Dezeen Magazine

Twelve must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

With London Design Festival starting this weekend, design editor Augusta Pownall picks her top 12 must-see installations, events and exhibitions, including a poetry-spouting lion and a huge tea party.

London Design Festival 2018 takes place from 15 to 23 September. Featuring more than 400 events, this annual celebration of design takes place across 11 designated design districts and also includes a series of landmark projects.

As usual, the V&A museum in South Kensington provides the festival's hub and is the site of a number of installations. Other highlights can be found in the Shoreditch Design Triangle in the east, and in Marylebone Design District to the west.

Here's our pick of the top 12 things to see:

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Hilos Invisibles

This show will display seven furniture pieces designed in collaboration with studios from Montevideo and inspired by original drawings of modernist Uruguayan architect Julio Vilamajó. Examples include a suede bench by Studio Diario and a chair by Carolina Palombo Píriz that was knitted by local weavers.

Curator Matteo Fogale dug into the archives of the carpenters who made Vilamajó's furniture for inspiration, and photos and original drawings of these will be displayed alongside. Research and archive material, including details about the house the architect build for himself in 1930, from the Faculty of Architecture's archives in Montevideo, will also be on display.

The Aram Gallery, 110 Drury Ln, WC2B 5SG


Tom Dixon will be celebrating moving his headquarters to Coal Drops Yard by exploring the realms of digital technology with a 1970s discotheque in a former railway arch and electronic musician Yuri Suzuki cutting records.

Leather experts Bill Amberg Studio will also present specially commissioned, digitally printed leather hides by Dixon, Faye Toogood, Timorous Beasties and others.

Part of an exhibition called Hyper Real that also includes five graphic fabrics printed with Kirkby Design, and charred carpets by Ege, it will feature upholstery demonstrations each day at 10am and 2pm.

Tom Dixon showroom, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art

London Design Festival offers the final chance to see a comprehensive exhibition of 150 pieces by illustrator and textile designer Enid Marx.

Alongside Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, Marx defined mid-century design. Best known for her London Underground textiles, she also created textiles for the wartime Utility Furniture Scheme, patterned paper for Curwen Press, designed book covers for King Penguin and the stamps for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.

The exhibition at the House of Illustration in Kings Cross marks the 20th anniversary of her death and is co-curated by Alan Powers, whose monograph on Marx came out recently.

House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, N1C 4BH

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

The Data and Life of Great Future Cities

An exhibition at the Zaha Hadid-designed Roca London Gallery poses the controversial question of whether, used responsibly, personal data could be the key to better urban design. It also explores how we have previously sought to understand cities, particularly through the work of pioneering American urbanist Jane Jacobs.

With modern methods of mapping urban areas using tools such as OpenStreetMap and tracking the density of mobile phone calls we can now use big data to learn about how public spaces are used from the ground up rather than by looking at satellite images, but should we?

A talk at the gallery on Monday 17 September at 6:30pm will further explore studying the patterns of our lives through data.

Roca London Gallery, Station Court, SW6 2PY


A huge wooden maze-like structure will spring up in the Sackler Courtyard of the V&A during London Design Festival.

Designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, the structure uses 60 cubic metres of responsibly sourced American Tulipwood and will allow visitors to see the V&A from previously impossible angles.

It should shine a light on the housing crisis and climate change, two major issues facing London and the rest of the world.

V&A Sackler Courtyard, Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL

Common Senses

Viaduct will present a five-woman show exploring the simplicity of materials through an exploration of the building blocks of each designer's practice.

The chosen contributors are Ilse Crawford of Studioilse, Farah Ebrahimi of e15, Nani Marquina, Nina Maso of Santa & Cole and Fien Muller or Muller Van Severen.

Crawford's study of materials, from metal waste to nettle fibres, will sit beside a living room space designed by Ebrahimi that includes both furniture and her favourite books and a series of mini installations or "one minute worlds" from Fien Muller.

Viaduct showroom, 1-10 Summers St, EC1R 5BD

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Please Feed the Lions

Designer Es Devlin will add a fifth flourescent, poetry-spouting lion at the base of Nelson's Column during the festival.

An LED screen embedded in the lion's mouth will show lines of poetry generated using new machine learning technology. Words fed to the lion by the public by typing into a screen next to the lion itself in Trafalgar Square will be combined with words thrown up by an algorithm trained on the work of 19th century poets from the period in which the four original lions were cast.

At night, the poetry will be projected onto the lion's body and onto Nelson's Column, and the project will be simultaneously available online.

Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Sugarhouse Studios open house

The Bermondsey studios run by Turner Prize-winning architecture collective Assemble will be open to the public on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 September.

The 20 studios at the site are due to be demolished for redevelopment but in the meantime Assemble, which recently completed the Goldsmith Centre of Contemporary Art, aims to offer a co-working space for artists and makers, complete with wood workshop and mill.

The space is currently occupied by a range of practitioners including ceramicists, graphic designers and architects, and the nature of the space encourages collaboration, which will be open for visitors to see.

Sugerhouse Studios Bermondsey, 19 Collett Rd, SE16 4DJ

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Time for Tea

Scholten and Baijings will turn the first floor of Fortnum & Mason into a tea "installation" with tea party performances four times a day throughout the festival.

These will take place on a six-metre-long table, using over 80 products from all over the world. All the furniture will be designed by the Dutch studio in the distinctive Fortnum's eau de nil green, with marble floor and tables by Luce di Carrara, curtains by Maharam, and an exquisite porcelain tea set designed in Arita, Japan.

Fortnum & Masons, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

A World of Ordinary Things

A series of exhibitions at SCP's showroom seek to explore our relationship to the objects that we use on a daily basis.

These include the new Reclaimed chair from the 1 Inch collection by Jasper Morrison for Emeco, made from 90 pre cent industrial waste material, as well as new designs from Piet Hein Eek, Philippe Malouin and Matthew Hilton.

Also on display will be the Bürstenhaus Redecker Müseum which comprises 45 carefully chosen brushes made by the eponymous company in Versmold, Germany since 1935.

An eight-minute six-channel musical composition entitled The Morrison Canon by 6 Agents by Anthony Moore will also feature.

SCP showroom, 135-139 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3BX

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Brutalist Tapestry

Digital artist Jason Bruges, who previously produced a glowing glass block wall for Sunderland train station, was commissioned to produce a 21-metre-long kinetic installation for Beech Street tunnel, better known as the road tunnel under the Barbican Centre.

Unveiled during the festival, his Brutalist Tapestry translates imagery, video, sound and binary data into tangible marks, bringing a new cultural connection to the previously unloved transit space.

Beech Street, EC2Y 8DS

10 must-see exhibitions and events at London Design Festival 2018

Blythe House tours

The V&A's archives are stored at Blythe House, the former headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank in Olympia, and part of the new West Kensington Design district.

The Archive of Art and Design (AAD) was established in 1978 to house the V&A's growing holdings of archival material from graphic design to metalwork to exhibition design. The Grade-II listed Edwardian building houses the overflow of the museum's vast art and design collections, as well as theatre and performance artefacts.

On Friday 21 September at 3pm, the estate manager Glenn Benson will lead a tour of the highlights.

Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, W14 0HA