A Socially Driven Guide to Some of the 2023 London Design Festival Highlights

A Socially Driven Guide to Some of the 2023 London Design Festival Highlights

It’s September again, which for many means back to work, back to school and the return of the London Design Festival. Very soon, exhibitions will pop up in every nook of the city, with showrooms promising to save the world and designers briefly flirting with becoming DJs. But among the fun and the noise are some genuinely stellar people putting design into action – creating beautiful, story-rich pieces that show us the world in a new light.

V&A Emerging Designer Commission: Andu Masebo
The story-driven designer presents Part Exchange, a furniture family built from a single car.

As a designer, Andu Masebo is as interested in the stories objects tell as the objects themselves. Nowhere is this better expressed than his project for the annual V&A Emerging Designer Commission, launching during the London Design Festival on 16 September 2023 and running until 15 October 2023.

Part Exchange comprises a family of furnishings, including a daybed, freestanding shelves and a coffee table that tells the entire 25-year history of a single car, an Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf. On display at V&A Museum South Kensington, the pieces composed from disassembled components of the car will be presented on a plinth fashioned from material recycled from previous exhibitions.

The car parts being used by Andu Masebo for his artworks

Purchasing the car at the end of its usable life, Andu sought out its previous owners to inspire the design of the furniture pieces. Moving between Jean from Yorkshire in 1998, William from Manchester in 2005, Nigel from Blackburn in 2007, Niel from Walsall in 2017 and its final owner, Chris from London in 2020, the car has been driven and loved in many different locations throughout its 25-year history.

Photography and wall texts in the gallery space share these stories, reflecting diverse experiences of adolescent exploration, time spent with friends, the thrill of the open road and the everyday ups and downs of family life.

Andu says, “While I’m not suggesting that we should all start turning our cars into furniture, I am interested in attempting to develop a new aesthetic of reuse. An aesthetic that sees sustainability not as a moral concession, but as an opportunity to enrich the meaning of things, old and new.”

Dates, times and location
Saturday 16 September 2023 – Sunday 15 October 2023
10.00 – 17.30
V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 2RL
Design 1900 – Now (Room 74, 74a & 76), Level 2
Free, no tickets required

Without Shape Without Form
Unstruck Melody at the V&A

Artwork by NirbhaiArtwork by Nirbhai (Nep) Singh Sidhu.

From Without Shape Without Form, Unstruck Melody is a unique collaboration with British-born Canadian artist Nirbhai (Nep) Singh Sidhu. As part of the London Design Festival at the V&A South Kensington, this special installation includes tapestry and film exploring ideas of spirituality and self-discovery through Sikh teachings.

Singh Sidhu works with textiles, sculpture, painting, video, and sound. Interested in the metaphysics of form and spatial rhythm, his poetic and symbolically rich work explores formlessness as a metaphor for the divine and endless possibilities.

Curated by Deep K Kailey, founder of WSWF and former fashion director of Tatler and Vogue India, the project is a classic example of her belief in bringing art, mental health, culture and spirituality together.

Unstruck Melody (Andu Masebo at LDF 2023)
Saturday, 16 September – Sunday, 15 October 2023
10.00 – 17.30

V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 2RL

Prince Consort Gallery, Level 2
Free event

Friday Late performance and talk
As part of Unstruck Melody, there will be an immersive Simran sound performance performance and a talk between the artist and curator during the V&A’s special late opening on Friday Late, 22 September.

Darren Appiagyei
Craft in Brompton, talk at London Design Fair

16–24 September 2023
4 Cromwell Place, South Kensington SW7 2JE

Darren holding one of his art pieces in the studioPortrait of Darren Appiagyei, by Gareth Hacker.

Known for his narrative-rich, materially driven wooden pieces, Darren Appiagyei is taking part in a group exhibition at the New Craftsmen and will appear on a panel on business for the LDNdesign Talks Theatre.

Darren’s work will feature as part of the New Craftsmen’s ‘Join, Assemble, Hold’. Against the backdrop of a domestic interior, his hand-wrought pieces are set within a suspended installation of regional baskets alongside work by Ash & Plumb, Alex Walshaw, Takahashi McGil and Studio AMOS, while a hand-carved installation by Max Bainbridge is in an adjoining room.

The exhibition celebrates rare and endangered basketry techniques, offering insight into heritage skills unique to the British Isles, revived for the contemporary world.

Are you using your power?
Design Can’s unmissable message for the London Design Festival 2023

Throughout LDF, equity campaign Design Can will be asking a pointed question to the UK’s creative sector across hundreds of advertising boards: “Are you using your power?”

The 'Are you using your power?' postersRender of Design Can’s ‘Are you using your power?’ campaign. Graphic design by TEMPLO. Distribution and placement by UNCLE.

Designed by cause-led brand agency TEMPLO and printed and distributed by UNCLE, the message will appear on 400 boards across London on 8–21 September – a time when creative businesses are gathering in the city – to kickstart a conversation about how everyone should play a role tackling inequality.

Whether it’s decision-makers at the top, junior staffers carrying out tasks, or those yet to get their foot in the door, we can all make an impact – even if it’s solely helping to spread the message and influence those around them.

Echoing the campaign’s ‘You Can’ statements – a series encouraging people to use whatever power they have – the billboard intentionally takes a provocative tone as a bold call to action for the sector as a whole.

The campaign will officially launch at a Design Can party at NOW Gallery, Greenwich Peninsula, on 14 September, and a QR code on the billboards will link to a digital call-to-action on design-can.com, where people can find further resources around allyship and inclusion.

“Since launching in 2019, Design Can has worked with individuals and institutions across the creative sector. It was founded to support people in living up to the values they claimed to hold. Now, we’re calling on everyone who wants to see an inclusive sector make some noise. The time for change is now.”– Sabine Zetteler, founder of Design Can.

Smile Plastics
Showing in Shoreditch with 2LG

As part of the London Design Festival, Smile Plastics is collaborating on an installation with creative duo Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, founders of 2LG studio. Entitled You Can Sit With Us, a 14-seat dining table will feature different designers showcasing their work, with the centre designed and fabricated by Smile Plastics.

The Heron plastics laid out like dominosSmile Plastics’ recycled-plastic material, Heron.

In conjunction with Make Relief, Smile Plastics materials have been used to fabricate the registration desk for Material Matters. Taking inspiration from Danish textile designer Tanja Kirst, the piece forms an artistic geometric surface with Smile Plastic’s Heron colours, continued through the supporting podiums and plinths.

Other highlights include a launch party at Tala’s flagship showroom, which will be followed by a breakfast morning with Dezeen, where Smile Plastics will share behind-the-scenes details about the collaboration.

Read more art and design news and features in our dedicated section.

A Socially Driven Guide to Some of the 2023 London Design Festival Highlights 2

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