Best of London

From Brompton Design District to Sir John Soane’s Museum. New collections, urban installations, collective exhibitions: our unmissable events from London Design Festival 2017.

The 2017 edition of the London Design Festival has closed. In the last 15 years the British event has presented more than 20,000 projects, counting exhibitions, events and themed encounters. Over time it has revealed a vocation increasingly bound up with the themes of research design. Scientific experiments, large installations capable of reinventing urban space, collectors’ items and developing projects: there has been no shortage of new ideas.

 

In this respect, Brompton Design District was particularly sparkling this year. A programme of pop-up exhibitions curated by Jane Withers brought together emerging designers and well-known names in the attempt – in some cases highly successful – to “add meaning and value to our everyday lives”. In the rooms of the Victorian houses on Cromwell Place, designed to become galleries and cultural spaces in the near future, Martino Gamper presented his new collection of wooden furniture, Round & Square. “They’re all pieces we can craft in-house, at my Hackney studio. So they can be personalised,” explains the designer. The project turns on a special wood joint, a clear symbol of Gamper’s passion for hand-crafting furniture.

The Trade Show presented by Faye Toogood for London Design Festival 2017, exhibition view
The Trade Show presented by Faye Toogood for London Design Festival 2017, exhibition view
Just a few steps away, another Italian name achieved great success with an installation as simple as it is beautiful: Practice Practice Practice from Zaven studio pays homage to Nino Caruso, artist and political activist in Italy. This work plays on themes of scale and repetition, as Withers points out. It explores the potential of ceramic in a completely unexpected way and enables us to think of this much discussed material from a new angle. Close by is Okolo ’s Objects of Refinement, a photographic atlas created over ten years by Adam Štěch, which brings details of architectures and interiors from 1900 to 1990. Then there was the big group event The Trade Show by Faye Toogood , occupying two floors of an old garage. Present were over fifty more or less well-known artists and designers, from Goshka Macuga to Francis Upritchard , Fernando Laposse , Marcin Rusak , and Arabeschi di Latte . In a rarefied ambiance, fragrant with incense sticks, the exhibition in Toogood style recounted an important part of the current London scene.
Adam Nathaniel Furman, Gateways, in collaboration with Turkishceramics for designjunction. Photo Gareth Gardner
Adam Nathaniel Furman, Gateways, in collaboration with Turkishceramics for designjunction. Photo Gareth Gardner
A special mention goes to Adam Nathaniel Furman’s project The Roman Singularity. In the impressive setting of Sir John Soane’s Museum, Rome became an imaginative vision embodied in colourful ceramic models made by 3D printing and artisanal techniques, with a hypnotic video and psychedelic prints: irreverent souvenirs not in the least overawed by the Eternal City’s grandeur (on show until December 10, 2017). Colour research is one of the key factors in Furman’s work as co-director of Saturated Space, the Colour Research Cluster of the Architectural Association School of Architecture. His polychrome ceramic Gateways, installed in Granary Square for Designjunction and created in collaboration with Turkishceramics, were dismantled a day later than planned at the request of enthusiastic visitors.

 

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