The London Design Festival has inevitably shrunk in its scope and scale, but its heart is definitely still beating. This is the year to take in that intimate showroom, cutting-edge gallery or district that there ordinarily wouldn't be time for – or explore the wealth of virtual content delivering the festival to our homes
Paul Cocksedge: Slump
10 September-18 December, weekdays 10am-6pm. Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 4 Albermarle Street, London W1S 4GA
At last year’s London Design Festival, Paul Cocksedge filled Broadgate’s Finsbury Avenue Square with an enormous seating installation consisting of concentric circles of undulating scaffolding planks. This year he tackles the more rarefied surroundings of the gallery, with his own show at Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Sump is a series of eight tables, with glass tops laid over bases of various different materials, from timber to rock. The bases protrude up through the glass looking as if they are preserved under ice, or else the glass drapes like a protective blanket over the base: a simple idea that belies the considerable technical achievement behind it.
12-20 September, Monday-Saturday 10.30am-6.30pm (7.30pm Thursdays). Mint, 2 North Terrace, London SW3 2BA
Mint’s LDF show is named after the blurred-light effect of the camera lens: an out-of-focus background leads our attention to what’s really important, a metaphor for the reflection and re-evaluation that has occurred in the face of recent global upheaval. The shop-cum-gallery has brought together a capsule collection where each designer has rethought their approach to the design process, from Kajsa Melchior’s spiky sand-cast furniture and lighting to Max Lipsey’s steel benches clad in Kvadrat canvas textiles. Material experimentation is an ongoing theme: look out for Carissa Ten Tije’s furniture made from the ash from incinerated rubbish and Jessie White’s bowls created by fusing leather and cork.
Tom Dixon: Octagon
12-20 September, Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 11am-5pm. The Coal Office, 1 Bagley Walk, London N1C 4PQ
Tom Dixon’s work is so multifaceted now – from home fragrance to barware to the lighting and furniture that he’s best-known for – that he’s presenting an eight-sided view of his portfolio for LDF. Various areas of his Coal Office HQ in King’s Cross will have a different focus: sup cocktails from Puck glasses at the Coal Drop bar or relax in a lounge filled with Fat furniture and illuminated by a lighting system by Austria’s Prolicht. A stalwart in the collections of design museums worldwide, the S Chair celebrates its 30th birthday, and gets its own dedicated space, with various iterations on show including a new leather-upholstered version by Bill Amberg.
Speaking to Trees
12-20 September, Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 12noon-4pm. Ruup & Form, 108 Heath Street, London NW3 1DR
Whereas Mint’s show (above) explores a wealth of unusual materials, Ruup & Form has narrowed its gaze to just one. The Hampstead craft and design gallery’s Speaking to Trees show is a celebration of timber and the many ways it can be manipulated in the hands of talented makers. Exhibitors include Robert George, whose delicate Concentrica vessels were inspired by the shape of a species of fungi forming on dead wood and Hannah Lobley’s sculptural objects made from lathe-turned stacked paper and timber.
12 September until the end of 2021. International Quarter London, Redman Place, London E20 1JQ
Studio Weave is at the helm of the festival’s Landmark Project, sited at at new Stratford neighbourhood on the fringes of Queen Elizabeth Park. The long-term-temporary structure (currently slated to be in situ until the end of 2021) is a modern interpretation of a Victorian glasshouse. Inside, garden designer Tom Msssey has brought together an array of plants that currently thrive under glass – including guava, avocado and pomegranate – but that could potentially be grown outside in the UK by 2050, thanks to the changing climate. Studio Weave’s elegant arched structure pays homage to the horticultural history of the Lee Valley, which once boasted a 20-mile stretch of greenhouses growing food crops.
Virtual Design Destination by Adorno
Online at www.virtualdesigndestination.com
In a normal year, online platform Adorno’s country-curated collections at the London Design Fair are an LDF highlight, cherrypicking cutting-edge design from around the world. With the fair postponed, Adorno has made its show entirely virtual this year, inviting individual curators to collate work from 14 countries, including Spain, Norway, Estonia and Poland: everything will be shown in immersive 3D environments, with one collection at a time given a special focus on the website. Curators are encouraged to think thematically: Lithuania’s Race With Nature collection focuses on the competition between humans and nature, while Iceland’s collection is titled Atunement, and gives a platform to native designers who are using otherwise disregarded resources.
Online only 13 September and then trade-only visits and online 14-18 September. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, London SW10 0XE
Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour’s event is the last traditional show left standing, and has pivoted to become trade-only in the interests of keeping control of numbers. Many international events having fallen by the wayside over the last six months, Focus/20 is the first chance to see those collections that would have launched in Milan, Paris or New York, including Pierre Frey’s new furniture by Lebanese designers David/Nicolas, inspired by the mid-century ocean liners designed by René Prou, and the 2020 collections of Italian brands such as Porada and Gallotti&Radice. If you’re not in the trade, you won’t be left out in the cold: an extensive online programme includes virtual launches in the showrooms and talks with luminaries such as Peter Marino and Adjaye Associates’ Lucy Tilley.
Shoreditch Design Triangle
12-20 September. Various venues
Billed as a “catalyst for renewal,” Shoreditch’s offering is a hybrid of physical and digital experiences. On the physical side, Established & Sons is presenting new designs by Sabine Marcelis, Pauline Deltour and Jasper Morrison while Hoxton gallery Peer is dedicating itself to the work of sculptor Kathy MacCarthy. Design showroom SCP has several new launches to trumpet in a show called One Room Living, including exclusive extruded ceramic pieces by Floris Wubben, a sofa by Daniel Schofield (previewed in this Design Anthology UK Q&A with the designer) and an upholstered armchair and terracotta stool from Philippe Malouin.
Ways of Seeing
12 September-31 October, Monday-Saturday 11am–6pm by appointment. The New Craftsmen, 34 North Row, London W1K 6DG
The New Craftsmen is hooking up with interior designers with very different aesthetics, to see how they interpret work from the esteemed craft gallery. Maria Speake, founder of Retrouvius, Emma Burns, senior design director at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, and Sasha von Meister and Tom Bartlett, directors of Waldo Works, are the designers in question: they have developed individual room schemes that highlight new pieces in the collection, which will be on show in the gallery and also interpreted by illustrator Caroline Aitken. Objects that will be featured include SASA Works’ Alter cabinet, which was inspired by a large ancient cabinet housed in a rock cut church in Ethiopia; and block-printed textiles by Louisa Loakes.