Video games, discotheques and speaker systems make noise at London Design Festival
Our monthly dissection of the best design-minded technology happenings the world over
Train your VR goggles on London this September as a charge of tech-related activity buzzes through the capital during London Design Festival 2018. Future-seeking exhibitions with cultural bent fill big institutions like the V&A Museum and Somerset House, while a bright red lion roars poetry in Trafalgar Square, and a catalogue of life-enhancing products launches across the city.
SP1000M flagship design, by Astell&Kern
A&ultima SP1000M – the new flagship design from Wallpaper* Design Award-winning audio company Astell&Kern – is on a mission to make superior quality music as portable as possible. Smaller and lighter than its big brother – the SP1000 – weighs in at just 200g, and can be controlled with one hand. Despite the reduced footprint, the body shape maintains Astell&Kern’s distinctive, irregular split-planes, giving the SP1000M its satisfyingly tactile quality. The Lapis Blue finish is equally as distinctive, with origins in the ancient precious Lapis lazuli stone, prized since antiquity for its intense colour. There’s nothing antiquated about the tech inside, however. Powered by dual AK4497EQ DAC chips (no, us neither), the SP1000M boasts high-resolution and three-dimensional sound, equipped with an octa-core CPU for faster and seamless performance regardless of file size.
Technology showcases at the V&A Museum
Kentucky Route Zero. Courtesy of Cardboard Computer, on display at ‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt’, V&A Museum
The 166 year old institution is hosting a banquet of futuristic bytes this year. During LDF, it’s your last chance to see the landmark exhibition The Future Starts Here (until 4 November), which engages in a spot of reverse archaeology by scouring labs the world over – from Silicon Valley giants to Scottish start-ups – to collate more than 100 objects that point the way ahead.
Elsewhere, an exhibition on the future of digital music forms one of four V&A Projects. ‘Beatie Wolfe: The Art of Music in the Digital Age’ features the world’s first anti-stream from the quietest room on earth (in collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs and Design I/O); a 3D vinyl for the phone; an intelligent album deck of cards; and a musical jacket designed by Mr Fish (the tailor who dressed David Bowie) made from BeatWoven fabric woven with Wolfe’s music.
While you’re in the hallowed V&A halls, plug into an idiosyncratic exhibition on the history of video game design since the early 2000s, with the newly opened ‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt’ (until 24 February 2018). Glimpse into the creative world of Nintendo’s Splatoon (2015), and The Last of Us (2013), alongside DIY arcade games and interactive installations.
V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
Collection 001, by Nolii
Layer’s Benjamin Hubert launched Nolii alongside tech entrepreneur Asad Hamir at at Somerset House during last year’s London Design Festival. Since, the lifestyle-focussed tech brand has become known for putting forward-thinking design front and centre. The collection, which features everyday technology essentials like charging cables and a phone case-cum-card holder, boasts the functional efficiency that Layer champions.
In 12 months, the Layer design team has taken the five products from Collection 001 from prototype to production-ready. They’ve overseen the creation of hundreds of functional product samples, designed the brand’s packaging and created a new website. The five products from Collection 001 – Couple, Set, Keep, Stack, and Bundle are now retail-ready and will go on sale at LDF.
designjunction, 20-23 September; Doon Street, London, SE1 9PU
During a festival where products are more often scrutinised for their aesthetic appeal and life-enhancing function than their technical minutiae, KiteONE is offering some serious technological clout. Another collaboration with Hubert’s Layer studio – this time with the London-based eyewear brand – the collection comprises a modular, 3D printed frame manufactured to the specific measurements of the customer’s head and face to create a bespoke, perfectly-fitted pair of spectacles. The eyewear can be further customised through a choice of four different temple styles, three different colours, and finishes. Style over technological, functional substance this is not.
designjunction, 20-23 September; Barge House St, South Bank, SE1 9PH
1/6000, by Bang & Olufsen
Bang & Olufsen aims to turn ‘everyday mundanity to musical mastery’ at the old bank on Brompton Road during LDF 2018, with an immersive sound installation. To celebrate the launch of Beosound Edge, a new wireless speaker for the home designed in collaboration with designer Michael Anastassiades (who has also created a sustainable water-fountain for V&A Projects this year), the installation features a bespoke composition called ‘Liquid Contra’ by Mauro Hertig, featuring six new Edge speakers.
Fitting for its old bank installation, the Beosound Edge’s design inspiration comes from the classic British pound coin. In the traditional bank vestibule, immersed in sound, guests are invited to interact with the composition by rolling the speakers back and forth, which in turn, changes their volume. Rock on.
237 Brompton Road, Chelsea, London SW3 2ER
ELECTROANALOGUE at The Coal Office
Digitally printed leather, by Bill Amberg Studio and Tom Dixon, 2018
Neatly coinciding with his upcoming Native Union technology launch on 15 October, musically-minded Dixon is lengthening his digital stride at The Coal Office during LDF. Part of the inaugural King’s Cross Design Route, ELECTROANALOGUE will analyse the point where digital technology meets the physical world, through installations by Teenage Engineering, sound artist Yuri Suzuki, sound lab and bar Spiritland, Ege, and Dixon’s new digitally-printed leather collaboration with Bill Amberg Studio.
Highlights are sure to include the transformation of a Coal Office arch (once home to the debaucherous The Cross nightclub), into a 1970’s discotheque, showcasing Teenage Engineering’s new OP-Z synthesizer; and Yuri Suzuki’s The Factory installation, which will see him cut records live, in an immersive electronics assembly line. §
The Coal Office, 15-23 September; Arches, Coal Drops Yard, 3-10 Bagley Walk, N1C 4DH