Once again The Design Festival visited London transforming the capital city into a giant, mesmerizing exhibition space. All of the museums and galleries were involved; including city landmarks and public spaces.
As a part of The Design Festival London was divided into different design districts. One of the most interesting and unexpected destinations was in Kings Cross’ Creative Quarter, where the design junction was relocated. At Kings Cross a huge space with curated programme of design exhibitions, installations, retail experiences, events and workshops were created. Throughout the rest of the city there were giant landmarks installed, such as a giant sculpture called ‘The Smile’ by Alison Brooks.
During the festival one of our designers visited London Print Studio which is a small workshop, gallery and bookshop located in Ladbroke Grove. We were thrilled to discover the Studio featured a live presentation on how to make classic etching prints. Here the public could discover how to use a printing press, get a masterclass on preparing the paper and learn how much paint should be used on the metal plate.
The studio also contained the work of many local artists and exhibited a selection of the work from one of the most popular Polish lino-cuts artists, and head of Illustration at the Royal College of Art, Andrzej Klimowski. Our designer found it impossible to leave without buying some books!
Our next pit-stop was the first London Design Biennale, which was held in Somerset House. The main theme of the exhibition was ‘Utopia by Design’ and 37 countries had a chance to display their view on the subject.
The countries’ exhibits encompassed a huge range of pieces including colossal large-scale kinetic sculptures, immersive digital installations, culinary pop-ups, performances and VR renderings of the future.
One of the most interesting elements of the exhibition was a digital pen that you carried with you around the gallery, allowing visitors to capture their own exhibition experience. The touch pen collected data from each room that visitors explored, and after the event visitors could log on to a website and see their individual exhibition experience and even share it with friends.
The pen itself was part of the USA’s exhibit, which was a room consisting of a large touch screen linked to projectors. By using the digital pen you could change the wallpaper to various designs collected from other countries and also design your own customized wallpaper using the touch screen – these designs could be saved on the pen to be viewed later at home. The concept behind this was to illustrate how we create utopia within our own homes.
Some of the exhibits were more serious, such as Mexico’s plan for a futuristic border city based on modern ideas of urban planning. Some were quite quirky and comical – like this African installation comprising of comfortable seats using giant stuffed animals’ heads.
Our designer’s personal favourite exhibition was the Turkish entry which was a contemporary version of a ‘Wish Tree’ on which people attach notes of their wishes for the future. Rather than being a tree, the Turkish ‘Wish Machine’ required you to insert a wish into a plastic container that then travelled through a transparent vacuum tube system which whizzed through the gallery before being deposited in the unknown. You could chase your wish along these tubes, if you were quick enough!
The London Design Festival was a fantastical wonderland of design innovation, we wonder what the next one will hold…
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