London Design Festival 2012: our essential guide

After a spectacular summer of sport the capital gets in touch with its creative side for this year's London Design Festival.
Amos Field Reid and Lasse Oiva's Velopresso pedal-powered mobile coffee-making machine will be on show at the Royal College of Art

Welcome to “a new age of creativity”, says London Design Festival chair Sir John Sorrell. Now in its 10th season, this year’s feast of design includes 300 events running from Friday until September 23. The festival, the largest of its kind in Europe, is copied throughout the world. “And we’re different each year so we stay ahead,” argues director Ben Evans. You can plan your trips on the website, and/or download a free festival app. But here is a taster of the top events.

V&A: festival hub

Start here at the festival “hub” and see design at every turn, from ethereal white chair sculptures by Japanese studio Nendo to courtyard benches — each different. The museum’s erstwhile “secret” spaces are home to awesome artworks, such as the Prism suspended in the entrance cupola — a radiant multi-faceted digital sculpture by UK-based Keiichi Matsuda. This huge inverted pyramid is animated incessantly by “coded info” streaming in from all over the capital, from traffic news to tides and crime statistics.
V&A, SW7; September 14-23;

Brompton Design District

Expect marvels from London’s ace curator Jane Withers at this elegant four-floor townhouse, housing 12 idiosyncratic design projects, each with an intriguing story. Nearby, three young designers present Understory — fantasy furniture made from pulp, dowel, steel and taut elastic.
4 Cromwell Place, SW7; September 17-23 (late night 20 September);

Designers at Tent London
(Above left) Shop at Designjunction, New Oxford Street, where 17 shops will be stuffed with new design, including new online lifestyle store FAO (; and meet the designers at Tent London, including Sua Lee and Nessa Doran O'Reilly from Furniture Magpies. We love their climbing wall lamp (£895) and Mind the Gap coffee table (£695). Visit

Royal College of Art

Design for the Real World with “inclusive human-centred design” is even more relevant now than when Victor Papanek’s famous Seventies book of the same title came out. If you care about design, society and the planet, don’t miss this.
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, SW7; September 21 to October 3;

Fitzrovia now

Unlock Fitzrovia is an intriguing new design trail around the West End. Pick up the guide at any venue.

Material Lab

Made in GB celebrates materials and designers of advanced technology.
Material Lab, Great Titchfield Street, W1; September 17-21; 020 7436 8629,

Tran sofa
Also at Tent London will be Ladina Hardmeier and Denise Portmann, showing their Tran Sofa by Studio 180°, made in Britain with organic materials. Price on application; visit


Tent London

Here designers sell their work, often to take away.
Tent London, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1; September 20-23;


More than 100 more companies here.
Designjunction, The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, WC1; September 19-23;

Etienne Esmenjaud
Designer Etienne Esmenjaud and his Desinature lighting at 100% Design

100% Design

The festival is your unique chance to meet the people behind the products. Alongside the big names, more than 20 designers of “emerging brand” enthusiastically present their work.
100% Design, Earls Court, SW5; public day September 22; £15;


Encounter the UK’s edgiest creative crew as the inimitable and alternative Designersblock takes over.
Southbank Centre, SE1; September 20-23;

Nigel Coates

This maverick maestro flaunts typically flamboyant furniture and chandeliers.
Nigel Coates, Casa Reale, 25 Thurloe Street, SW7; September 15-23;

Stephen Bayley

Stephen Bayley introduces his new paperback Ugly. Plus swap your design books here.
EDC London, 20 Margaret Street, W1; September 19, 1pm; 020 7631 1090,

Dine Light
Dine Light (£750) from Curiousa & Curiousa (

Be Open Sound Portal

“Sensory design” in an enigmatic black rubberised pod which just delivers sound, but of the highest order.
Trafalgar Square, WC2; September 19-23;

Fritz Hansen

Family Lego competition with some great prizes.
13 Margaret St, W1, September 23; 020 7637 5534,


Wall-to-wall talks and workshops.
V&A, SW7; September 14-23;

Brompton Design Day

More than 20 special events, discounts and prizes – including “get up close and personal with designers and restaurateurs”.
September 22;

Fitzrovia Now

Designjunction private bike tours, £25, includes lunch.

Barley Massey

London’s eco-queen hosts upcycling workshops this weekend.
Fabrications, 7 Broadway Market, E8;


Walk your wallet round 17 shops stuffed with design, including Anything Stationery, Retail Facility, Places & Spaces, Dark Room, FAO, Outline Editions, and the ever-engaging Theo. It’s a mug’s game at Falcon Enamel — a free one to the first 100 readers to show this page.
Designjunction, The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, WC1; September 19-23;

Kristjana S Williams prints
Limited edition prints by Icelandic illustrator Kristjana S Williams can be bought from Outline Editions at Designjunction for £95 to £400. Visit

Tom Dixon shop

Modish Paris boutique Merci brings to designer Tom Dixon’s shop some brute-chic “hardware lighting” (industrial flex, bare bulbs, clamps) plus classic French linens and exclusive new wallpapers. East London’s Technology Will Save Us sells new-wave DIY kits — make your own speaker. Dixon’s own light show — Luminosity — sparkles with delights. Stoneware pendants have an iridescent glaze fused from minerals and precious stones.
Tom Dixon, Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, W10; September 17-23;


A startling new look for bone china from Stoke-on-Trent, with Max Lamb’s seemingly rough-hewn crockery cast from hand-carved plaster moulds; also Emily Johnson’s Plates chandelier.
Bamford, 169 Draycott Avenue, SW3; September 15-23;

Design Nation

Fine ceramics, glass and textiles from hand-picked designer-makers.
Southbank Centre Festival Terrace Shop, off Belvedere Road, SE1; all September; 020 7921 0771

Chest of Drawers

This “guerrilla pop-up” has great stuff by new graduates.
281 Upper Street, N1; September 14-23

The Craft Market at Tent London

Sadly the Origin craft show is no more, but 37 “progressive” craft workers have regrouped for this free selling show. (Details as before).

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