London Design Festival bigger than ever

Festival has more than 400 installations and events and more international designers than ever before.

‘Curiosity Cloud’ by mischer’traxler for Champagne Perrier-Jouët [London Design Festival]
‘Curiosity Cloud’ by mischer’traxler for Champagne Perrier-Jouët [London Design Festival]

Even before their bags are checked by security guards visitors to the Victoria and Albert’s main hall will be confronted by an 18-metre high installation of colour and light. ”Zotem,” which sits in the museum’s grand entrance is the brainchild of Norwegian designer Kim Thome.

The black monolith is embedded with crystals that refract moving colours coming from behind the surface. The sides are open so visitors can see what’s going on; striped, coloured fabric with some panels of black and white loops through the tall structure.

”I wanted it exposed, not to hide anything,” Thome said. The installation – which will be in place through October – pulls the eye upward and into the gallery at the top where visitors can then look down onto Zotem.

Pop goes the world at London’s Tate Modern

It’s easy to miss a good portion of the V and A’s objects spread out over 51,000 square metres but designer Faye Toogood has come up with a grown-up gallery scavenger hunt to expose the more hidden rooms.

Toogood, a London-based furniture designer, has sculpted 10 coats and dotted them around the museum, where they react to the space around them. A marble coat in a marble hallway is so camouflaged it can nearly be missed. To ensure the sculptures aren’t overlooked Toogood has designed 150 ”navigational” coats made from high-tech compressed foam that visitors wear. A map sewn into the coats takes visitors to each installation.

Cloud of Curiosity

The best thing to see is the Cloud of Curiosity by mischer’traxler. It’s the first major work in London by the young Austrian design duo.

They’ve taken over the Victoria and Albert 18th-century music room: a baroque gold and mirrored room that in 1756 sat inside Norfolk House along London’s St James.

The room is filled with 265 mouth-blown glass bulbs hanging from the ceiling. As a visitor walks through, the installation reacts: the bulbs light up and tiny metal insects inside begin to flutter making a tinkling sound resonating throughout the room.

”We wanted to bring some sound back to the Music Room,” Thomas Traxler told me.

There are 25 species inside the bulbs: a third are extinct or endangered, a third are common to our gardens – like bees and butterflies, and a third are newly discovered.

”The insects flutter like they are scared or nervous,” explained Katharina Mischer. ”It’s a dialogue between us and the insects.”

The work has a dreamlike atmosphere.

”It mirrors nature: when you look at something but then get close they fly away,” Traxler said.

Another interesting piece is Tower of Babel by the artist Barnaby Barford.

The final product is a six-metre high colourful tower of tiny shops made from bone china. Each of the 3,000 tiny shops is no bigger than two mobile telephones. They are exact recreations of London shops, from the derelict ones at the bottom to the swanky ones at the top. Barford cycled more than 1,000 miles across the city photographing each of the shop fronts.

The tower will be on view through October but most of the other design festival installations will come down when the festival finishes on September 27.

More information about the London Design Festival is available online at:

Source : Al Jazeera


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