1. 13 designers and artists contemplate the future of water
The Domestic Sea Collection by Unit Lab for Water at Copeland Gallery for London Design Festival
Mineralia by Fernando Laposse for Water at Copeland Gallery for London Design Festival
Fontanna by Ola Mirecka for Water at Copeland Gallery for London Design Festival
‘Water is so ubiquitous that it actually becomes invisible. We rarely focus on it as a material,’ says Mike Vanis, co-founder of Unit Lab, one of 13 practitioners who are posing new questions about one of the world’s most overlooked resources. The exhibition, Water, will explore concepts ranging from using AI technology to engage in political debate about climate change to imaginative scenarios on how human culture might adapt to future climates.
‘The scope of practitioners ranges from an engineer to a ceramicist and an artist,’ designer and participant Dean Brown tells LS:N Global. ‘Having such an open brief was an opportunity for the designers to make their own interpretation – whether that is technically or poetically, there is scope to explore.’
Water will be exhibited at the Copeland Gallery in the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye.
2. Kvadrat: My Canvas is inspired by Danish seascapes
Kvadrat: My Canvas by Judith Seng for London Design Festival
Danish textile company Kvadrat has invited 19 international designers to offer their interpretation of the upholstery textile Canvas 2, created earlier this year for the brand by Italian colour specialist Giulio Ridolfo. Inspired by the vistas around Danish seaside town Skagen, Canvas 2 encompasses hues ranging from dark to light and cool to warm.
Kvadrat’s My Canvas features emerging and established designers, originating from countries as diverse as Japan, Poland and Germany. A notable addition is Berlin-based design collective Zeitguised, which typically create visually arresting materials through computer-generated animation, but here enter the physical world to take the viewer on a journey of tactile discovery.
Located at Somerset House, the exhibit will form part of Design Frontiers, a group show highlighting the thought-provoking work of 30 international designers that are helping to transform the design world.
Kvadrat: My Canvas will be exhibited at Somerset House from 18 to 24 September.
3. Strange Telemetry offers new ways to experience pollution
Somerset House Studio residents, Strange Telemetry and Superflux are collaborating with artist Wesley Goatley to offer a new way of experiencing and understanding London’s air pollution problem. For the exhibition, Moving Mephitic Air, the artists have captured ambient data, transforming it into visual and auditory manifestations of air quality.
It has often been difficult to present big data in a meaningful way. In this vein, the interactive installation uses a hybrid of art, design and technology to explore the different ways in which people and machines experience the world.
Moving Mephitic Air will be exhibited at Somerset House as part of the Design Frontiers group exhibition from 18 to 24 September.
Moving Mephitic Air by Superflux and Strange Telemetry for London Design Festival
4. American design shines at London Design Fair
Arch Mirror by Bower for the USA Pavilion at London Design Fair
Collection by Form & Seek for the Dutch Pavillion at London Design Fair
Drape chair and shelf by Christopher Stuart for the USA Pavilion at London Design Fair
The London Design Fair will showcase the US as its guest country, a feature first introduced in 2016 to celebrate the Fair’s tenth anniversary. The US space has been curated by online design magazine Sight Unseen, spotlighting 13 of the most exciting designers and studios in the US and bringing them to the attention of a UK and European audience. Seattle designer John Hogan will present his sustainable glassware, while Steven Haulenbeek will show his elegant homeware pieces often created using experimental processes such as ice-cast bronze.
The Netherlands will also be participating for the first time as one of the Fair’s national pavilions with its Dutch Stuff exhibition. The space will be curated by well-known names such as design collective Form & Seek, minimalist design label Vij5 and collaborative design group Dutch Invertuals.
In its Harvest exhibition, Dutch Invertuals will challenge 10 of its designers to create speculative design solutions to future scenarios.
5. Mini’s micro-home focuses on recreating London’s spirit
Mini Living Urban Cabin by Mini and Sam Jacob Studio for London Design Festival
Mini has worked with architect Sam Jacob for the next version of its research project, Mini Living. Jacob’s Urban Cabin explores contemporary London life through a historical lens, with a shared kitchen paying homage to the city’s abundance of food markets and a micro-library stocked with classic literature from Dickens, Keats and Shakespeare, authors that often featured London prominently in their work.
By looking to the past and the present, Jacob seeks to address the future needs of the capital’s inhabitants. ‘In an increasingly generic urbanised world, we can use design to turn spaces into useful and significant places for the city,’ says Oke Hauser, creative lead of Mini Living.
Urban Cabin is part of London Design Festival’s Landmark Projects and will be installed in the courtyard of Oxo Tower Wharf.
6. Thought-starter: Can Design Weeks instigate real change?
In this period of sociopolitical unrest and environmental crisis, art director Hannah Robinson considers how Design Weeks can be used as a vehicle for real impact far beyond the design world.
Gone are the days when design festivals were frivolous and excessive, laden with unnecessary products with no function. The new generation of design practitioners are intent on change rather than celebrity.
From problem-solving for both digital and environmental eco-systems to provoking debate on the future of what it means to be human, London Design Festival will offer a week of creative thinking across nine design districts.
The Victoria and Albert Museum will be home to the festival’s largest thought-leadership programme, Global Design Forum. Issues that will be explored range from building a future economy to manufacturing processes that use brain scanning.
The week-long programme at this year’s LDF offers a platform for the minds that are shaping the future of design across the world. The meeting of technology, design, culture and commerce that it provides will hopefully not just offer inspiration for the coming year, but demonstrate the power of design thinking, and if we are lucky, offer a blueprint for our future.
For more about designers and businesses deciding what type of future they want to build, read our macrotrend The Dislocated World.
Puzzle Rug by Studio Proba at the USA Pavillion for London Design Fair