It was already the third time since 2020 that London Design Festival took place during pandemic. The festival continues to move towards smaller local events compared to pre pandemic large scale trade shows.
Image: Vitra new showroom, Shoreditch
This year was also the 20 years celebration of the festival aiming to promote London as a design capital of the world. Sadly, in reflection to recent challenging times this was a much smaller scale event. The only surviving larger trade show Design London was held for the second year at the new Design District in North Greenwhich.
Circular design was an overarching trend among both furniture manufacturers & makers, and also consumer goods. Adidas was first big brand with a high profile presentation about their circular design system creation.
Adidas exhibition explained their process from single use to returning and remaking. Circular design initiative that started with the Loop 2018 has progressed to ‘Made to be remade’ Ultraboost (all-gender) and Terrex shoes designed and created so that they can be remade.
One Tree project by SCP presents objects made by group of designers, artist and craftspeople from wood out of cutting one tree. The ash tree was suffering from Ash dieback. Rather than make it into firewood, carbon is retained and not released. The project illustrates how wood can give new material life to such a diverse range of objects.
Need for comfort has been a main driver since the beginning of pandemic times. It’s popularity extends from home to more formal environments like work and hospitality sector. Cosiness, with padded volume and soft rounded corners create friendly and relaxed athmosphere.
Strong Warm Colours
Colour palettes are offering a growing variety for larger objects like furniture. Colour spectrum is not limited to pale pastels (pink, mint green). Confident statement colours like dark green and red are common this year. They create strong palettes with warm earthy shades of mustard, orange and yellow.
New Materials & Craftmanship
Material Matters was one of the highlights of this year’s festival. It showcased a nicely edited selection of high quality new materials with great craftmanship.
In addition to product and materials trends there were interesting smaller more focused exhibitions around the city. Regenerative Futures by Arup’s Foresight team was a rare opportunity to see future artifacts together with a design fiction film, Abundance. They are telling a story about what a future regenerative London might look like.
Regenerative design is aiming for a net positive outcome. It is about human and natural systems co-existing and evolving together and following principals like designing with nature.
How can design support physical, mental, social and economic impact of transisition on ability to live and work. Smaller and focused exhibition on design for Ageing was curated by Design Age Institute in collaboration with the Design Museum. It presented 6 initiatives to enhance our experience of living in later life.
It felt like after 20 years the design festival was taking a pause. The program direction towards smaller local events is not in tune with the grand goal of London as a design capital of the world. From visitor point of view it is challenging to move accross the city to attend many small events. So, at the moment it looks like it is a festival for locals.