London Design Festival 2015: here's what you have to see

Headline installations include a 35-metre high, upside-down, leaning sculpture of an electricity pylon, a ‘city’ of mirrors, redesigned road signs, and a ‘cloud’ of bulbs with insects inside.


The London Design Festival kicks off this wekeend, returning with the usual huge array of installations, exhibitions, talks and awards across the UK's capital – and spanning forms of design from graphic and digital to architecture, product furniture and anything else you can think of.

Last year’s standout project was Barber & Osgerby’s truly incredible Double Space: two enormous, wing-shaped mirrors hung across the whole ceiling of the V&A’s Raphael Gallery that moved slowly to allow you to appreciate not only their scale but the effect they were having on the light in the space.

This year, there’s clearly been an attempt to emulate its success, commissioning works that are spectacles: easy for the general public to appreciate and bringing out a sense of wonder in the viewer (if only to wonder at how they did it).

Topping Double Space in terms of scale, Alex Chinneck’s 35-metre high sculpture A Bullet from a Shooting Star looks like an electricity pylon. But upside down. And leaning at a 30-degree angle.

And now we finally have a photo of it (previous pics were mock-ups).

Read on for more on this and other projects at the London Design Festival 2015, set to take place from 19 to 27 September.

The sculpture is located just north of the south entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel on the Greenwich peninsula, where its designs sit next to a similarly latticed, redundant gas holder. Visitors can walk underneath it, and it’s be viewable by people on the Thames Clipper service, and flights to and from London City Airport – as well from the Dangleway (for all five people who use it every year)

The sculpture is a 900-point lattice of 1,005m of steel and weighs 15 tonnes. To keep it upright(ish) are foundations 19m deep with 78m3 of concrete.

Alex’s previous projects include a floating building in Covent Garden and a house with a facade that’s slid off – and based on those, A Bullet from a Shooting Star could be something truly special.


The V&A’s central courtyard can be as popular as the museum’s exhibits – my daughter loves paddling in the water feature at its heart – and this has become a pavilion called You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well As By Reflection by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo.

The pavilion consists of a series of mirrored surfaces – the Double Space influence coming through again there – that you can sit and stand on. These will be rearranged for a series of events running from the end of May til after the close of the London Design Festival.

The project is based on the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán – which was built in a lake and existed on a site that’s currently part of Mexico City.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Archtect Frida Escobedo.


TfL's Night Tube may have been delayed – but a series of prints created to herald its arrival are coming out anyway.

Artists Noma Bar, Kristjana S Williams, Morag Myserscough, Virginie Morgand and Malika Favre are amongst those selected to add their work to this project by Outline Editions and Transport for London, and the array of contributions range from highly detailed illustrations to simple but striking minimalist graphics and from very bright, bold pieces to more delicate, restrained offerings.

The prints are available at DesignJunction , which runs from September 24-27.


50 years after Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir created a unified way to lay out road signs that made it easier for drivers to quickly read and understand signs, 42 of the UK's leading graphics designers and artists have paid tribute to this by creating their own versions of road signs – some funny, some thoughtful and some just taking the piss.

The project was curated by Made North and forms the basis of a free exhibition at London's Design Museum. The museum is also showing off some of Jock and Margaret's original designs including a version of the Road Works sign created for the exhibition by Margaret.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Etsy's Four Corners of Craft exhibition brings together works for sale by craftspeople from around the UK. There's homewares, jewellery, furniture – including this rather lovely table by Ted Wood – and more.

Four Corners of Craft is part of the Tent London event.


Patternity designed the interior of one of the little houses that sat in Trafalgar Square for last year's festival for the airbnb-sponsored A Place Called Home project, and this year the duo of Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham are doing at talk on pattern design at a pop-up gallery on Redchurch Street in east London on September 21.


Back at the V&A, Mischer’traxler’s Curiosity Cloud is likely to delight a wide range of audiences who see it in the Norfolk House Music Room (assuming the team pulls it off).

The ‘cloud’ is 250 bulbs, each with an insect inside. Each bulb and insect react to the presence of visitors: moving, lighting up and emitting sounds.

Advertisement. Article continues below

The Festival’s identity was again designed by Pentagram, drawing inspiration from newspaper bulletin boards.


The identity will be used on posters, the Festival’s programme and its website.


As with previous years, there will be a series of talks and workshops. Of most interest to Digital Arts readers will be the Graphics Weekend (September 19-20) and Digital Design Weekend (Sep 26-27). There will be a Lates event on Friday Sep 25.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Matteo Fogale and Laetitia De Allegri are creating Mise-en-abyme – a series of sheets of different colours, hanging over a grid of tiles on the bridge between the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries.


Somerset House is be hosting London Design Festival projects for the first time. Architect David Adjaye will be creating an installation sponsored by Mini (which is owned by BMW, which sponsored Double Space.

There will also be an exhibition of the work of 10 designers in the West Wing galleries


Those 10 designers include British design duo Barber & Osgerby, who have created an intimate reading room in partnership with Knoll and Glas Italia, in which visitors will be invited to sit and read the designers' new book.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Additionally, Alex Rasmussen is set to create a giant wave from more than 700 anodised aluminium panels that will fill the entire room and reflect crystalline shades of Pacific blue.


Film and set designer Tino Schaedler, who was involved in hit movies such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter, is also taking part in Somerset House' West Wing Galleries after joining forces with Nabil to create the first VR experience at London Digital Festival.

The exhibit features a black turbine sculpture that is designed to redefine the relationship between the physical and virtual space. "The fibreglass sculpture sits on an elegant smoked mirror pedestal with a VR helmet positioned above a leather seat for the visitor to use and experience a new and fantastical transformation of the room." The duo has collaborated with sound designers Nordmeister to add spatial sound into the mix.


The Tower of Babel is a six-metre-high installation by Barnaby Barford made from 3,000 china surfaces. Each surface has a photo of a different London shop – and each can be purchased.

Advertisement. Article continues below