Max Fraser: my design London

Author and deputy director of the London Design Festival, Max Fraser, reveals his favourite London architecture, new designers and his must-see installation at the 2013 Design Festival.
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The London Design Festival runs from September 14-22 ( The London Design Guide, £12 at

Max Fraser: London Design Festival
© John Lawrence
Max Fraser has written eight design books and is now the deputy director of the London Design Festival
At 33, Max Fraser has written eight design books, including three editions of the self-published London Design Guide (the first in 2009, and the third just out). In 2012 he began his first "proper job" as deputy director of the London Design Festival, which starts in September. Brought up in Hampstead, Fraser did a one-year foundation course at Chelsea College of Art and Design, dropped out, went travelling, then had his first big idea — a shops guide to Britain called DESIGNUK, published in 2001. He then ditched college (furniture design) a second time for more travelling/writing, including a book of design interviews co-authored with Terence Conran.

Why I love London
I love coming home to London. It's my city, one of the greatest in the world. It's a tapestry of architecture spanning centuries. But London's so huge and constantly evolving, there's always so much more to discover.

Our home
It's a small Islington flat, part of a Georgian mansion block, shared with my wife, Hannah. We love the high ceilings and large windows. I'm obsessed with natural light. I can't handle dark Victorian spaces. We have white walls, dark-stained floorboards and bits of contemporary design in muted tones. I love home because it's a place for silence.

I also like Hampstead Heath, Lincoln's Inn Fields, the Regent's Canal and Camley Street Natural Park, just a spitting distance from King's Cross.

Our garden
It's massive and communal but no one else is interested, so we're making an urban jungle. Gardening is so therapeutic in London. We planted two strawberry plants a few years ago, now we have loads. Our raspberries give us a good crop, too. We've also grown tomatoes, lettuce, beans, beetroot, radishes, spinach, chard and cavolo nero.

Best London design area
Shoreditch. Moving upmarket but still gritty. SCP ( design shop's been there for 25 years but the real changes are in the past 10, with bigger brands and hotels. The Shoreditch design triangle ( is a special programme for the festival.

Design capital
London, of course. The festival was the first of its kind, and now we're 11 years old, with 300 events.

Max Fraser: London Design Festival
Endless Stairs is Max's must-see at the London Design Festival 2013. Visit from September 13 to October 10

My festival must-see
Endless Stair, outside Tate Modern, is a huge sculpture you can climb — interlocking wooden staircases that don't go anywhere but give you amazing views. It's in a pale yellowy, cross-laminated wood called Tulip Tree, incredibly light and strong, and it can be taken to pieces later. It's designed by Alex de Rijke, director of London's DRMM Architects. Visit from September 13 to October 10, from dawn to dusk.

Favourite design shop
Jasper Morrison ( in Shoreditch. His studio in Kingsland Road is almost anti-retail. Simple design, no hype. I also like hidden-away Mint ( in South Kensington, full of global design gems. A recent design buy is Jasper's Lo-Pad chair at twentytwentyone ( in Islington, another favourite shop.

Max Fraser: London Design Festival
Max loves the functional champagne flutes and lighting by Londoner Michael Anastassiades

My most-wanted item
Champagne flutes by Londoner Michael Anastassiades. And his lights, which are artworks.

Max Fraser: London Design Festival
Max is a fan of the copper mirror series by Oscar Narud and Amy Hunting

Tipped for the top
Oscar Narud and Amy Hunting (, launching their copper mirror series at Gallery Libby Sellers ( on September 5.

Max Fraser: London Design Festival
© Rebecca Reid
The Royal College of Physicians at Regent's park is one of Max's favourite buildings
My favourite building
Richard Rogers's Lloyd's building in the City and the Royal College of Physicians at Regent's Park by Sir Denys Lasdun. Plus, a walk down Fleet Street, which is a stunning architectural mishmash with Art Deco jewels.

Where I eat out
I like local places in Islington. Ottolenghi has healthy flavours, and Trullo is good for serious Italian. We eat in a lot and get meat from local Frank Godfrey, cheeses from La Fromagerie, fish from Steve Hatt and boxed vegetables from Riverford Farms. For lunch in Soho where I work, it's Koya for udon noodles, Barrafina for tapas and Fernandez & Wells for sandwiches.

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