London Design Festival

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London Design Festival logo

The London Design Festival was established in 2003 as an annual event to celebrate and promote as the creative capital of the world and gateway to the UK’s world class design community. The Festival acts as a platform for partner organisations drawn from across the design community to stage the UK's biggest annual design event. The Festival also commissions its own projects.

The Festival runs for nine days in September. Festival audiences are significant, with an estimated audience of over 350,000 people in 2012, from over 60 countries with a wider audience of over 1m people coming into contact with the major public commissions in 2012. The Festival had a programme of 304 projects and events staged by 295 partner organisations including media partners. The Festival also attracts substantial press coverage, with 1,969 articles about the Festival appearing worldwide.[citation needed]

The London Design Festival produces a Guide every year, containing information about activity. This is distributed across London in September. Many of the events at the design festival are free to attend.

London Design Festival at the V&A[edit]

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'In Praise of Shadows' at the V&A

Since 2009, the London Design Festival has taken up residence within the Victoria and Albert museum. Annually, the V&A sets aside the newly opened Sackler Centre and other areas of the museum for Festival events, shows, talks and installations. In 2012, audiences at the V&A totaled 111,538 – which is the highest ten-day figure recorded in the museum’s history. Exhibits have included:

  • 'Textile Field', a giant piece of furniture installed in the museum's Raphael Courts, designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, 2011.
  • 'Timber Wave', a temporary timber entrance to the V&A designed by Amanda Levete's company AL_A, 2011.
  • 'In Praise of Shadows' – an exhibition organised by EUNIC (the network of European Cultural Centres) with the support of the European Commission to mark the advent of the EU directive to phase out low-efficiency light bulbs by 2012, 2009.
  • The Wallpaper* Chair Arch – an outdoor installation reviving a Victorian tradition. In honour of Britain’s creative industries Wallpaper* commissioned a contemporary arch from designer, Martino Gamper, using Ercol chairs.

London Design Festival Landmark Projects[edit]

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Shigeru Ban's 'Paper Tower', a London Design Festival Landmark Project

Since 2007, the London Design Festival has been commissioning leading designers and architects to create interventions in London's public spaces during the Festival, often pairing the designers with manufacturers who are exploring new materials or processes. Locations for these installations have included Trafalgar Square, the Southbank Centre, the V&A, Somerset House, Covent Garden and St Paul's Cathedral.

2007 - "Urban Nebula", Zaha Hadid; "Prototile", Amanda Levete
2008 - "Sclera", David Adjaye; "Portrait," Fredrickson Stallard
2009 - "Supercell", Marc Newson; "Paper Tower", Shigeru Ban; "Tournament", Jaime Hayón
2010 - "Framed", Stuart Haygarth; "Drop", Paul Cocksedge; "Outrace", Kram/Weisshaar; "Blow & Roll", Oskar Zieta; "Vermiculated Ashlar", Max Lamb
2011 - "Perspectives", John Pawson; "Textile Field", Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; "Two Lines", "David Chipperfield"; "Timber Wave", AL_A
2012 - "BE OPEN Sound Portal", BE OPEN Foundation; "Bench Years", Various Designers; "Prism", Keiichi Matsuda; "Mimicry Chairs", Nendo

The London Design Medal[edit]

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Sir Paul Smith receiving the 2009 London Design Medal

The London Design Medal, awarded during the Festival, celebrates individuals that make outstanding contributions to the world through their achievements and influence on contemporary design.

The medal is designed by Domenic Lippa of Pentagram. Pentagram are also responsible for all London Design Festival branding. Thomas Fattorini Ltd, a long established British medal manufacturer based in the West Midlands, produce the double-sided medal which is 75mm in diameter, made from Sterling Silver with a gold plate finish.


2007 – Zaha Hadid
2008 – Marc Newson
2009 – Sir Paul Smith
2010 – Thomas Heatherwick
2011 - Ron Arad; Lifetime Achievement Award, Vidal Sassoon
2012 - Sir Terence Conran Lifetime Achievement Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg Emerging Talent Jane ni Dhulchaointigh Entrepreneur El Ultimo Grito, run by Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado London Design Medal

London Design Festival team[edit]

Sir John Sorrell CBE, Chairman
Ben Evans, Director

Former members of the London Design Festival team[edit]

Max Fraser, Deputy Director

See also[edit]

External links[edit]