The London Design Festival is a city-wide exhibition that transforms the UK’s capital into a colossal gallery of creativity and innovation where design is the guest of honour. Created in 2003 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, this key calendar moment of London’s autumn creative season promotes the city by the Thames as the design capital of the world. From the 16th to the 24th of September 2023, the city will be buzzing with designers, architects, artists, and the intellectually curious from around the globe. London truly becomes a myriad of events, installations, exhibitions, and workshops, all dedicated to the exploration and celebration of design.
This festival is not a platform where only the established names in the industry can have a voice, it works also as a launching pad for emerging talents, recent graduates, and small businesses to set their foot in the design world. The London Design Festival’s commitment to diversity and accessibility starts with the Launch Pad, an initiative that allows designers who typically wouldn’t participate in the event to showcase their work and connect with new audiences.
The festival is divided into 13 Design Districts, each with its unique personality reflecting the local community and enabling visitors to explore events while they stroll around the city. These are the heart of the festival and the place where the audience can interact with the creations and the designers, where visitors can immerse themselves in various microcosms of creativity.
In addition to the Design Districts, the festival has major consumer and trade shows known as Design Fairs. As key meeting places for designers, manufacturers, buyers, and the media, these fairs are the commercial pillars of the event. It’s here that new trends are identified, where design enthusiasts discover new products, and where transactions are not just of products but of inspirations and visions.
Ben Evans, London Design Festival Director, said: “Each year, London Design Festival provides a global platform for the city’s creative community to share their innovative ideas and connect with audiences from around the world. The 2023 edition arrives at an important moment when bringing people together through creativity and design matters more than ever. Across our Design Districts, Fairs and Partners, this year’s programme promises to spark discovery, build community, and drive progress through the power of design.”
The Design Districts
The London Design Festival’s 13 Design Districts are the centre where design will be revolving around in September. Each one a unique ecosystem of design, these districts reflect their respective community’s style and energy. As visitors can interact with the pieces and creators, it’s in these spaces that you can almost hear the heartbeat of the festival.
Bankside showcases sustainable public realm activations, craft exhibitions, workshops, and VR installations. In this Design District, pollution is transformed into products and objects.
Battersea encompasses both established and emerging designers as they take over Ingate Works and where the Victorian low line’s 250 arches are reimagined through discussions led by Allies & Morrison.
Brompton, the oldest of the festival’s districts, explores the theme “Conviviality – The Art of Living Together”.
Chelsea delves into its century-old legacy of bohemian free-thinking and creativity spanning architecture, interiors, fashion, jewellery, and food.
Dalston to Stokey is a melting pot of creative businesses and individuals focusing on designer makers, arts, and culture.
In Fitzrovia, visitors can find the leaders in furniture design, housing creative industries, innovative startups, and independent restaurants and bars.
Greenwich Peninsula showcases a series of public artworks throughout a linear walkway.
Islington is where contemporary design meets traditional craftsmanship, hosting a diverse range of designers and creators.
King’s Cross, with its fusion of architectural wonders and design innovations, is where the past and future mix.
Mayfair is where the elite and the creative converge, showcasing pieces as symbols of opulence and excellence.
At Park Royal, industrial design is highlighted and where design can be found in its raw and unfiltered form, allowing visitors to witness the transformation of ideas into tangible realities.
Shoreditch Design Triangle is an avant-garde and eclectic district where each design is a statement of individuality.
Southwark showcases a wide range of styles as its community is vibrant and diverse, making this the perfect district to start dialogues between different cultures and traditions.
The Design Fairs
The Design Fairs at the London Design Festivals are the commercial epicentre of the event. It’s there that connections are formed, innovations are presented, trends are set, and ideas are exchanged.
London Design Fair
Scheduled to return from 21-24 September 2023, the London Design Fair is known as the UK’s leading showcase of innovative design, brands, makers, and galleries. Located at the iconic Truman Brewery at the Shoreditch Design Triangle, this market brings an array of worldwide designers and brands to London.
Visitors will have the opportunity to attend world-class talks, discover new designs and emerging trends, and explore unique installations. International pavilions from countries including Sweden, South Korea, and Ukraine will showcase designers from all around the world.
Features of this fair include ‘The Power of Colour’, an immersive entrance designed by 2LG Studio in partnership with Lick, and ‘Homes with a Heart, curated by stylist, writer, and consultant Roddy Clarke in collaboration with the UK’s leading sustainable business community Blue Patch. The fair’s speaker program includes Interior Design Masters Finalist Frank Newbold’s interactive session ‘Design Dilemmas’, and Architonic’s theatre takeover will be hosting sessions with the likes of Pearson Lloyd, Universal Design Studio, and Form Us With Love.
After a successful debut last year, the Material Matters fair returns this year to the London Design Festival. Located at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf from the 20-23 September 2023, this fair celebrates the importance of materials in design and architecture. Featuring world-class brands, manufacturers, designers, and makers, will contain a collection of ideas, innovative products, features, and installations. The fair will also host a talks program focused on the significance of materials in design, allowing visitors to explore the array of ways in which materials shape our world, influence our perceptions, and determine our experiences.
The Partners of the London Design Festival
The Partners of the London Design Festival are the forces driving the event forward, contributing their expertise, resources, and passion to create a platform that celebrates design in all its forms. They share the festival’s vision and values and work together to promote creativity, innovation, and excellence in design.
The group of Partners include a wide range of entities, from design studios to educational institutions, from manufacturers to retailers. Many of these Partners are strong advocates for sustainability and help the festival bring a positive change to the world of design by focusing their expertise on eco-friendly design solutions and materials. The Partners are also the innovative thinkers of our generation, allowing the event to redefine design and push ideas and technologies to the limit.
The cultural institutions that are part of the festival’s Partners play a significant role in connecting design with the broader cultural context, which allows for the exploration of the intersections between design, art, history, and society. Educational institutions are the nurturers of the next generation of designers and, therefore, play a pivotal role in fostering a culture of curiosity and critical thinking among students.