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London Design Festival 2016: Events to See In Kensington & Chelsea

As LDF hits the capital, Luxury London explores four of the best of the exhibits being showcased in Kensington and Chelsea. From designer Mathieu Lehanneur to glass installation company Lasvit, London is buzzing with creativity

Walking through London, it’s hard to stroll down a street that doesn’t have some element of interesting design – and this very much includes that fine area of west London we know and love, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. For nine days from 17 September, London once again pays tribute to its reputation as the design capital of the world in the form of the London Design Festival 2016.

Conceived by British designer Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans in 2003, the event brings together the greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to prove London’s prominent position in the design world. In the vicinity of Kensington & Chelsea, there are two official design districts that have become designated areas of creative activity. Having begun its life over a decade ago, the festival has affected the design world monumentally, with more than 80 cities fashioning their own version. 

Since 2006, the Brompton Design District, which encompasses the zone around South Kensington, has become an internationally recognised area for exhibitions and events at the festival. Acting as a partnership between the international brands, independent retailers, cultural institutions and neighbourhood eateries, this district has arguably revitalised the area. 

Chelsea Design Quarter was born in late 2012, after a group of local interior design-led retailers decided it was high time to make the most of this diverse hub of inspirational people and shops. From Imperial Wharf to the King’s Road, you can peruse lighting to fabrics, kitchens to antiques, in what has become an esteemed destination for all of your essential and aesthetic home improvements. 

Included in this year’s line-up is LuxuryMade, a contemporary decorative interiors show taking place for the first time at Kensington Olympia’s Pillar and Upper Pillar Halls. Bringing together 50 manufacturers in one place, LuxuryMade is certain to play a fundamental role in representing west Kensington as an up-and-coming design district. Italian furniture producer Poltrona Frau, established in 1912, is one of the brands that will be showcasing its work at Olympia. Last year, the company opened its first flagship store in London on the Fulham Road – expect to see sophisticated and hand-crafted pieces with a style that can transcend generations. Alongside Poltrona Frau is Czech glass-making brand Lasvit, which is renowned for its dramatic and theatrical installations and creations, along with Cassina, an Italian furniture and interior accessories company. Visitors can anticipate finding a Philippe Starck sofa next to a Marco Zanuso armchair. 

Having begun its life over a decade ago, the London Design Festival has affected the design world monumentally

The Martyn Thompson Studio is to some degree the “Renaissance man” of New York’s design scene. Working across photography, textile and wallpaper design, editioned art and publishing, the studio is showcasing its new collection of textiles, inspired by the Ionian Sea. In the Rock Pool collection, 100 per cent cotton on a jacquard loom is formed into fabrics, using images taken by Thompson himself of the ocean floor, brought to life by the flickers of sunlight and ripples of the wind. 

Through his fabric and mural collections, Thompson is thus able to reproduce his personal art. And it was his understanding of textiles that led him to using a jacquard loom for this collection, as he was able to see the
unique quality his images would have when transformed onto a woven fabric.

Throughout the nine-day festival, the Victoria and Albert Museum is acting as a hub, inviting visitors to enjoy exhibitions and events. The iconic institution has for years been a magnet for designers and so can proudly call itself one of the world’s leading museums for art and design. 

This year, the V&A Engineering Season will highlight and celebrate the importance of engineering in life and the “unsung heroes” of design, who can be thanked for their creation of built environments. Exploring the impact of emerging robotic technologies, the first ever public commission in the UK by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer will see a lightweight structure made up of tightly woven carbon-fibre cells, entitled Elytra Filament Pavilion. 

Elsewhere in the museum, Benjamin Hubert, of experience design agency Layer, has created a landmark installation in collaboration with Braun (of haircare and grooming distinction). Located in the Tapestry galleries, the piece, christened Foil, showcases the performance engineering and movement of shaver foils. Composed of a 20-metre undulating ribbon made up of 40,000 individual metallic elements, the installation is monumental and makes for an interesting experience, as the metal foils reflect, amplify and trace the light within the room.

Award-winning designer Mathieu Lehanneur has also installed a special piece, named Liquid Marble, which evokes a surreal vision of the sea, echoing the feel and look of rippling water, but made from just one single piece of hand-polished black marble. Designed using 3D software, the intense black marble reflects and distorts itself, appearing quite ominous. 

It’s an honour that the Royal Borough has had, and continues to have, such an impact on the capital’s art and design scene, not to mention the world. Take a stroll around the area this September and those of you who know it well may even begin to look at it a little bit differently. 

17-25 September, for more information, visit: www.londondesignfestival.com