London Design Festival 2016: The Highlights

The London Design Festival is an annual event, held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world and as a gateway to the international creative community. As the Festival draws to a close, Team Houseofthings gets cracking to bring you the striking highlights from the Festival’s landmark projects and newly minted design districts.

With hundreds of events, exhibitions and talks scheduled over a course of nine days across the English capital-from the Festival hub at the V& A, to the newly baptised London Design Fair in the East, and alongside the inaugural London Design Biennale, we've picked out five of the best installations from the event just for you, including a giant "wooden smile" and a slab of marble sculpted to look like a pool of water:


 Alison Brooks’ “The Smile” Installation

One of the landmark installations for this year's London Design Festival, "The Smile" is a 34-meter long, 3.5-meter high, rectangular tube that curves at both ends into a huge Cheshire cat grin. Constructed out of tulipwood, it is created by architect Alison Brooks, and despite the giant structure looking like it should start rocking at any minute, the piece is designed to be entirely motionless. Visitors can step inside the” weightless funnel of space” to discover an interior dappled with sunlight due to the perforations in the wooden walls, before it turns into a lantern-like structure come night. 

 Kaneko’s “All that is broken is not lost”


Ceramicist Reiko Kaneko celebrates the beauty of the broken at the Elementary Store for the London Design Festival. Resulting from a year spent refining her “reactive glaze” process, Kaneko restores broken pieces lost to the intense heat of kilns, using traditional Japanese technique of Kintsugi- the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer, dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The jagged edges, lack of symmetry and uneven contours tell a story of these objects, and draws attention to the provenance of all pieces - broken and unbroken, alike. 


Glithero’s Green Room, V & A



A monumental installation created by design studio Glithero in collaboration with luxury watch maker Panerai, fills one of the 17.5 meter drop stairwells with silicone cords, each of which are connected to a central rotating device. Emulating the circular motion of the arms of a clock, a wave of moving color can be experienced from multiple levels, aiming to change the perception of what a timepiece can be. 


Mathieu Lehanneur's Liquid Marble installation at the V&A


Sculpting a seascape from blocks of black marble, French multi-disciplinary designer Mathieu Lehanneur has created a realistic yet static representation of the ocean’s movement. Installed in the ornate Norfolk House Music Room of the V&A Museum as part of the London Design Festival 2016, this is one of the most beautiful and absorbing installations exploring the materiality of stone.

Lee Broom’s Opticality


A surreal, kaleidoscopic world in monochrome is Lee Broom’s Opticality. The British designer transformed his East London studio into a mirrored cove, decorated to reflect the post modernist Op-Art movement, a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. Walking onto a striped runway, visitors are transfixed by a maze of reflections pouring into infinity, emphasized by the dozens of hanging Optical pendants and floor lamps. 

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