I love September; its means one thing usually for me the London Design Festival but luckily this year it means two great things, LDF and the almost month long London Design Biennale. Returning to Somerset House with 40 countries, cities and territories sharing how design influences (and improves) ever aspect of modern existence.
In response to the theme Emotional States, participants from six continents have created engaging and interactive design installations that challenge, education, inspire, surprise, delight, confuse ... with the whole site being taken over by one show there is something that speaks to everyone.
To simplify if you've never been to anything like it, it's the Eurovision of design; each are trying to get your attention, make a political/economic statement, tug at your heart strings, or just tell a story about themselves. The last Biennale in 2016 showed the potential in the idea this year I think has many more thought through ideas, less conceptual and more visually pleasing but still in need of a little explaining to truly appreciate. There are also a couple of complete weirdo idea that just freaked me out but that's what keeps the visit exciting.
I turned up with the sun, bright and early for the press breakfast; don't worry I didn't see anything you can't see. Just beat the crowds the day before it opened so I could get you these pictures to enjoy. Plus you are getting this post now instead of at the end of the show with no time to go. I was also lucky to be punching above my weight when it came to companions to explore with; Sarah (@girlabouthouse) Russell (@2lgstudio) Athina (@topologyinteriors) Mark (@forwardfeatures) all award wining more than bloggers who gave great perspectives and laughs on our long morning adventure.
Also thanks always for the invite Emma (@emmajanepalin) who's part of the hard working team behind LDB and the rest of LDF this year.
So finally time for some countries I think; going to share with you just my top 10 personal favourites so not give too much away. Starting with...
THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST
Design Team < TRImarchi Collective
The Wichi people are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Argentina, who are experts in weaving these complex type of geometric shapes. Visitors walkthrough a bending walkway that is a textural education on not just the process or the makers but the region as well. Creating its own landscape with soft colour shades and barriers to navigate, the 'forest' isn't a homage to ancestral design but an ongoing celebration of self-sustainability whilst giving a glimpse at the cultures hidden potential.
Designer < Flynn Talbot>
You might know how much I like a good light show, so when I was told about the curtained dark room in the basement with a rainbow inside we left it till last. Flynn Talbot returns to London with a wave of overwhelming pride; after a decade of bitter debate his native country became the 26th country to legalise gay marriage. Australia has opened its up to a new notion of what love is and Flynn wanted to visualise that using light & the global symbol of love, the pride rainbow. 150 strands of fibre optic cable form a freestanding circular structure perfectly fit under the arches, reflecting on the ceiling, the floors ... surrounding you in light.
PURE GOLD - UPCYCLING AND ITS EMOTIONAL TOUCH
Curators < Volker Albus, Axel Kufus, Lapatsch/Unger >
This curation of designers from Germany have highlighted the uses waste products can still have, transforming trash via upcycling it in to new original items of furniture. They are not aiming for mass production ideas but showing the connection we have to familiar materials and how they can still be used to create quality items with their own characters/purpose. Do you think this style and process is still niche? Or is it becoming more mainstream?
Designer < Nassia Inglessis, Studio INI>
This one is hard to miss as it sits centre stage in the courtyard, the lovely Nassia has produced a very engaging representation of Disobedience. A term at the centre of greek mythology and often used to describe the temperament of the nation, this simple wall takes on a whole new life when stepped in to. The slim opening flexes and morphs to respond to movement, transforming from a stationery object to a slightly daunting passage to transverse. The undulating structure is made up of a steal skeleton and recycled plastic tessellating bricks giving restricted views from outside and within. There is going to be a line for this one, if possible wear flats if like me you have the balance of a slightly drunk faun.
Design Team < Olivero Bland Studio in Collaboration with Zyle
Guatemala's installation tells a fantastic story of Pintando Santa Catarina Palopo - an initiative that is trying to transform an entire town through design. The community is going to paint the towns 800 houses using patterns inspired by local textiles in an effort to boost tourism with a very unique landscape. The hopes is to build connections, both locally and internationally, I am hoping for an immediate positive impact. The whole installation takes the whole idea to new heights literally floating off the floor, hinting at the dreamlike feeling of hope the project has for the region.
Design Team < Asaf Hanuka, Nelly Agassi, Philip Thomanek, Nadav Barkan, Gali Cnaani, Dekel Bobrov, Pini Leibovich, David Amar, Danielle Weinberg, Maya Arazi, Rami Tareef, Alon Meron
Israel bumps convention but turning up to the show without their installation. Instead they brought everything they would need to make one and are providing live creation during the show. With a selection of inspirational found objects from home the multi-disciplinary team will expose the creative process whilst making a statement to the hectic fragility to an ever changing and unsure environment. You have to work fast, improvise, react, sometimes focusing on a small detail or abandoning an idea all together. No idea what you'll see when you visit.