Crossovers by Adorno at London Design Festival 2019
Crossovers exhibition by Adorno at London Design Festival. Image by Tommy Frost

Twelve exhibitions, events and installations to take in at London Design Festival 2019

As London Design Festival approaches, Dezeen's Jennifer Hahn picks the 12 highlights to see and do during the week-long event, from a circular bamboo nest by architect Kengo Kuma to grow-it-yourself couture.

Between the 14 and 22 September, the city's 11 design districts – from Kensington in the west to the Shoreditch Design Triangle in the east – will once again play host to more than 400 different events, exhibitions and installations.

Stand-out projects can be found in the oldest of the design districts in Brompton, as well as at the festival's home base in the V&A museum just around the corner. King's Cross is the latest district to be added to the city-wide celebration of design and the new home of Designjunction.

Here's our pick of the 12 must-see things to visit:


Spanning 11 collections, from 11 curators and taking in 11 countries – this exhibition by digital gallery Adorno is a celebration of hyper-local design and craft culture.

It features collectible pieces by independent designers hailing from Adorno's native Denmark, alongside a line-up of nations as various as Mexico, Turkey and Iceland.

Among the pieces presented as part of the London Design Fair between 19 and 22 September will be phallic candle holders with fluorescent pubic hair by Swedish designer Åsa Jungnelius and a coral-looking sculpture made of popcorn trapped in porcelain by ceramicist Veera Kulju.

Old Truman Brewery, Floor 3 H14, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QR

Bamboo Ring

For the duration of the festival, the V&A's courtyard garden will be taken over by an installation courtesy of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

The piece was commissioned especially for the occasion, and takes the form of a circular nest made from multiple, interweaving bamboo helixes perched atop the central fountain.

Kuma, who designed the V&A Dundee, conceptualised the Bamboo Ring as an ode to the traditional Japanese building material – both its flexibility and its strength. It is reinforced by carbon fibre to create a rigid structure while still maintaining a feeling of lightness.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL


"Considerate design" is the name of the game at this exhibition curated by design shop Mint. It features works from more than 60 designers and artisans intended to minimise our impact on the environment and will be on show until the 30 September.

Highlights include a collection of furniture by London designer Jesper Eriksson made from coal – presenting the material as something to be kept and cherished rather than burned – and Ven.To, a table crafted from a fallen, lightning-struck tree.

Mint Gallery, 2 North Terrace, SW3 2BA

Please Be Seated

For one of the festival's landmark projects, designer Paul Cocksedge has turned reclaimed scaffolding planks into a large-scale public installation.

Formed of three concentric circles that flow up and down like waves, the piece invites pedestrians in Finsbury Avenue Square to pass below its curves or linger on them.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Please Be Seated, head to The Space 3FA, an event space on the square which will also feature a selection of other works by the British designer.

Finsbury Avenue Square, EC2M 2PP


The inaugural Italian Manufacture, Art and Design Exhibition (I-Made) will feature pieces by seminal brands including Alias, Moroso and Porro displayed like artworks in Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery.

The exhibition, curated by Giulio Cappellini, will be open to the public between the 20 and 22 September alongside a series of talks and workshops celebrating Italian craftsmanship.

A smaller satellite exhibition called Take a Seat at the same location will feature pieces that have "changed the history of seating design".

Saatchi Gallery, King's Rd, SW3 4RY

Interactive Design Studio animal habitats

Brompton Biopia

A series of houses for small creatures will be on display across Brompton as examples of animal-centred design intended to help the district's local fauna thrive.

In Thurloe Square Gardens, experimental designer Marlène Huissoud will exhibit insect shelters made from natural and biodegradable materials. On South Kensington's Exhibition Road, the Material Architecture Lab will display entire miniature ecosystems that hang from balconies, created using 3D-printed moulds.

Meanwhile, in a project by Goldsmith College's Interaction Research Studio on view in Alexander Square Gardens, visitors will be able to follow the daily life of urban animals via motion-sense cameras in a bid to create more empathy towards local wildlife.

Various locations across the Brompton Design District.

Walala Lounge

Multidisciplinary artist Camille Walala will turn Mayfair's South Molton Street into a public living-room, with a series of 11 sculptural benches in her signature palette of bright, playful colours and geometric patterns.

Accompanied by planters and supersized bunting, this "urban intervention" aims to address London's lack of colour and readily-available social spaces, while putting a smile on the faces of passersby.

On Monday 16 September at 5.15pm, the installation will host a conversation between Walala and Dezeen's Tom Ravenscroft about projects past and present, from her first hotel which opened in Mauritius in January, to the inflatable castle created for LDF 2017.

South Molton Street, W1K 5QE

A Second Life

All the pieces commissioned for this project by design consultancy Matter of Stuff were created from one single material – wooden dowels reused from the company's 2018 LDF show.

At the hands of multidisciplinary collaborators, including the architects of and furniture designer Brodie Neill, the rods are given new life and transformed into everything from a bench to makeshift walls and lights in a testament to the endless possibilities for reuse.

The exhibition will be on show at restaurant-meets-gallery Sketch until 7 November, with all pieces for sale and proceeds going to charities protecting the Amazon Rainforest.

Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, W1S2XG

Roksanda Ilincic penthouse apartment in London's King's Cross

The Penthouse

Earlier this year, fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic revealed a three-level penthouse designed by her, situated in one of three luxury apartment buildings at 19th-century Gasholders in King's Cross.

Visitors to the London Design Fair will be able to see the flat in the flesh and get unprecedented access through a series of guided tours taking stock of the rich collection of furniture, art and ceramics on display by the likes of Lina Bo Bardi, Charlotte Perriand and a vast range of other female artists.

Tickets need to be booked in advance with tours leaving daily at 10am, 12 and 3pm from the Gasholders Concierge desk.

1 Lewis Cubitt Walk, N1C 4BX

V&A Food: Bigger than the Plate

Food Production: Consumption, Urban Farming, Waste & Design

As part of the Global Design Forum, a talk at the V&A will explore how designers can shape the future of food and address some of the big issues facing the industry around carbon emissions, overproduction and future shortages.

The speakers, who will offer a range of perspectives on the topic, include Jackson Boxer, chef-patron of Brunswick House; Carolien Niebling, food researcher and maker of the Future Sausage and Fernando La Posse, the Mexican designer behind a renewable veneer made from corn husks.

The talk will run from 2 to 2.50pm on 14 September. Tickets cost £12 and need to be pre-booked online.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL

Touchy Smelly Feely Noisy Tasty

Tom Dixon, winner of this year's London Design Medal, will take visitors on a journey through the senses in a series of talks and workshops at his Coal Office complex in Coals Drop Yard.

Experiences on offer range from live chair-weaving, demonstrated by Rush Matters, to liquor tasting with Danish distillery Empirical Spirits and a conversation between Dixon and smell researcher Sissel Tolaas about how scent influences our experience of design.

Those who tick off all the senses will be rewarded with a limited edition Tom Dixon tote bag at the end.

The Coal Office, 1 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ

Biodesign Here Now

A cast of more than 30 international designers and startups will give visitors a taste of biodesign's future potential at this second annual exhibition.

From a bar made entirely of fungal mycelium to grow-it-yourself couture by RCA graduate Piero D'Angelo, the projects on display advocate for the integration of biology into product design for the sake of sustainability and affordability.

The exhibition will be on show at Open Cell, a public research centre for consumer-facing biotechnology, between 20 and 21 September with a number of symposiums held on topics such as human-machine symbiosis and the uses of biomaterials.

Open Cell, Old Laundry Yard, Shepherds Bush Market, W12 8EZ