London Design Festival 2023: Programme Announced
First look at the London Design Festival 2023 programme and landmark projects, running city-wide from 16 to 24 September
The programme of London Design Festival 2023 has been announced by founder Ben Evans, with a rich programme of installations, exhibitions and events throughout the city (from 16 to 24 September). This year marks the design event's 21st edition, as always activating landmarks across London with special artistic interventions by international designers in collaboration with festival supporters the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
'The London Design Festival continues to provide an invaluable platform for the UK's design community,' says Evans. 'Over the past two decades, the festival has cemented London's reputation as a global creative capital while supporting designers at every level of their careers. This year's programme promises fresh perspectives and boundary-pushing ideas that will inspire audiences.'
'The London Design Festival (...) celebrates the design excellence and talent of our creative community and showcases London’s position as a global design capital,' adds Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, London. 'The creative industries are playing a pivotal role in our economic recovery, bringing together people from all backgrounds and supporting young and emerging creative talent as we build a better London for everyone.'
London Design Festival 2023: Wren 300 Landmark Projects
Sound spectrum of St Paul’s choir singing evensong. Aura, Pablo Valbuena, 2023. (Image credit: Courtesy London Design Festival)
Among the newly-announced projects is a series of activations around St Paul's Cathedral, to mark the 300th anniversary of Sir Christopher Wren’s death. Dubbed Wren 300, the programme delves into the architect's vision: the festival, in conjunction with Bloomberg Philanthropies, has enlisted contemporary designers to explore his legacy.
Cross-section of St Paul's Cathedral with Aura, Pablo Valbuena, 2023. (Image credit: Courtesy London Design Festival)
At St Paul's Cathedral, Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena presents a specially commissioned body of work titled Aura. The installation explores the contemporary meaning of a temple and the role of light and sound in creating contemporary rituals. Conceived as a light installation, the intervention will be defined by pulsating light reflecting the cathedral's sounds. 'Aura listens to the sound, voices and music generated in St Paul’s and materialises them into a spectral, three-dimensional aura that enhances the ritual aspects of this space,' reads a note accompanying the announcement.
Meanwhile, at St Stephen Walbrook Church (39 Walbrook, EC4N), Moritz Waldemeyer of Studio Waldemeyer presents Halo, an installation defined by a pendulum circling Henry Moore's altar with a trajectory informed by planetary movements and creating a halo around the marble piece. The installation is completed by chromatic transitions that reflect natural phenomena including aurora borealis, adding a sense of meditative calm to the space.
London Design Festival Commissions and Special Projects
(Image credit: Courtesy London Design Festival)
London-based designer and artist Simone Brewster worked with Portuguese cork specialist Amorim on Spirit of Place, an installation on The Strand featuring a family of sculptural vessels 2.5m tall representing the company's cork forests in Portugal. 'The future of the forest is secured by four key traits: drought resistance, fungal resistance, upright expression, and fast voluminous growth,' continues the project announcement. 'These four characteristics act as the foundation for the visual language of the piece, with Brewster translating each factor into a visual equivalent that can then be experienced and enjoyed in the centre of London.'
Other festival commissions activating some of the city's key locations include the Rubin Museum’s Mandala Lab in Canary Wharf, an interactive space that explores how challenging emotions can be transformed into wisdom.
At the V&A, a traditional destination for London Design Festival, visitors can experience an installation by Andu Masebo – this year’s V&A Emerging Designer commission – whose Part exchange project explores the story of a scrapped Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf through a series of domestic objects.
Design Districts and Fairs
Smile Plastics, part of Material Matters' showcase. (Image credit: Courtesy Material Matters)
This year, the festival will spread across the city with 12 Design Districts, including Bankside, Brompton, Greenwich Peninsula, Islington, Kings Cross, Mayfair, Park Royal, Shoreditch Design Triangle and Southwark, with new locations including the Dalston to Stokey Design District, Battersea, Chelsea and Fitzrovia.
This year, the annual London Design Fair (21 – 24 September) returns to Shoreditch's Truman Brewery, while Material Matters (20 – 23 September) will take place once again at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf.