My official end to the London Design Festival was spent enjoying some personal hard work as part of the Brixton Design Trail team. For the last few months I have been exploring Brixton’s personality & creativity; interviewing the committee made up of creatives and business owners as well as the diverse line up of designers that made up this years trail.
As someone who loves process and seeing an idea from start to finish this was really rewarding; 20+ projects popped out of people’s imagination and then are realised with all the logistics that requires. As the rebel of LDF Brixton as a Design District works a little differently, rather than a corporate sponsor its supported by Brixton BID, Lambeth Council and our new resident partner in crime Squires. So here is a few of the projects I got to experience and some stories from the trail that I think were particularly special.
The first project to find a home in Windrush Square was this colourful camouflage from the Edible Bus Stop transform environments with creativity. They created a celebration of public seating and the role it plays in creating positive interaction and a sense of improved community. By applying a Razzle Dazzle pattern that was developed in WW1, drawing attention rather than hiding ships in water by disrupting its outline.
It’s one of many BDT projects which will outlast the festival itself, hoping to create a positive lasting impact on the area.
One of the largest and most striking installations of the trail was created by AWMA Studio, a four man team each specialising in their own creative discipline who came together for their first independent project. Inspired by the role played by the mosque in an islamic community; they flipped the traditional concept of a minaret giving a visual call for congregation. The internal experience of the minaret is enhanced by spatial geometry, whilst externally reflecting its ever changing context with mirrored slats. It continued to draw attention and a sense of gathering all week long.
Just off Windrush you will find a Victorian grade II listed building which is home to a studio filled with works by locally-based, internationally known artists and makers. Through the medium of paper with light, wood and other materials they created a group exhibition with a little magic that told wonderful stories. From magic carpet styled ceiling hangings from Zuzana Lalikova to Elli Popp presenting her vision of cosmic landscapes and interplanetary travel all in lights.
Another project that has had an immediate impact, the dilapidated station passageway got a clean up by TFL before at collective of artisans took over the shop spaces. From Japanese ceramics curator Terry Ellis to a fabric fishmongers by fashionable Gucas Morgan; it was like stepping in to another world of Otaku shops. These little kiosks up and down the road are a hot topic debate in Brixton but these pop-ups were a breath of fresh air and hopefully a look in to the future.
THE HEART SPACE
Our own hub for the trail was a last minute addition to the mix, a space that sat at the heart of Brixton on Atlantic Road. A blank canvas that allowed us to give a home to a few of our headliners and have a voice for BDT.
The first thing to catch your eye as you pass the entrance is this colourful archway from Bharat & Jean a local agency from Pop Brixton. They created a colourful pastiche of the local railway arches to reflect on the recent developments in the area.
Each ‘Love Stop’ was decorated with a beautiful mosaic heart made by the team of volunteers at the Art4Space studio in Stockwell. With a heavy link to the theme ‘Love is Power’ each stop came with a thought for your wellbeing and something special right from the heart.
Acting as a backdrop for the heart space our own Sarah from Rocketship Digital created this mural of well wishes using famous words from others to help spread the message of love for all during the festival and hopefully beyond.
You might had been noticing the theme of BDT appearing in the installations so far, so thought I’d clue you in now. Each design district usually picks a theme for their area sometimes a current trend or material but Brixton needed a more powerful message at its core. “Love is Power” was a simple desire, to allow the design from the festival to bring people closer together.
Crossing over the road in to Brixton Village market there was a host of design trail hints including these two.
One of my favourite projects from the trail was an artist returning to the line up with a new partner; Sam was joined by Toni to create one of the most detailed and thought through ideas of the festival. They created new flags to adorn the Village and Market Row which in themselves were beautiful but the true magic of the piece was in the meaning. They wanted to find words that couldn’t be translated in to English to express the diverse voices and languages used on Brixton’s streets, not a simple task to research. Getting advice from the traders themselves and matching flags locations to outside shops from that nation and taking a series of film portraits to really tell their story.
Found inside Champagne + Fromage these exotic lighting features were the brainchild of Lottie from Coldharbourlights. Made from bicycle wheel rims from Brixton Cycles lovingly repurposed; with lots of opulent feather trimmings they are given a new lease of life. Drawing from the old and the new to create some moulin rouge chic, generating some love along the way.
Not the first event I went to in Brixton but the first you get to see in the new Squire & Partners office space. A very special partner of BDT offered their shiny basement space to a very special Crafty Fox Market.
Sinead was joined by Emy from BRIXI to create a weekend event that brought all the fun of the fair, to this interactive market showcases that included the finest designers, artists, free-thinkers and makers from their combined vast creative armoury. The normally sleek reception was filled with circus themed art works and activities including dress up hats & palm readings; then downstairs was the normally high quality maker stalls.
There was even more! Lots of colourful offerings all open to the public and visible from the streets of Brixton. More installations that you can continue to enjoy like the mural on Pope’s Road, a selection of paper trail artworks and our very iconic second flash crossing at Windrush Square.
I wasn’t kidding there was even more: a carnival trail, open studios, a fashion catwalk, public seating talks….. find the full list at www.brixtondesigntrail.com
This post includes links for everyone I mention so make sure to show them some love: follow them, research their process, find out what they are working on next. So many of what BDT offers is local talent and is truly a representation of the area not just imported pop-ups for the wow factor.
Some of the photos are my own but most of the best ones were taken by Luke Forsythe the official BDT photographer and others from the social channels of the designers where I wanted a detail or two. Some pieces were hard to capture, the vibe of the neighbourhood is really something you have got to experience for yourself so make sure to put Brixton in your London Design Festival plans 2018. Or even better come and see us before that and help us celebrate the creativity of Brixton.