HAPPENINGText: Sayaka Hirakawa, Simon Borkin

The London Design Festival, now in its sixth year, is one of Europe’s biggest design events. Featuring a wide range of crafts, architectures, furniture, products, graphic, fashion and even fine art. With over 150 events of all that, you should probably find something for yourself. Let’s pop onto a red bus and start the little journey around the new design city that has arrived in London.

London Design Festival 2008

First, I visited Somerset House on the Strand. Embankment Galleries was just opened this year at the South side of this elegantly huge building with a beautiful fountain courtyard. “Wouldn’t be nice,,,,” was their second exhibition. As the title describes, this exhibition questions the possibilities of design and the fractious relationship it shares with art.

Flushing red welcomes you to China Five Stars by Alicia Framis. For this project she asked fifteen fashion designers to design garments based on the Chinese flag. Unless you are a celebrity or a millionaire, there must be some clothes with MADE IN CHINA hung in your closet. Even though we don’t know much about the women and children working in the sweat shops, in front of the red riders jacket, architectural shaped shift dress, I was thinking about some of the stories behind the fashion.

London Design Festival 2008

A shelf within the frame of a chair, a huge chest made with lots of different size drawers. It seems like all the furniture is reconstructed from older pieces. I do remember this style. It’s Martino Gamper himself who had a exhibition “100 chairs in 100 days” at the Design Museum last year. Those unique seats recombined from existing chairs were outstanding and this time he mixed all kind of furniture pieces. Eco design is popular everywhere nowadays but in terms of the good design and originality, we have a winner here.

London Design Festival 2008

Not only are there art events and exhibitions but also interior shop and café/bars for this festival. Caravan which is a select shop with good taste of interior and fashion items just launched in Shoreditch. Opting for flower power on this occasion, they showcase amazing floral inspired designs including hand – tufted wool rugs by Parisian artist Nathalie Lete and hand printed work by wallpaper designer Deborah Bowness. The very unique metal rose bouquet fits perfectly in this winter decollation.

London Design Festival 2008

Tent London is up and coming middle size design show held in Brick Lane. Truman buildings, the former brewery, is their venue. At the area called Circa, this is the one for vintage design furniture. Iconic designs like Bubble chairs and Eames designs must be nostalgic items for a certain generation.

London Design Festival 2008

Content area is on the other hand contemporary design by independent designers. I was attracted the work of a Korean designer Lee Jang Sub. Simple square lights made of rice paper and wood. When turned on, a map of a city magically appears. Moscow, Rome, Seoul, Paris, all places Jang Sub visits. His partner Song Bong Kyu has also designed an interesting light. Thin Lightning tubes in a plastic bag. “If you buy any lights at a shop, they will give you a bag for it. So I made a light already in a bag.” It can be a single use or multiple as shown.

It was already night when I got out of the Tent. It was like just after watching a good film as I felt surprise, impression and a bit of nostalgia. But for the new designers on their way home, it is already starting the design festival 2009 inside their head.

London Design Festival 2008
Date: September 13th – 23rd, 2008
Place: London, UK

Text: Sayaka Hirakawa, Simon Borkin
Photos: Sayaka Hirakawa

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