely to occur.

I have been visiting the London Design Festival for years, and I felt that the festival has lost its spark in the last few years. Aside from being overly commercial, it has become rather superficial and dull. This year, there had been overall improvements, but it still felt like an event aimed at the industry rather than the general public. Perhaps the turbulent times ahead will ignite more creativity and debate; though in the meantime, the new Design Biennale was a welcome addition to the festival.

 

The Green Room   Liquid Marble

landscape within

Top left: 'The Green Room' by London design studio Glithero; Top right: 'Liquid Marble' by Mathieu Lehanneur; Bottom: 'Landscape within' by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta

 

As usual at the V & A museum, there were temporary design (or art) installations scattered around the maze-like building. The most frustrating part was to navigate around the building and locate these installations. For those who managed to locate them all deserved prizes for their skills and patience.

One of the pieces that stood out for me was 'Landscape within' located in the foyer (though not included on the map). The fascinating digestive machine was created by London based interdisciplinary art and design studio BurtonNitta, supported by The Wellcome Trust and researchers from University of Edinburgh.

I spoke to designer Michael Burton about their exploration into our gut system. The digestive machine is designed to filter out the impact of heavy metals on our health due to increasing food contamination on our planet. This machine uses engineered bacteria to separate food from contaminating heavy-metals, resulting in safe consumption and nano-sized metals that are a valuable resource. Its intriguing construction of a tube within a tube, mirrors our own body plan, and it certainly attracted much attention from passerby.

 

Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design exhibition

 

In the nearby China gallery, a thought-provoking exhibition 'Unidentified Acts of Design' sought out instances of design intelligence in Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta outside of the design studio. The research project examined how design managed to evolve unexpectedly in a region which has been named the factory of the world. The landscape of the Chinese design scene is changing rapidly, soon or later, we may have to alter our prejudices on the term 'Made in China'.

 

When the Pike Sang, the Birds Were Still   designer souvenir  Silk leaf by Julian Melchiorri

Northern Lights

gardens by the bay  gardens by the bay

Top left: 'When the Pike Sang, the Birds Were Still' by Pauliina Pöllänen; Top middle: Designer souvenirs pop-up shop; Top right: 'Silk leaf' by Julian Melchiorri; Middle: 'Northern Lights' by V&A Museum of Design Dundee; Bottom: 'Mind over matter: contemporary British engineering exhibition'

 

silver speaks

waves by Nan Nan Liu  Stuart Cairns' ‘To Make a Thing’

Junko Mori

Juxtapose cups by Cara Murphy   Rajesh Gogna's Retro-ism Ice Tea for One

Top: 'Silver speaks' exhibition; 2nd row left: 'Waves' by Nan Nan Liu; 2nd row right: ‘To Make a Thing’ by Stuart Cairns; 3rd row: Stunning silver works by Japanese artist Junko Mori Bottom left: 'Juxtapose' cups by Cara Murphy; Bottom right: 'Retro-ism Ice Tea for One' by Rajesh Gogna

 

Upstairs in the silver gallery, I joined a curator's talk on the 'Silver speaks' exhibition, and learned more about contemporary silversmithing and the ideas behind the beautiful pieces. Perhaps the pieces are not all functional, but the exquisite work reflects high-level of skills, techniques and concepts that can be viewed as art pieces.

 

100% design 2016

100% design at Olympia

 

Despite being one of the largest and longest-running trade shows at the festival, I honestly think that 100% design needs to re-evaluate its direction because I thought it was the most uninspiring show at the festival. Compare to about 10 years ago, the show has somehow deteriorated over the past decade (partly due to the change in management).

The show used to promote design innovation, diversity and international young talents, but now the focus has switched to showcasing kitchen and bathroom designs by big commercial brands. During my visit, the huge venue was very quiet, and I left within the hour because I found the show rather 'soulless'.

The two other major trade shows, Design Junction and London Design Fair (a new name for Tent) have made some significant changes and improvements this year, so it's time for the team behind 100% design to step back and focus on making the show exciting again.

 

Almira sadar  img_8299-min

img_8294-min  img_8302-min

Nanjing Jinhe art packaging   Log Stack Cabinet by Byron & Gomez

Top left: Almira Sadar; Top right: Handcrafted wall covering by Anne Kyyro Quinn; 2nd left: Nanjing Creative Design Center; 2nd right: AteljeMali; Bottom left: 'Mountain Lake City & Forest' by Nanjing Creative Design Center; Bottom right: Log Stack Cabinet by Byron & Gomez 

 

 


This post was posted in London, Exhibitions, British designs, Business, Trade fairs, Chinese design, Design festivals & shows, Contemporary craft, Design and was tagged with London, art and design exhibitions, Trade fair, British design, chinese design, London Design Festival, V & A Msueum

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