Top picks for London Design Festival 2010

London Design Festival 2010

In a week's time, the annual Design Festival would transform London into a mega design fair with over 200 events happening across the city. Believing in the power of creativity and the artistic value in good design, we have hand-picked 20 favourites (in order from the official print programme) below:

1. The Sphelix Installation by Johnny Hawkes in Covent Garden

"Standing nearly 3 metres high a white half Sphelix is situated next to the new Apple Store. The sculpture number 5 of an edition of 10 is made in GRP. The Sphelix® is a new global shape, the joining of a sphere and a helix, it spins ying yang, DNA and the life force, the joining of communities. Johnny Hawkes has been invited to show his work in many international & national exhibitions. An outsider artist, dropping out of art school, he started his studio in London in 1976 and is the creative and commercial force behind PW Ltd."

2. The AppLounge by Alexander Grünsteidl in 100 Wardour Street

The Applounge Logo

"The Applounge is a collaboration between Digital Wellbeing Labs, Method, and SpotSpotOn. It features a curated selection of well crafted mobile applications and services, sourced from creative agencies around the world, matched with accessories, and  fashion items to fit with different occasions and individual lifestyle requirements. Coffee is served during the day and cocktails at night. Alexander set up Digital Wellbeing Labs together with his partner Priya Prakash in 2005, to bridge the last mile between the producers and consumers of digital products and services."

3. ÖÖ: Was it a Dream? by Keskula in 94 Berwick Street

"ÖÖ, or 'night' in Estonian, is a pop-up gallery + concept store showcasing work by young avant-garde creatives from six Nordic countries - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It is a collaborative project by a community of fashion and product designers, photographers, film makers, artists and illustrators, whose work introduces dark and surreal aspects of Nordic aesthetics.The project is accompanied by event programme featuring musicians, DJs, film screenings and art performances. KESKULA is set up to connect new creative minds from the six countries. The long-term vision for KESKULA network is to set up a foundation to support young designers from Nordic countries and launch creative residencies in London and New York."

4. Outrace - the official festival installation in Trafalgar Square by Clemens Weisshaar & Reed Kram

"This year's spectacular Trafalgar Square installation allows the general public to take control of eight industrial robots on loan from Audi's production line. Visitors to the square, alongside the entire global web audience, will be able to book a slot to interact with the installation via the specially built website."

5. The Smalls Short Film Fest 2010 in 125 Charing Cross Road

"The Smalls launched in September 2006 in association with The London Design Festival and Creative Review. The showcase celebrated “Small Films for Small Screens”, through a display of short films made for the web, iPods and mobile phones.The interest in The Smalls, from industry and contributors, led to the launch of, an online showcase for the creative community, at the end of 2006. Since then there's been collaboration with a number of broadcast and media partners on other competitions, as well as having launched a monthly short film screening in New York called The Can."

6. Anti Design Festival initiated by Neville Brody 28 Redchurch Street

"The Anti Design Festival will attempt to unlock creative fires and ideas, exploring spaces hitherto deemed out-of-bounds by a purely commercial criteria. Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk. At multiple venues around Redchurch Street, the festival will incorporate exhibitions, installations, workshops, performances and talks in Art, Design, Product, Film, Sound, Fashion, Performance, Print and Interactive. Directed by Neville Brody, the world-renowned graphic designer, the festival will be curated by a select group of leading practitioners in various fields. These curators include Daniel Charny, Terry Jones, James Payne, Harry Malt, Stuart Semple and Brody himself. To date, contributors include Stefan Sagmeister, Jonathan Barnbrook, Yugo Nakamura, Yomi Ayeni and Mark Moore, as well as an open-submission route."

7. Emerge - the original graphic design graduate showcase curated by Dominic Lippa in multiple venues across east london

"This year you may well stumble across emerge without even realising. We'll be displaying special commissioned posters designed by a handpicked selection of 2010's graphic design graduates (chosen by Dominic Lippa) in underground stations around East London. To see the whole collection in one place, head along to The Cube London where the prints are available on sale. Besides there is an afternoon of information and advice in 'Bridge' for emergeing graduates on subjects such as setting yourself up as a freelancer, tax, IP and many more issues that may arise for recent graduates."

"Gastrotypographicalassemblage: The Designs of Lou Dorfsman presents the design history of one of the United States' most revered designers. In his forty years spent at the CBS television network, Dorfsman was responsible for every aspect of the advertising and corporate identity. Kemistry Gallery present a life's dedication to design excellence. Appealing to those with an interest in graphic design, advertising and broadcasting, the exhibition also serves to document the identity of the CBS network."

9. Kei Ito's special lighting by Museumaker at the Geffrye Museum

"The commission forms a centre-piece for the front gardens of the Museum, which are being refurbished in 2010. Kei Ito is designing an installation of lighting on either side of the main path. This will be extraordinary and beautiful: an ethereal parade of chairs and lamps, reflecting the Museum’s themes and inspired by the global cultural influences that have shaped English furniture, ornaments and textiles. Larger than life, they will be made from woven fibre optics and, from dusk, their glow will create a sense of ghostly magic on Autumn and Winter afternoons."

"Following on from last year’s success, Norwegian Prototypes returns with 14 Norwegian designers. This year the participants have all been asked to reflect on the size 55 x 40 x 23, a standard hand luggage size when travelling with budget airlines. The exhibition will present different solutions and approaches to this set format. Expect to see innovative approaches and a wide range of products all of which are easily transportable. As a self-initiated exhibition with little funding set up by the two designers, the team works around the limitations of a small budget and the help of all the participants. With the chosen theme it is able to transport the products at a minimum cost from Norway. This also reflects on current topics and issues such as ‘shipping air’, carbon footprint, packaging and the mare price of transport."

11. TENT London in Truman Brewery

"Now in its forth year in the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, Tent London showcases over 200 designers, manufacturers, design collectives and companies from more than 10 countries; presenting the cutting-edge contemporary interiors products and digital installations."

12. The Tramshed initiated by Luis de Oliveira of De la Espada at 32 Rivington Street

"The Tramshed, set to be the premier destination at this year’s London Design Festival, will feature 25 exclusive international design brands at this bold new venue. Initiated by De La Espada’s founding director Luis de Oliveira, and delivered by respected design-event experts Deborah Spencer and Alice Breed, this striking post-industrial venue will showcase the very best in high-end authentic design. 'The Tramshed Live’, curated by design writer and seminar/conference producer Aidan Walker, will run a series of thought-provoking design debates."

13. Skyroom at the Architecture Foundation

"Skyroom is a new rooftop venue for London. Sitting above the Architecture Foundation on Tooley Street, the installation provides a range of spaces for performances, meetings and relaxation. A central courtyard open to the sky frames the towers standing over London Bridge while a balcony cantilevered over the street offers breathtaking views of the Thames and the Tower of London beyond."

14. "Plain Place - John Pawson" in Design Museum

"Plain Space celebrates Pawson’s career from the early 1980s to date and includes a selection of landmark commissions including the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the new Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic and Calvin Klein’s iconic flagship store in New York, as well as current and future projects."

15. DROP by Paul Cocksedge at Southbank

"Cocksedge conceived ‘DROP’ as an outsize coin ‘which has fallen to Earth from a giant's palm’. Lightly buckled upon landing improbably upright. The giant coin is magnetic, encouraging passers-by to participate by affixing their spare pennies. At the end of the installation the public contributions will be counted and Barnardo’s corporate partners will turn every penny into one pound."

16. 'Framed' by Stuart Haygarth at the V&A Museum

"‘Framed’ uses off-cut pieces of picture-frame to bring this significant piece of the museum’s architecture to life, and to create a dramatic landscape through which visitors can walk. Creating magical and evocative stories through objects and architectural features is central to Haygarth’s work, and this installation is no exception."

17. 'Kinetic Light' by Michael Anastassiades at the V&A Museum

"Michael Anastassiades has designed a pendulum light for the Norfolk House Music Room at the V&A. Like a silent inverted metronome, the hanging arm of this bespoke installation holds a glass light ball which describes a perpetual rhythm. The mesmeric trajectory evokes a distant age when music sought to recreate the harmony of the spheres, and the interplay between elegance and hospitality was a delicate balance."

18. 100% Design in Earl's Court Exhibition Centre

"100% Design London features world-class interiors show 100% Design, innovative and sustainable architectural products event 100% Detail, cutting-edge materials exhibition 100% Materials and emerging talent showcase 100% Futures. Meet over 350 hand-picked exhibitors selected for their creativity and originality. From furniture to futuristic materials, emerging talent to building products, 100% Design London offers unrivalled bright ideas and visionary solutions for designers, architects, specifiers and buyers."

"This is the first UK solo show of the Japanese design studio Nendo. This two part exhibition features a new series of works that will be on view at the Saatchi Gallery. At the same time, an installation of archival works will be exhibited at Phillips de Pury, Howick Place."

20. Re: Public by University of the Arts London at Chelsea Futurespace

"This exhibition explores the increasing sophistication of public art, and the willingness of gallery artists to work with architects and engineers on permanent public projects. What effect does the move out of the artist's comfort zone, access to new materials and technologies, technical constraints, the change of scale ad the need to adapt and compromise have on both the artist, client and architect? What happens when an artist is commissioned to make a public work away from the privacy of the studio or the relative safe haven of a gallery; how does it affect the creative process and how does it affect the artist’s future work?"


Further Readings -
Official blog
Talking the Tramshed - interview with Luis de Oliverira
Interivew with Paul Cocksedge on his DROP installation

art december in london . part 3

David Chipperfield - Form Matters
Design Museum

Sir David Chipperfield's show is ending tomorrow. If you have not visited yet and enjoy contemporary architecture with a minimal poetic vocabulary, you should not missed the chance to have a look at the English master's impressive display of drawings, photos and models of his works.

Americas Cup Building at Valencia

This video is not part of the exhibits in the show, but it could show how the real building looks -
Model of Anchorage Museum at Alaska

Model display combined with John Morgan's illustration form the main focus in the show

The most impressive project is the Neues Museum in Berlin. Chipperfield has paid due respect to the historic significance of the building, and at the same time create a spatial departure from the past to enable visitors to have a renewed experience of the building. There is an area dedicated to the project -

Drawings are displayed which has documented every detail of the building, new & old construction

Facade language

Site photo

Scaled model

Internal view of the scaled model

Photo of realisation

Scaled model showing the brick construction

And in case you do not know, he is a londoner :)

Full photo set here


Less & More - the Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
Design Museum

'Timeless' seems to be a cliché for design appreciation. Take a look at Dieter Rams's selection of products exhibited in the show, I see nothing more than a dedication to the essence of function and simplicity in the design. Everything he has made for Braun or selected for the show, they look so 'relevant' still even they are produced some 50 years ago.

Dieter Ram's residence

Dieter Ram's residence

Dieter Ram's workshop

I think the reason why they look so 'relevant' is that the design has made it so intuitive you know what the product is for and how it works in your first look. There is no need to figure out where the operating buttons are or which button is for what function. And I guess this is what 'timeless design' means.

 Apart from the products, the exhibition also celebrates the propaganda of them. These posters strip out every possible graphical distraction such as slogans or logos, and give you the product itself as the only focus to appreciate its inner beauty.

This is the toaster in real featured in the poster above

A range of camcorders

Exhibition set

A radio

Full photo set here


Further readings -
Official website of David Chipperfield
Official page of Chipperfield's show at Design Museum
'Building Study - David Chipperfield Architects' Neues Museum, Berlin' by Ellis Woodman for bd magazine, 03.2009 (with video link)
Review from *wallpaper on David Chipperfield - Form Matters, 22.10.2009
'Neues Museum, Berlin' written by David Chipperfield Architects in Collaboration with Julian Harrap, photographed by Candida Höfer, published by Walther König. Available in
Official page of Dieter Ram's show at Design Museum
Wikipedia entry for Dieter Ram
Video clips on Dieter Ram in vimeo
Interview with Dieter Ram by, 10.10.2000

london design festival recap - part 2

further from part 1, here are the remaining highlights of the festival -

brick lane gallery by you.
This architectonic blind/partition by Rikako Iwamoto looks great in the front but not-that-appealing at the back with the connection threads to form the shape running everywhere


east gallery by you.
These matt aluminium mirrors by Daniel Rybakken are pretty sexy, especially it conceals any imperfrections on your face and make you look - mysteriously remote - from your true face. The shape also make it versatile - either wall-hung or stand-on-its-own

full photo set here


Tent London has remained relevant and maintained a healthy number of exhibitors this year despite the economic downtown (unlike 100% Design which looks empty once you walk out of the main hall). The variety of exhibitors has kept the show interesting, bringing in a considerable number of korean exhibitors (but their ideas are not that bright compared to their european counterparts in my opinion) as well as the portugal area (which I had missed totally due to no clear signage at the main entrance when I left - don't tell me to read the map, get better wayfinding next year!)

tent london by you.
Handsome solid wood furniture from London's own de la espada

tent london by you.
Tokyo Wonder by W0W at the digital section - this japanese establishment has the ability to transform ordinary elements into impressive super-cool silk-smooth motions

See the action by yourself -

'tokyo wonder' by W0W - strongly recommended to watch in HD

this is london || 26.09.2009 by you.
Horizon by Flynn Talbot - motion-sensitive colour-changing background/screen

tent london by you.
Minimal furniture by british hundreds tens units

tent london by you.
Face clock by japanese Yoshihiro Yoshida

tent london by you.
High chair at the Polish area

The clock clock by bastian bischoff & per emanuelson, one of the winners in the talent zone

full photo set here


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Design Museum, this night was arranged with live DJ and a few gimmick events. Those who has bought tickets could not only see the 3 shows currently running in the museum, but also took part in the events. Not very impressed with no free drinks - rather pay a few quids more for entry and at least get a free glass of champagne. But then, perhaps they aim at getting the number up instead of making everyone in happy...

super contemporary by you.
Logo of the Super Contemporary show

super contemporary by you.
One of the Bake-off entries

super contemporary by you.
VR demo

super contemporary by you.
Street light chandelier by Thomas Heatherwick - romantic and beautiful

suepr contemporary . timeline by you.
The timeline is a very good exhibit, dividing events from 1950 to 2009 into 4 main aspects - social-political on top, the built environment (architecture & interiors) the second, graphics & media publishing the third, and product design at the bottom.

super contemporary . timeline by you.
The launch issue of Dazed & Confused

super contemporary . timeline by you.
The beautiful bottle of Tyrant water

full photo set here

mariscal at design museum by you.

The other show is on Spanish designer Javier Mariscal. The creator of the Barcelona Olympics mascot, this show has demonstrated the talents of the master. The overall set arrangement is also better than the Super Contemporary show, probably due to the fact that all works are only from a single designer so it is more consistent in style.

full photo set here

remembering jan kaplicky by you.

The show next to Mariscal is dedicated to the passed-away architect of the Future Systems, Jan Kaplicky. His signature 'futuristic' touch on the works shown is also a symbol of the outlook of cityscape towards the 21st century. Now we have already entered the 'new' century, technology is evolving at an unprecedented speed, there are many possibilities lying ahead which await our exploration. Jan's neo-post-modernist style maybe more suitable to remain as a memory of the era that we dreamt about the future, not living in one.

remembering jan kaplicky by you.
National Library in Prague - can you imagine this would appear in the medieval Czech city?

full photo set here

Further reading -
official website of Mariscal's show
official website of Jan Kaplicky's show
Wikipedia's entry for Javier Mariscal
Official website of Future Systems