London Design Festival 2016:the main themes and buzzing design districts

London Design Festival is now in full swing around London. Here's what to watch out for...

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You’ve got until Sunday to catch the last few days of the London Design Festival, which opened on Saturday and is in full swing across the city, from Hackney and Shoreditch, to Brixton and Deptford. 

The big trade shows open today and tomorrow — check out these “design destinations” at You can only get in at certain times and you may have to pay. 

But the multiple showrooms in Chelsea are open free for the Focus furnishing show tomorrow and Friday, with a great programme of talks and tours — visit for more. Here are this year’s themes.

Out For Space is inspired by nature, traditional crafts and new technologies, ()

A better world

Amid a plethora of product launches and pop-up shops, the festival tackles serious issues. The Building Centre in Store Street, WC1, is responding to the revelation that the construction industry produces three times more waste than UK households, half of which is not recycled. 

The solution could be the “circular economy”, as admirably explained in this show. Here is an ambitious strategy to minimise waste and feed it back into manufacturing. Visit for more.

Implementing this radical rethink is Bloomberg, in Finsbury Square, EC2. Scattered around its lavish European HQ, designed by Norman Foster, are products made entirely out of the business news company’s waste. Materials recycled by a list of international designers include 2,000 metres of cable flex, 76 keyboards, 160 holographic screen sheets, 250 printer cartridges and 33 wooden pallets. Take a tour on Saturday (noon to 3pm;

Dyslexia gets star treatment at designjunction in Granary Square, King’s Cross from tomorrow until Sunday, when an impressive coterie of designers reveal that they, along with about 10 per cent of the population, are dyslexic. There will be a panel discussion on Saturday at 5pm ( 

At Somerset House in Strand, 37 countries present visions of Utopia at the London Design Biennale. 

Don’t miss installations by Russia and India, and Spain’s stunning 3D “virtual reality” vision of a future world. In Ecotopia, a multi-sensory installation in Cromwell Place, South Kensington, designers and illustrators grapple with climate change ( 

A show at Case Furniture in SW18 has Architects’ Visions for London expressed in wonderful models, which reveal “the emotion of buildings”, says Case director Paul Newman ( 

The United Nations published 17 international goals a year ago for sustainable development — “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all”. So how can design help? At Designersblock on the South Bank, explore the  projects that can make a difference (

Waste not

As natural resources diminish, could new sustainable materials be made from what we throw away — like the bees’ waste in a bio-resin at Mint in South Kensington ( Or the washed-up marine plastic in the Australian pavilion at Somerset House? 

In a show in Brompton design district, an attractive terracotta-like material comes from cow dung — its Italian inventor calls this “merdecotta” ( Old materials hold their own: witness granite chairs fashioned by Max Lamb at London Design Fair, and the Wooden Matters seminars running today until Saturday in Walthamstow. Visit

Think global

The festival is exuberantly global, a robust riposte to post-Brexit negativity. About 96 per cent of the design industry voted to stay in the EU, and now a “manifesto” voicing their group concerns has been formulated by the web magazine 

Find 12 country pavilions and exhibitors from 36 countries at London Design Fair, E1, where director Jimmy MacDonald is typically upbeat: “London is global now — no one can take that away.”

Sir John Sorrell, festival co-founder and chairman, loves London’s multicultural design community, and designers in large group shows like the intriguing 

Electrocraft at Studio Tord Boontje in EC2 are a marvellous mix of multinationals, who have chosen London as their base. Visit for more.

Londoner Camille Walala  will be showcasing “tribal pop”


Pattern is the festival’s happy face. It pops up everywhere, even on a zebra crossing. There’s something for every home, from well-mannered geometric weaves, to decorated chinaware and huge digital prints. 

Londoner Camille Walala does “tribal pop”, a melange of vivid circles, squares and squiggles. 

She’s transformed a crossing in Southwark Street SE1, and is doing rugs at designjunction with Floor Story. She’s also decorated the Clerkenwell London shop/café in Farringdon Road — worth a visit for a spread of design events including Granby Workshop furniture, textiles and accessories by the Turner Prize-winning collective, Assemble. 

The artists who’ve come to London from St Judes in Norwich are showing exquisitely detailed wood engravings and lino cuts by Angie Lewin, Mark Hearld and Emily Sutton printed on to papers and fabrics, bringing the countryside to an historic Spitalfields weaver’s house in Fournier Street (

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