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London Design Festival 2022 Preview

London, UK

Taking place from 17-25 September, this year’s LDF is the 20th edition of this city-wide celebration of design. Whether objects made from waste materials, beautifully crafted furniture or live demonstrations of exploding glass are your thing, you’ll find something to be inspired by, with the below highlights all worth checking out. Events on Monday 19 September may be subject to change because of the state funeral of HM The Queen – check with venues to be sure

The Gathering Hand

17-25 September (except Monday 19 September), 10.30am-1.30pm and 2pm-6.30pm. Blue Mountain School, 9 Chance Street, London E2 7JB

Edinburgh architecture practice Gras has brought together the talents of a number of small makers to launch a collection of pared-back furniture and objects. “Our intention was to distil and communicate the value of physical creation: the use of both hand and mind to explore the potential of material and form,” says Gras’ product design engineer Alistair Byars. Highlights include a family of tables with smoked-oak bases made by Namon Gaston and cork tops by Studio Corkinho, and crackled glass vessels by Cambridge-based Edmond Byrne. The artisan nature of the collection is a good fit for Blue Mountain School, the venue hosting the launch, a temple to arty, minimalist retail in the heart of Shoreditch.

Material Matters

22-25 September, Thursday-Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sunday 11am-4pm. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 9PH

Design writer Grant Gibson’s Material Matters podcast extends its reach with this new show at Oxo Tower Wharf’s Bargehouse. As the name suggests, it hones in on the importance of materials, particularly in the context of craft and smaller makers, with waste reuse and circular design as a further focus. Various narrative threads are woven together to tell the story: installations by Stuart Haygarth, and textile artist Beatrice Mayfield from Ruup & Form gallery; the shortlist of the Wood Awards, accompanied by a series of lunchtime talks; and a host of other designers, makers and manufacturers, from Smile Plastics’ solid surfaces made from waste plastic to Alkesh Parmar’s lighting made from orange peel, left over from industrial juice processing.




Now and the Future

16-17 and 20-24 September, weekdays 10am-6pm, Saturdays 10.30am-4pm. Viaduct Furniture, 1-10 Summers Street, London EC1R 5BD

Clerkenwell design showroom Viaduct was the first place in the UK to show the work of Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen in 2013, so it’s fitting that this look back at the Belgian design duo’s history should be located here. Muller van Severen started life as an experimental creative collaboration for Antwerp’s Valerie Traan Gallery, with the pair going on to design several pieces for the gallery’s commercial product-design arm, Valerie Objects, including a series of slung-leather and tubular steel chairs as well as rugs for CC Tapis and, most recently, some colourful Valchromat cabinets for Hay. Viaduct’s retrospective will explore the pair’s playful, colourful, elegant minimalism.


From 17 September, 11am-6pm (closed Sunday). The New Craftsmen, 34 North Row, London W1K 6DG

The New Craftsmen’s London Design Festival show started life when creative director Catherine Lock invited 15 craftspeople on a Thames mudlarking trip in the company of  archaeologist Mike Webber. Inspired by the pottery and small objects they found, the makers have developed new work that will be on show at the Mayfair gallery, connecting history and the present day. The results are impressively diverse: ceramicist Matthew Foster has developed a series of 20 pieces including platters, jugs and lidded vessels, inspired by medieval and Tudor feasts; artist Emma Witter has made chandeliers from electroplated oyster shells and Thames bone, turned into bone china; and Bibbings & Hensby are making a Welsh dresser in response to finding hand-forged nails on the foreshore.


First Impression: Elevating the Everyday

17-25 September, weekdays 10am-7pm, weekends noon-5pm. Charles Burnand Gallery, 27 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2SE

In the UN’s Year of Glass, it’s fitting that Fitzrovia’s Charles Burnand Gallery should focus on this most seductive and chameleon-like of materials. The group show celebrates glass as a subject for collectible art and design, with boundary-pushing work full of colour, sculptural form and luminous light. This is the place to take in both the work of established names, such as Max Jacquard, winner of the 2016 Glass Biennale, and Fredrik Nielsen, recently shortlisted for the Loewe International Craft Prize; and be the first to talent-spot tomorrow’s glass superstars – several of those taking part are recent graduates from the Royal College of Art.

Vitra x Tramshed

From 21 September, weekdays 9am-6pm, weekends 10am-5pm. Vitra, Tramshed, 32 Rivington St, London EC2A 3LX

When Mark Hix’s Damien-Hirst-adorned restaurant, Tramshed, closed in summer 2021, it left Shoreditch devotees to wonder: what’s next? The answer has come from design giant Vitra, which is taking over the cavernous space (not actually a tramshed, but an early-20th century electricity substation) as its flagship London showroom. The big opening coincides with a big name: the work of Jean Prouvé will be a particular focus, with an installation featuring the French designer’s work plus new iterations including a limited edition of the Fauteuil Kangourou chair, designed in 1948. 

Jan Hendzel at Town Hall Hotel

20 September, 8am-11am. Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, London E2 9NF

Jan Hendzel Studio has reimagined the design of two apartments for the Grade II-listed Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green. Hendzel has crafted a new collection of monolithic furniture in oak, ash, pine and London plane, that shows both the hand of the maker and the beauty of the timber, alongside many smaller details, from the alcove housing the television to the unexpected curves found when you open up a drawer. Drop in on the morning of 20 September to see the results; the collaboration is the first in a series, in which the hotel will invite creatives to stamp their mark on its suites.

Material Experiments

17-25 September, 10am-5.45pm. Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Best known for his lighting brand, Bocci, whose cascading glass lights adorn high-end homes, offices and hospitality spaces round the world, Omer Arbel is also a prolific independent designer, overseeing a Vancouver-based studio. He has undertaken a series of ‘performances’ of making, of which this stint at the V&A is one: across nine days, glassblowers will be making a series of his 113 sculptures, whose manufacturing technique sounds appropriately dramatic: once the glass form is blown, liquid copper is poured in and the glass shatters as the piece cools, leaving a “metallic shadow”. The museum’s John Madejski Garden will turn into a glassblowing studio for the duration, and the finished pieces will be ceremonially carried to the V&A’s Santa Chiara Chapel for display.

Hand in Hand: Making in the Modern Age

17-27 September (except Monday 19 September), 10am-6pm. Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London W1K 1HF

The reinvention of traditional craft skills is one of the most compelling narratives driving design today, and new online platform Curio aims to be at the forefront of the story. Coinciding with the website’s launch is this physical show that will give a taste of what’s to come. The roster of new and established makers work across many disciplines, but all are reinvigorating and reinventing heritage craft skills: look out for Jan Waterston’s sinuous Velo chair in an ombré-effect fumed finish, and New Delhi’s Vikram and Divya Goyal of Viya Home, whose bespoke furniture and objects include incredibly intricate brass screens inspired by old botanical drawings and incorporating semi-precious stone.

The Wonder Room

17 & 19-24 September, weekdays noon-6pm and Saturdays 10am-7pm. Achille Salvagni Atelier, 1a Grafton Street, London W1S 4FE

Mayfair gallery Achille Salvagni Atelier has teamed up with designer Toyine Sellers for a collaboration that shows the inspiration behind their designs as well as finished pieces. Sellers is a South African born textile designer while architect and designer Salvagni is known for a studied sense of luxury; the show will take a look behind the curtain at their creative processes, with natural objects such as a set of stones and Italian antiquities among the items to have provided a starting point for their work. The pair’s work comes together with a pair of Salvagni’s Tutankhamun chairs upholstered in one of Sellers’ textiles.

Almost Instinct

17-25 September, weekdays 9.30am-7pm, Saturdays 9.30am-6pm, Sundays 11am-5pm. SCP, 135 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3BX

Design showroom SCP is the glue that holds the Shoreditch Design Triangle together, with a number of new launches and shows to be explored, under the umbrella name Almost Instinct. Alongside new pieces by Ilse Crawford & Oscar Peña, Matthew Hilton and Philippe Malouin, there’s Of Nature, a series of four chair designs by Wilkinson & Rivera that each explore four woodworking techniques – steam-bending, hand turning, carving, and hand-cut joinery – which look like a progression from the rustic to the refined. Meanwhile, the One Tree project saw SCP founder Sheridan Coakley invite designers such as Sebastian Cox and Peter Marigold to make objects from a dying ash tree from his garden.

Inside Norway Design Trail

Various venues

The Norwegian Design Industry is mounting a series of events across LDF to promote Norway’s place in global design. The brands taking part are diverse, but held together by shared values, including a strong connection to nature and a spirit of innovation. Furniture company Fora Form and aluminium manufacturer Hydro will be over at Material Matters (see above), while at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour’s Focus/22 show, four brands based within the showrooms there – Jensen Beds, Hadeland Glassverk, Lundhs Real Stone and Eikund – will host a talk (Tuesday 20 September, 5.45pm) at Hadeland that will discuss what’s driving the Norwegian design movement, alongside native food and drink and even a sleep expert from Jensen on hand to help you get a good night’s rest.