London Design Festival 2021

London Design Festival is back and after the past 18 months, it feels good to be experiencing art & design in person again! The festival incorporates a wide range of exhibitions, installations and talks dotted in and around galleries, museums, shops and buildings within the London districts, and runs from the 18th to the 26th of September.

Our junior designer, Sabrina, took a trip to the capital over the weekend for the debut day of the festival, below are some of her highlights.

Brickfield Newham

Communities from the Newham area in London took part in a brick-making workshop that ran from May 2021 in an area in the Royal Docks. It brought together individuals to create bricks from industrial waste materials in the hope of connecting people to the land they stand on, the people they live around, and the places that they reside. They were also joined by artists and performers from the students at the University of East London who presented performances around the themes of dwelling, living and claiming the earth.

Some of the hand-made bricks are on show at The V&A along with artistic responses from Brickfield supporting artists Bobi MacFadzean and Zenna Tagney.

Made on Location RESOLVE Collective

This installation was a collaborative piece created by a selection of youth groups in East London. The pieces were created using upcycled materials from The V&A and explore ideas around how museums and galleries can become essential spaces for local youth groups. The installation consisted of scaffolded formation housing a number of boards. Students scribbled thoughts, ideas and mind-maps on these boards, expanding on their creative ideas for The V&A –and other galleries. In addition, a number of fashion pieces were draped over the scaffolding which brought a splash of visual creativity.

Portal Tables, The Decorators

Portal Tables was a project created in the wake of the pandemic which explores the relationship that we as individuals had with the environments around us, most importantly the furniture in which we spend the most time around. Exhibited at The V&A alongside a documentary film is a piece called Sofa-bread which explores the relationship between the places we sit to enjoy our food, where we make it, and what our food is made from.

Shaping Space: modelling, making and activism

This was by far a personal favourite exhibition for me, being an animator and activist myself it was one I was instantly drawn to. Save Ralph is an animated puppet short film created by Andy Gent, alongside many big names as voice actors, for The Humane Society International with a tale of heartbreak and harsh truth. The short follows the daily routine of a rabbit whose job is a cosmetic tester. With ounces of comedic flair dotted in, it’s an enjoyable watch, but are reminded of the intended messaging – these animals do not deserve this.

My key takeaway from the debut day of London Design Festival was a reinforcement of the very reason I got into design –that design can be a driving force for change. Every single thing that you see, interact with and experience throughout your daily life has been designed by someone –whether intentional or not. Design can make a difference, and designers across the world are starting to use their talents to do so.