Returning to the capital for its 20th year, the London Design Festival, which runs from 17 – 25 September 2022, is a dazzling celebration of contemporary design which sees hundreds of creative events, exhibitions, workshops and talks popping up across the city. The added bonus? It’s mostly free, with its Chairman Sir John Sorrell saying the festival was founded to be ‘public spirited’. From outdoor installations and buzzy landmark projects to exciting new shows and design districts, these are the must-see highlights at the London Design Festival 2022.
As the beating heart of the London Design Festival, the V&A will once again showcase a collection of specially commissioned projects and displays, all themed this year around the idea of transformation. Head straight for R for Repair, which will see designers from the UK and Singapore fixing broken objects in imaginative ways, prompting us to reconsider the creative possibilities of cross-cultural exchange.
Then, pay a visit to the John Madejski Garden for a live glass-blowing performance by Canadian artist Omer Arbel before scoping out The Lebanese House: Saving a home, Saving a city, an evolving installation by Annabel Karim Kassar that explores the reconstruction of Beirut after the 2020 explosion.
Other notable highlights include Niccolo Casas’s Plasticity, a 3D-printed sculpture which explores ways of turning harmful sea waste into new objects; and Whale in the Room, an animated film that imagines what would happen if Hope – the loveable blue whale skeleton in the Natural History Museum – came alive and demanded climate action.
Bankside Design District
Relaunched for 2022 are the Pimlico Road Design District and the Bankside Design District, taking the total number of festival Design Districts up to 12. Each district has its own unique personality, which reflects the local community, and boasts a rich programme of creative and cultural events, all within a short walking distance from each other.
Of all the special projects on show in the Bankside Design District, we’re most excited to see The Hope Exchange, a hand-painted public artwork made by Better Bankside in collaboration with The Fandangoe Kid Studios. Installed on the existing Hope Exchange Triangle, it celebrates the LGBTQ+ community in London and beyond.
‘The pink triangle used here in the Hope Exchange, is both a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s strength and unity while reminding us all of the struggle to get here – a nod to a hopeful future, minds open,’ says Annie Fandangoe.
While you’re in the area, make sure to check out Patrick Nash’s interactive neon figures and the design showcase at Oxo Tower Wharf, featuring over 25 design-maker open studios. Not to be missed is Material Matters, a new design fair inspired by the eponymous podcast with installations, a marketplace and an extensive talks programme.
The Hope Exchange, 42, Southwark Street, Southwark, London SE1 1UN
One of the festival’s two landmark projects, Into Sight explores notions of perceived reality through shifting light, colour and sound. As you venture further inside the life-sized installation, you’ll soon notice that the audio-visual elements respond to your movements. Presented by Sony Design, it aims to capture new insights at the intersection of physical and meta realities. Perfect if you’ve got kids in tow.
Pavilion Gallery, 4 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London SW7 2JE
Swivel by Sabine Marcelis
Over at St Giles Square, a vibrant new public space beside Tottenham Court Road, you’ll find London Design Festival’s other landmark project: Swivel. Conceived by Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis and supported by Almacantar, it comprises ten swivelling seats made from contrasting stones and marbles sourced from Europe, the Middle East and Brazil.
Set against the brutalist backdrop of Centre Point, it encourages people to stop, reflect and experience the space in their own unique way. ‘This project, as with most of my work, is a celebration of materials,’ explains Marcelis. ‘It could encourage strangers to interact with each other, for friends to sit together or even allow people to create a moment of pause for themselves.’
Centre Point, St Giles Square, West End, London WC2H 8NH
Yinka Ilori: Parables of Happiness
Yinka Ilori is having a moment. The artist is the creative brains behind many of the UK’s large-scale, colour-popping installations, from the Lego launderette in east London to the labyrinthine play area at the V&A Dundee. Now he’s the subject of a new solo show at the Design Museum. Visit for a chance to immerse yourself in his colourful style and explore the influences that have shaped his distinctive vision, from British postmodernism to the African fabrics of his childhood.
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 6AG
Returning to Magazine London in North Greenwich is Design London (21-24 September), the longest running design trade show in the UK. Championing the very best contemporary design, it brings together established and emerging brands from around the world, as well as experiential installations, launch events, exclusive collaborations and a curated selection of international pavilions.
Running alongside the event is the second edition of Discussions at Design London, the fair’s comprehensive talks programme covering everything from future trends to sustainable design. Stay tuned for the headline speakers.
Magazine London, 11 Ordnance Crescent, Greenwich, London SE10 0JH
Produced by LSI Stone, Stanton Williams and Webb Yates in collaboration with experimentadesign, this year’s festival commission takes the form of a circular gathering space that invites visitors to engage with it creatively, whether that be through music, performance, art or poetry. Made from 150-million-year-old Jurassic limestone and marble, and inspired by the Neolithic stone structures that ‘create a space separate from the outside world’, Henge will feature a sound installation to encourage spontaneous performances, as well as ample space for contemplation and relaxation.
Afterwards, make tracks for NOW Gallery, also in Greenwich Peninsula, to catch Bibi Ahmed’s pop-up installation featuring her colourful beaded corsets, hats and accessories. Then wander along The Tide, where you’ll encounter large-scale public art sculptures by the likes of Felipe Pantone, Anthony Gormley and Damien Hirst.
Henge at Canary Wharf, Wren Landing, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QJ
Martyn Thompson at the Jo Malone London Townhouse
For one week only, the Jo Malone London Townhouse will host an exhibition of new works by multidisciplinary artist Martyn Thompson. The exhibition will feature a selection of layered photographs, as well as jacquard textile screens and painted ceramics, all shown alongside home scents from Jo Malone’s Design Edition collection conceived in collaboration with Thompson.
52 Gloucester Place, Marylebone, London W1U 8HQ
Meet Me in the Metaverse
Landing at the Conran Shop is Meet Me in the Metaverse, an immersive installation showcasing the brand’s AW22 collection visualised in a new digital realm. Curated in collaboration with It’s Nice That, it will bring together six established and emerging digital artists, including the New Delhi-based Khyati Trehan and VR sculpting duo YONK, who will each explore the space between the digital and the physical through innovative design ideas.
Expect to see signature Conran items such as a mid-century lounge chair or modular sofa alongside pieces conceptually reimagined by the artists involved. It will no doubt prompt thought-provoking discussions about the role of design today — and in the future.
The Conran Shop, Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London SW3 6RD
Sketch returns to the festival after a two-year hiatus with new commissions by Bethan Gray, Moritz Waldemeyer and Tannaz Oroumchi that respond to the architecture of the restaurant.
Gray will wow visitors upon entry with her signature blue and white stripes, while Waldemeyer’s flickering LED chandelier will transform the Glade into a glittering haven. Exhibited around the upstairs pods will be over 50 large-scale architectural drawings by Oroumchi depicting London, Paris, Istanbul and New York.