Our third foray into the London Design Festival saw us take in the main two umbrella events, 100% Design at Earls Court and Tent London on the other side of town in the Truman Brewery. Both were significantly smaller this year (100% took up just one of the two halls it usually occupies). Tent felt a bit thin on the ground, but 100% benefitted from being smaller - the edit seemed more considered and the layout made more sense.
The same could be said for the festival as a whole. Things either felt a little disparate and thrown together or carefully curated to make sense of what's happening in design at the moment on a wider scale. Strict organisation around just two 'hubs', one in the east and one in the west, would be our advice to improve the coordination next year.
Half way through the London Design Festival and, blessed with good weather, spirits are high. The second installment saw us take in Tom Dixon's 'The Dock' and much of the Brompton Design district in the west of the city. Dixon created another 'hub' around his new premises at Portobello Dock and, though there were one or two notable highlights, we came away feeling it could have been a fifth of the size. Around the V&A things are curated a little better - Libby Sellers' showing of Dick Van Hoff's work in an old car park is exceptional and Nina Tolstrup's Pallet invasion of Jacqueline Rabun's showroom is ethereal, imaginative and well worth the wander to Hyde Park Corner...
Much as we love design and London, the London Design Festival has in the past left us a little cold. Not through lack of effort, more by dint of the city’s scale and lack of coordination between events.
This year promised much though, according to Ben Evans, festival director, who answered our quibbles back in May. And after a gentle amble around town on the opening weekend, it does seem like things might be different this year – more coherent as a citywide event, more things of more substance, and above all, more things open at the start of the week so more time to cover it. These are our highlights thus far….