London Design Festival ’08 review
Jeepers it's busy in London lately. Seems you can't hardly turn a corner without tripping over some kind of cultural event that's as eager as a puppy to show you something brilliant and exciting. And leading the pack is the London Design Festival, now in its 6th year, and going from strength to strength.
We knew we were only going to make it to a fraction of the 128 (or so) exhibitions, so decided to stick to the big guns: 100% Design (and its siblings, 100% Materials and 100% Futures) at Earls Court; Tent London over at the Truman Brewery, and Designersblock, which was getting all fancy-pants this year in Covent Garden.
We scooted over to 100% Design first, which felt much groovier than normal - we reckon it might well have stolen some of the fun stuff away from the other shows.
We totally loved the Squirrel Wall Lamps from Alex Randall at Jericho Hands. Alex explained that she'd teamed up with an ace taxidermist to create the lamps from actual dead squirrels, and pointed out that they had excellent environmental credentials as they're effectively recycled vermin. Which is nice.
We also got excited by Alex Underwood's Speaker Buddies, exhibited as part of a Northumbria University group show. They stand 50cm tall and are moulded from recycled expanded polystyrene. Deeply wonderful.
We also loved the latest show from the folks at [re]design, Lighten Up, which collected together some stunning lights and lamps, all with a focus on sustainability. We particularly loved Anna McConnell's gorgeous Non Standard Lamp. Anna takes existing lampstands and breathes new life into them by adding ball bearing hinges, rewiring them, and adding a weighted base for extra stability. Smart.
Having walked eight (or nine?) miles up and down the aisles of Earl's Court, we jumped on a tube and made our way to Tent London. There was a fair amount to see there, but the one thing that really stood out for us was Andrew Ross's Bone Watch. It's still in a very experimental stage, but we think it's lush.
Next up was Designersblock, once again in a fantastic location, No1 The Piazza at Covent Garden - lots of exposed brick and temporary scaffolding. And it was there that we found our pick of this year's show, the sublime Neo Monuments series (top and below) by Mikael Alacoque. Exhibited as part of Kith Kin's Pah-ah show, Mikael describes them as "a playfully sinister bastardization of familiar objects", which we reckon is spot on. We had to be physically restrained from stealing one for the studio. Utterly brilliant, and incredibly iconic.
All in all, a pretty fine collection of work. (There are a few more pics from our wanderings over on Alistair's LDF 08 Flickr set.)
We'll just sign off by making one request - can the powers that be see if they can schedule Open House London and the LDF on different dates next year? There's only so much design goodness you can squeeze into a weekend...