My guide to London Design Festival

As an interior design studio, we attend many trade shows and design forums across the UK, but out of all of them, I must say that one of the ones I anticipate most is London Design Festival. It welcomes those who work within the world of design as much as those who do not – it is for those curious about design, who wish to learn more and to celebrate creative practice.

This year marks the 16th edition of the festival. It runs from 15th-23rd September with a huge amount of events taking place across the capital. There are 11 different design districts to visit (sections of London each with an alternative design theme and programme of events), five destination tradeshows (larger shows typically all under one roof) and four design routes (smaller areas of design within the capital). For those new to London Design Festival or are seeking a shortlist of areas to visit, below I share some of the events, exhibitions, installations and talks that I would highly recommend attending this year.

Design Destination: Decorex

Decorex is a show for those with an interest in luxury interior design, uniting renowned designers, artists and creative minds, and is the opening event of London Design Festival (16-19th September). Located on the outskirts of London in the direction of beautiful Kew Gardens, Decorex is held at the stately Syon Park – a location very much suited to the event’s character. I adore visiting the show to simply take in the building’s exquisite presence.

This year’s theme is called Blank Canvas. It will undoubtedly be beguiling to see those exhibiting represent design’s ability to transform an empty space. I do very much enjoy walking through the show discovering up-and-coming makers as well as reacquainting myself with some of my most cherished textile designers, fabric companies and lighting specialists.

Look out also for an exhibition called Future Heritage where Decorex curates some of Britain’s most anticipated and emerging craftspeople.

Design District: Pimlico Road

This area of London is a real design gem. I spend a lot of time here seeing suppliers and gathering inspiration. Belgravia is home to an abundance of creative studios and furnishings experts. This area of London has a non-disputed reputation for interior design, art, antiques and fine furniture making, and during LDF, there will be various talks and demonstrations taking place throughout the entire district. Rose Uniacke, LINLEY and Soane Britain are but three examples of places to stop by and explore. Luxury furniture specialists Jamb will also be unveiling new additions to its collection of handmade furniture, reproduction lighting and antique mantles.

On Monday 17th September at Robert Kime’s Ebury Street store, there will be a live Q&A with himself and Jasper Conran with a drinks reception beginning at 5pm and the talk at 7pm. Also on 17th September at LINLEY, there will be a marquetry workshop and live demonstration from 6.30-8pm with their master craftsman.

On Thursday 20th September, consider visiting Poggenpohl Chelsea for a cookery demonstration on one of its divine German Poggenpohl kitchens using the latest Miele appliances.

Being so close to Sloane Square, it is rather well placed for a spot of shopping and supper on the King’s Road afterwards. There is also a special district late night on Monday 17th September where many of the design boutiques will remain open for the festival.

Design Destination: Focus/18

From 16th-21st September, the second tradeshow destination that I suggest visiting is Focus/18 in Chelsea Harbour. Much like Decorex, it has earned itself a commendable reputation for showcasing world class design talent, however the forum is much more dynamic with a focus on immersive design experiences and installations.

This year, the industry is excited for the exclusive commission of international artist Moritz Waldemeyer who will be using light and movement to create an emotive installation on the ‘journey of colour’, which sounds much too intriguing to miss!

I have also been told of the ‘freedom of creativity’ installation which will feature bespoke swirling butterflies beneath the Centre Dome. Another expression of creativity and exercise of pattern and colour not to be forgotten either.

V&A Projects

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London’s Brompton district is somewhere that you may be able to visit at any point of the year, but there is such energy when you spend time here during London Design Festival. It is regarded as being the main ‘hub’ for the festival, and this year it celebrates ten years of having this accolade, which means the programme of tours and workshops is ever richer.

Some require booking in advance, though many are free to attend and you can arrive on the day and choose which you wish to view. The Memory & Light display, curated by Clare Farrow, presents a fusion between music and design which is rumoured to be immensely enchanting.

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