Highlights from this year’s festival

London Design!

By Camilla Ginevra Bo'

London Design Festival is in full swing, and the cityscape is currently dotted with nearly too-many-to-count design exhibitions and interventions. Have no fear, though; below, Camilla Ginevra Bo’ shares her top picks for getting the most out of this annual design celebration.

For starters, when visiting any festival, I believe that it is important to take some time between shows, to think about what you have seen and what is coming next.

So, let’s begin by taking a seat (or lying down, as you prefer) in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s courtyard, where Mexican architect Frida Escobedo has installed a series of multipurpose mirrored platforms called you know, you cannot see yourself so well as by reflection. The design references Tenochtitlán, an ancient Aztec city built over a lake (the title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar), and the effect is truly lovely. Be sure to also have a look at the reflective surfaces from the terrace above!

The V&A hosts several fair standouts this year (once again). Moving inside, take in Kim Thomé’s prismatic, 18-meter-tall Zotem installation in the museum’s grand entrance. It’s a lovely optical illusion made in collaboration with Swarovski that features over 600 bespoke crystals. Meanwhile, Myse-en-abyme by Matteo Fogale and Laetitia de Allegri plays with the viewers’ sense of perspective through a landscape of overlapping, semi-transparent shapes. (Illusionism is a recurring theme.) And don’t miss Faye and Erica Toogood’s Cloakroom either; the sisters are offering 150 of their coats to visitors to borrow and wear around the museum. Each comes with a sewn-in map identifying places to see other sculptural garments created by the Toogoods throughout the museum. Finally, be sure to check out Robin Day: Works in Wood as well before heading on—a career-spanning show organized in honor of the centenary of Day’s birth.

Not far from the V&A, in the Brompton Design District, Max Lamb is showing a series of Marmoreal pieces (the designer’s marble terrazzo collection with Dzek) in new colors and formats—trust me, you will never tire of it! Walking around the area, you can’t miss Mint Shop; lights by Arnout Meijer and by Sabine Marcelis are definitely worth a visit, among others. Fresh and inspiring ideas also occupy one of the smallest spaces in the Brompton Design District. The Voice of Things features works by Lina Patsiou and other RCA grads, crafted by the notion: “Describe us the functions of the object you’re thinking about, and we will design it for you.”

Moving on to the Soho area, definitely drop by 19 Greek Street. You’ll feel right at home in this four-story Victorian townhouse, covered floor to ceiling in ethically sourced designs. Lay down on a midcentury sofa while writing your own design wish list. Mine looks something like this:

- Animal Farm light by Tom Strala

- T chair by Tomáš Libertíny

- Seating Machines by Neil Nenner

Going north to Islington, stop over at twentytwentyone. The design showroom picked up a selection of sublime lights, including Barber Osgerby’s paper light collection and Michael Anastassiades’s cult chandeliers.

In the Shoreditch Triangle, a visit to A New Standard at the Less is More salon is highly recommended. Touch and feel Teruhiro Yanagihara’s Japanese pottery: a nice balance of weight, proportion, and clay tones in the tradition of Arita craftsmanship. If you are a ceramic enthusiast, go say hi to Ariane Prin at Herrick Gallery as well; she will be happy to tell you about her relationship with the stain gradients in Rust, her gorgeous new homeware collection. Make sure to get a smoked tea at Leyla’s shop while sitting on Martino Gamper’s Arnold Circus stools.

After running around the busy capital for hours, take a moment and relax in the silent south wing of the Somerset House, where pieces of a 187-year-old female ash tree currently stand. There is room to reflect here. My Grandfather’s Tree by Max Lamb (and presented by Gallery Fumi) features 131 pieces of wood, aligned in neat rows, sourced from an ailing tree that once stood guard at Lamb’s grandfather’s farm in Yorkshire. It is a beautiful example of how to re-think existing elements, giving them a new life. It is also an evocative project that honors the concept of longevity—so rare to find nowadays. 

The Quick List: 

  • Victoria and Albert Museum – Frida Escobedo, Kim Thomé, Matteo Fogale and Laetitia de Allegri, Faye & Erica Toogood, and Robin Day
  • Dzek  – Max Lamb
  • Twisting Tradition at Mint Shop– Sabine Marcellis, Arnout Meijer, and others
  • The Voice of Things – RCA grads
  • The Art of Progress at 19 Greek Street – Tom Strala, Tomáš Libertíny, Nina Tolstrup, Neil Nenner, Marjan van Aubel, and others
  • twentyontwentyone – Barber and Osgerby, Michael Anastassiades
  • A New Standard  at Less is More - Teruhiro Yanagihara
  • Rust at Herrick Gallery – Ariane Prin
  • My Grandfather’s Tree at the Somerset House – Max Lamb

  • Text by

    • Camilla Ginevra Bo'

      Camilla Ginevra Bo'

      Camilla is a design consultant with comprehensive experience in exhibition conception, scouting, installation, and writing for several respected institutions. She works at both Grimaldi Gavin Gallery and as a freelancer for various consultancy projects from her enchanting garden in Hackney.

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