Installations, city trails, visionary debates and a new digital guide: what to expect from the 21st edition from 16 to 24 September

The London Design Festival is about to occupy, for the 21st time, the British capital: for 9 days, from 16 to 24 September, London will be dressed in lights, colors and sounds designed to tell the history, present and future of design.

London uses its Festival to celebrate its past glories, updating them (there will be high tech light installations, designed to illustrate the work of Sir Christopher and a discovery trail of the King's Road and Chelsea over the years 60 and 70). And it opens its numerous showrooms and exhibition spaces, mobilizing 13 Design Districts to tell the best of the status quo of the international creative and productive industry. While at the V&A it stages the Global Design Forum to investigate the role of design in facing the challenges of tomorrow.

Global Design Forum at the V&A for the London Design Festival 2023

Inside the historic museum, which has always been at the center of the London Design Festival, speakers will arrive from all over the world (read the program here ) who will discuss themes such as speculative and transdisciplinary design, the sustainability of materials, the transition from product to service design in view of circular development, the use of AI and the role that the project can have in developing solutions that allow us to adapt to the extreme landscape and climate changes that await us.

The installations at the V&A

As usual, the museum will also liven up with site specific projects created by international designers, this year with a focus on our relationship with materials.

There will be emerging designers, like Andu Masebo, who tells the story of the life of a wrecked car through a series of objects inspired by the stories of its owners. And a Flower Shrine, decorated with 50 thousand washi paper flowers handmade by artisans from Gufu Prefecture in Japan. Palestinian architect, artist and artist Dima Srouji, V&A Jameel Fellow, will present objects and films that reframe the history of glass in Greater Syria and Palestine. While the Canadian artist of British origin Nirbhai (Nep) Singh Sidhu with the British arts organization Without Shape Without Form presents Unstruck Melody : tapestry, sculpture and a short film that creates moments of self-discovery through contemporary Sikh teachings.

There will be no shortage of technology and social commentary with Maya: The Birth of a Superhero, an immersive VR installation by Poulomi Basu and CJ Clarke which tells the story of a girl who transforms into a superhero whose powers derive from menstruation. A work denouncing menstrual exile and violence against women in South Asia.

Wren 300 – landmark projects

The three hundredth anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren is an opportunity to tell the general public the story of the great architect, author of the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire of 1666 as well as the iconic Saint Paul's Cathedral.

The London Design Festival chooses to do so with two installations by contemporary authors which, instead of the usual historical-didactic exhibition, construct experiences capable of immersing visitors in the world of Sir Christopher Wren and allowing them to grasp the its meaning and historical significance.

Aura by Pablo Valbuena

The first installation of Wren 300 is Aura, by Pablo Valbuena. It is a live installation that transforms the sounds of the cathedral into a pulsating line of light projected on an architectural scale.

With a performance, in fact co-created by the public and the building - in fact a physical materialization of ambient sounds -, Pablo Valbuena talks about the very strong bond that Wren managed to create between the architecture and those who lived in it.

Halo by Studio Waldemeyer

St Stephen Walbrook is the site that hosts the landmark installation by Studio Waldemeyer. Here, a conical pendulum will trace a celestial path around Henry Moore's famous altar, which evokes planetary motions, creating an ethereal halo. While slow color transitions on the large dome, inspired by natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights, will amplify the meditative aura of the space.

The installations in other parts of the city

The Festival Commissions and Special Projects, commissioned by the London Design Festival, will occupy The Strand, Canary Wharf and Shoreditch respectively.

The Spirit of Place at The Strand

Simone Brewster in collaboration with Amorim will present Spirit of Place on The Strand, an installation of 5 large sculptural vases. It is a metaphorical representation of a cork forest in Herdade de Rio Frio, Portugal to tell how the sustainable future of the forest has been designed through 4 sustainable strategies.

Mandala Lab at the Rubin Museum in Canary Wharf

Instead, the Mandala Lab of the Rubin Museum in Canary Wharf is inspired by Buddhist principles, a structure that contains a metaphorical plan to be faced through 5 playful experiences that guide us along an inner journey focused on self-awareness and the awareness of others.

Shoreditch Electric Light Station

Award-winning artist Morag Myerscough, in collaboration with MINI, has created an immersive installation at the Shoreditch Electric Light Station, a journey that brings insight into the brand's strategy for developing sustainable urban living.

Space for young people: the Launch Pad

England believes strongly in the power of its creative industry which is growing at almost double the speed of other economic sectors and which, in the last ten years, has generated a gross added value (i.e. net of direct taxes) of £108 billion.

It is no coincidence that one of the objectives of the Festival, co-founded by Ben Evans since 2003 and still directed by him, has always been attracting young talents within the UK design eco-system. Which, on the one hand, boasts very high-level universities, on the other hand registers less and less interest in issues relating to the project among younger pupils (those preparing for GCSE and A Levels exams, aged between 16 and 18).

To give ever more visibility to young talents, on the occasion of this London Design Festival 2023, Launch Pad is born, a new exhibition format specifically designed for emerging talents.

The London Design Festival for everyone: Daydreaming on the King's Road

Opening up to a wider audience than that traditionally attracted by design themes is always a challenge for those who organize a design week.
This year, leveraging the territory and its mythical culture, the London Design Festival offers a City Trail in Kings Road and Chelsea curated by Anna Stewart and Tetsuo Mukai.

Daydreaming on the King's Road will be an itinerary-journey through the most iconic places in London to discover the work of those who created timeless works of music, fashion and design here. Like Vivienne Westwood, Mick Jagger, Terence Conran, the Beatles.