As summer turns to fall, so we turn the design diary to September and one of our favorite events: London’s annual Design Festival. Now in its 12th year, LDF has evolved to include not only the city’s flourishing design community, but a national and increasingly international mix, competing against the behemoth that is Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April. But in addition to furniture debuts and high-profile launches, LDF also acts as an occasion for those lesser design-mad folks to enjoy events and workshops around the city, as well as the oh-so-tempting retail destinations offering the latest coordinating stationery necessities (yes, HAY, we’re looking at you). With the launch of our pop-up keeping us New York–bound, we sent our London correspondent Rae Blunstone out onto the circuit, LDF guide in hand and sturdy sneakers at the ready, to pick up her favorites from the week’s events.
We at Sight Unseen are very busy people. We have babies to nurse (congratulations, Jill!), articles to write for other publications, subjects to spend hours and hours interviewing for this publication, and designers to hassle about finishing their submissions for our still top-secret online shop, set to launch in a little over a month (trust us, it's going to be good). Thus, we sometimes don't have the chance to attend events like the London Design Festival, even as we cringe with regret watching invitations roll in for Established & Sons and Phillips de Pury dinners, friends' exhibition openings, and dozens more chances to take the pulse of one of our favorite local design scenes. When that happens, we reach out to folks we trust and ask them to report back on whatever highs, lows, and drunken blurs they may have witnessed on the ground. Here, Dan Rubinstein, the intrepid editor of Surface magazine — both Jill and I are contributing editors — shares some of the details and moments he was privy to during last week's LDF, which he somehow managed to take time out of his own busy schedule to attend. As for us, you know what they say: There's always next year.
The first time we attended the London Design Festival, five years ago now, it became something of a benchmark for us — the design event against which we not only measured other design events, but would come to measure our own, the Noho Design District. That's because when you attend the LDF, you feel like you couldn't be anywhere else but in London; the spotlight is resolutely on emerging homegrown talents (thanks in part to the RCA) and there are always brand new projects and product launches to see (thanks in part to the fact that, unlike ICFF, the festival takes place halfway between Milan fairs). LDF has such a good reputation, in fact, that even the coalition behind New York City's official efforts to organize an as-yet-unnamed New York design week are looking to it for inspiration — can you imagine Tom Dixon giving away 500 free lamps in the middle of Times Square? It may happen sooner than you think. In the meantime, three years after our last trip to our favorite fair, we've returned, and we'll be making the rounds all week reporting on who and what we see here. After arriving on Friday morning, we had a bit of a slow start, poking around Shoreditch and hanging out with the incredibly gifted duo behind Silo Studio, whom we'll introduce in depth in the coming weeks. Check out the images here, and stay tuned for many more.
Just as everyone else is arriving in London, our time here is winding down — we have one last day today to take in the sights and sounds before flying home tomorrow, and we'll be spending most of it at one of the more newsworthy events of the week, Designjunction. There's going to be quite a few new releases happening at the Central London hub, but if you want to know the truth, we're most excited about seeing the building, a 250,000-sqft. industrial complex that should make a sublime backdrop for our humble photography efforts. Meanwhile, we've documented the last two days' worth of events and shows here, from a trip to the Mint gallery where we spied the marbled stools above to a plop onto the motley mix of benches arrayed around the V&A courtyard, all made by various design superstars. There's no way we'll make it to everything by tomorrow, but we've got a lot more to share, so keep coming back to visit us please!