London Design Festival 2013: main show guide

Barbara Chandler previews the shows at this year's London Design Festival, from Tent London and Designersblock to 100% Design and Designjunction
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At Nous, the new graduate show at Tent London (September 19-22), see the April Chair by Veronica Wesolowski; Bird Brick, a nesting box for birds, by Aaron Dunkerton; Coat Hook from Tyrone Chan and the blue Flip Chair, far right, designed by Giho Yang

The London Design Festival, a globally important design event that everyone should visit, opens for its eleventh year on Saturday September 14. It is the start of an eight-day programme of hundreds of events that will have an enormous impact on the capital.

“Design creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of pounds for London,” Mayor Boris Johnson reminds us, so check out the events and get involved.

Use the “my festival” option at to “pin” a personalised game plan, then share it with your friends. And get a free printed guide from any venue — it makes for a great souvenir.

READ MORE: JOY OF DESIGN photography exhibition by Barbara Chandler

Gareth Batowski
Gareth Batowski with his dual-purpose Parity pedestal and drawers (£1,495) showing at Tent London (
'THE BIG FOUR': individual shows 2013
Reader offer: Two-for-one tickets - book by Friday September 13

For raw new talent, visit the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, E1 (September 19-22; where a cutting-edge crowd shows and views at Tent London, with Super Brands London as an altogether more glossy affair. Many events are free, for others book before Friday for a two-for-one ticket, quoting code ESTL241 (not valid on door).

2. DESIGNERSBLOCK: September 19-22
Free and always fun is Designersblock on the South Bank, with designers, artists, craftspeople and techno-wizards making your visit so worthwhile (

3. DESIGNJUNCTION: September 19-22
Ultra-accessible is the West End’s designjunction, with three floors of shopping, food and bars, a mix of big brands and start-ups, plus free entry with a Visa card, or pre-register online. The Sorting Office, 21-23 New Oxford Street, WC1 (

Super cool Japanese Tokyobikes will do design bike tours from/to designjunction 19-22 September; £32.45; includes lunch at Jamie Oliver and booking fee; Or try out the new ebike with two-hour design tours starting from Earls Court 2 at 100% Design.

4. 100% DESIGN: public day September 21
Reader offer: two-for-one tickets

Polished and assured is the 100% Design trade show at Earls Court, SW5, with five halls, big international names and show-stopping installations, plus an avenue for young emerging talent. Public day, September 21; £15 or readers’ offer two-for-one: print this page and quote code pub100.

London Icons, architectural sculptures by Chisel & Mouse, are £140 each, at Tent London (, while tile company Domus shows 20 doll's houses by top architects at its new W1 showroom (

See how new technology and energy-saving rules have radically changed the shape of lights — domestic lighting is a big trend this year. For example, visit lightjunction (at designjunction) in the West End.

Woven Easy Chair by Alexander Mueller at Brink, Tent London (
Pop-up, pop-in: Tom Dixon, Westbourne Grove
Buy something different at the festival’s impromptu design shops. Metal-welder turned impresario Tom Dixon is putting on a grand canal-bank show. Here handmade on-line goods get physical at a “flash market” from web marketplace Etsy (Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, W10;

Max out on minimalism at design agency Retail Facility from 16-20 September at 20 Britton Street, London EC1 – some things are half-price, e.g. the super-elegant Bell clock for £39, (black, red, and off white).

Future gazing: Laser Lab
What is the future of design? Be amazed by the festival’s new ideas. The international metalworking machine-giant TRUMPF will create a Laser Lab at Tom Dixon ( with live on-site manufacturing. Get free rulers and paperclips with your name on them.

Talks and presentations at the Design Museum on Friday evening (September 13; 8pm) investigate The Shape of Things to Come with South Kiosk creative agency: £17, students £12, members £8.50. Digits2Widgets will showcase 3D printing in NW1 (, and at the Design Museum you’ll find a concept car and a carbon-fibre chair by Ross Lovegrove.

Concrete Stool by Sam Jennings at Brink, Tent London
Join a workshop
The festival offers workshops, walks, talks and debates, all listed at The V&A has a theme for each day. This weekend (September 14-15) it’s graphics, while Monday (September 16) spotlights the future, Tuesday (September 17) deals with materials and making is the topic for next Wednesday (September 18) — London’s queen of knits, Donna Wilson, will add your efforts to her 10th birthday show in Leonard Street, EC2 (

Design for foodies
Foodies have discovered design — it had to happen. Cafés at the big shows sport adventurous décor, and there are earnest discussions on the future of food. Sip micro-filtered instant hot water from a new dome-shaped Quooker tap in a free cuppa from Nick Munro’s Super Brands Geezer bar, and admire Munro’s exquisite chinaware at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, E1 (

Model buildings
Buildings shrunk to models are hot collectibles – see Chisel & Mouse at Tent, who use carving and moulds, plus 3D printing ( Domus, the tile company, are showing 20 dolls houses by top architects and artists (including Zaha Hadid and David Adjaye) at a new W1 showroom (23-25 Eastcastle Street; The houses will be auctioned for the charity KIDS. Also see mini-beach huts at Great Western Studios.

Talent spotting
New grads are everywhere, often in group shows, savvy and assured and , selling their work. Nurturing new designers is 100% Design, featuring Central Saint Martins, The Design Council, New Designers, the RSA, Talenthouse, the Design Guild Mark and the Lighting Industry Association.

Award-winning blogger Katie Treggiden ( has assembled eight top grads from the UK at Tent London. Plus one from Sweden - meet Thomas Gutmann and his Face-o-mat portrait machine – just stick your head in the box.

Nous is a new grad group from Kingston Uni also at Tent – (, Wilkes Street Gallery, free entry). And don’t miss the serious stuff at the RCA, at the Sustain show/awards in Kensington and “people-centred” design in Battersea.


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