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The London Design Festival reflected a year of innovation and energy
Oct 13, 2009

The seventh London Design Festival ran from 19 – 27 September hosted 215 commissioned installations, exhibitions and shows plus over 150 events, launches, private views and parties. “Despite the economic climate the Festival was a great success. There was a buzz and energy we haven’t seen before and the design world rose to the occasion full of new ideas,” said Ben Evans, the Festival’s Director. The Victoria & Albert Museum provided a very fitting hub this year, which hosted a number of high profile installations, FT Talks and the Design Embassy – which proved to be a very popular place for designers and manufacturers to meet up. ‘In Praise of Shadows’ showcased work by European designers who made creative use of the new energy efficient lighting in beautiful and atmospheric ways. The tunnel entrance to the museum was transformed by Arts Co, who created a beguiling inner wall made of reclaimed materials, including the glowing metallic inner lining of tea packaging. In the garden of the V&A two magnificent chair arches, one in a rainbow of colour, was made from Ercol chairs and designed by Martino Gamper (sponsored by Wallpaper*) and Pentagram mounted a poster exhibition featuring 20 witty and thought provoking posters representing London. Design tours around the museum, led by key London designers, proved a popular, as did the Brompton Bicycle tours, which encouraged energetic design enthusiasts to pedal round the many design events and outlets in the Brompton Design district. And for those in need of respite, the Wrong/Wood benches, made from American Tulipwood, offered unusual, and site specific seating in the four corners of the V&A main entrance. The Southbank Centre hosted two remarkable installations, commissioned by the London Design Festival for its Size + Matter initiative, caught the eye of many a visitor. Shigeru Ban’s 23m high ‘Paper Tower’ (sponsored by Sonoco), made from cardboard tubes is the highest tower of its kind in the world, and Marc Newson’s ‘Supercell’ (sponsored by ArcelorMitall), an enamelled metal structure resembling a hollow mushroom provoked interested viewers. The major fairs which take place during the London Design Festival boasted record crowds. 100% Design gained approval for its new design input by JAM and Designersblock took over an area of its own at Earls Court. The Brick Lane area was awash with new talent and the Design Museum’s continuing show, ‘Super Contemporary’ celebrated decades of British design. One of the big ‘hits’ of this year’s Festival was The Dock, an emporium of creative talent instigated by Tom Dixon at his new space in Ladbroke Grove. Floating teacups on the still waters of the canal outside the space charged the location with surreal style. Parties were a strong feature of this year’s festival which kicked off at City Hall where Mayor Boris Johnson officially opened the Festival and gave a rousing speech which celebrated London’s role as the creative capital of the world – and his role in it. The London Design Festival has enjoyed the support of the Mayor’s office and the LDA from its inception in 2003. Partner parties abounded all week but the hottest ticket was without doubt the main London Design Festival party at the V&A which was attended by 1200 opinion formers and creative leaders and was sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and Brockmans Gin. On a fine evening, the interior courtyard was bejewelled with bright colours and guests mingled throughout the galleries. Many were delighted to see the London Design Festival as a champion for the creative industries, from graphics to digital to product, especially in the face of the current economic conditions. Sir John Sorrell, Chairman of the London Design Festival said, “Design is a powerful business tool and with many believing that the creative industries will play a key role in leading Britain out of recession, the importance of the Festival is greater than ever before in highlighting how design can help business. “ The London Design Festival 2010 will run from 18 – 26 September and the London Design Festival team intends to build on the success of this year and create an equally memorable event.

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