From a single trade show held in the uninspiring surroundings of Kensington Olympia, the London Design Festival has evolved into a citywide extravaganza that has captured the imagination of locals and visitors.
Now in its 15th year and as big as London Fashion Week, a blockbuster edition of 500+ events over nine days (September 16-24) will tempt tourists away from the capital’s more conventional attractions for a glimpse into the future.
If you’re in the vicinity of Liverpool Street Station this September, look out for a bunch of city suits letting their hair down in an inflatable ‘playground for adults’ during their lunch break.
The psychedelic installation is this year’s Landmark Project at the London Design Festival, designed by tribal pop artist Camille Walala to help executives de-stress in their downtime.
It will be positioned outside the station at Broadgate Circus, a grey concrete space which will live up to its name as 30,000 office workers take turns at working out their angst on puffed-up vinyl in Liquorice Allsorts shapes and colours.
But Villa Walala is more than ‘a light-hearted antidote to the straight-laced busy City, injecting a sense of playfulness into just another day at the office’, as the artist describes it.
It showcases the latest fabrics and digital printing techniques; it promotes the cutting-edge talents of an exciting British designer; and it gives exposure to the festival’s headline sponsor, British Land, one of Europe’s largest real estate investment companies which promotes human-friendly environments under the slogan Places People Prefer.
The ‘Landmark Projects’ – temporary, landscape-changing structures created by some of the most celebrated designers and sponsored by British Land since 2007 – have become the Festival’s emblem.
Last year’s smile-shaped bridge and the giant mobile chess pieces that checker-boarded Trafalgar Square in 2009 were images shared on social media around the world.
And who can forget Tom Dixon’s 2006 installation, Great Chair Grab, which made the Six o’ Clock news? The British designer filled Trafalgar Square with 500 of his polystyrene chairs to give away gratis and the mob who turned up to claim their free collectible nearly caused a riot…
Words Belinda Beckett
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