London Design Festival 2009

“The Festival reflects the growing worldwide recognition of the power of design to change things for the better, to help deliver economic prosperity and to improve quality of life.” — Sir John Sorrell – Chairman, London Design Festival

Last week, across the Atlantic (for those residing in North America), the London Design Festival showcased some pretty amazing works. Since it’s inception in 2003, the week-long festival is the UK’s biggest, giving London’s world class talent the ability to exhibit their works to design enthusiasts who visit the festival each year. Each exhibit is housed within a London landmark which really depicts the mood and style of the design–be it the Trafalgar Square, Southbank Centre, the Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) or the Somerset House.

I’ve rounded up some of my favourite designs from the event, have a look and see if you agree!

1. Jaime Hayón’s Ginormous Chess Board in Trafalgar Square

hayon chess set
photo via The Independent

I’ve seen life-size chess boards in photos from friends who’ve visited sun destinations, but the Tournament, an installation created by this Spanish designer literally left me in awe. This gigantic chess set, with 2m high ceramic chess pieces displayed on a mosaic glass chess board is truly a masterpiece. Each chess piece was painted by Hayón himself (look at the detailing on those King and Queen pieces!) and was created with a wooden base on castors for easy maneuvering. The installation was designed to playfully recreate the interactive scenography of English history and tradition. Visitors are welcome to host their very own chess game using these cool pieces. What’s even more interesting is that each piece represents some iconic building in London.

You can watch this interview with Jaime himself to hear how this project came together

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2. Ralph Ball & Maxine Naylor’s crazy chair

chair poetics

Chair Poetics was an exhibit held in the design district and created by Ralph and Maxine. The idea behind this project was to take ordinary everyday chairs and reconfigure them to remind us about our relationship to utility, familiarity, obsolescence, sustainability and value to something that many regard as a staple in everyday life. Their design really makes you think doesn’t it… I for one am thinking, how would anyone roll around in this chair?

3. Rachel Wingfield & Mathias Gmachl’s efficient lighting


“In Praise of Shadows” is another one that caught my eye. This exhibit which was located in the V&A was a project created between the union of 20 European designers. The premise for this exhibit was to allow visitors to reflect on the idea between shadow and light. Not just to save energy, but to change the way we think about darkness. I especially liked the concept idea by Rachel and Mathias’ Sonumbra which is a solar-powered electro luminescent wire which is intended for regions without access to the electricity grid, offering them a low cost and low maintenance alternative.

4. Thomas Heatherwick with the world’s first continuous piece of furniture extracted from a machine

worlds largest extrusion
photo via De Zeen

I love the motion that takes place each time I look at this design. Extrusions was created by the world’s largest extrusion machine. This British designer, Thomas, designed a die for the machines through which aluminium is ‘squeezed’ into a classic chair profile. In total, Thomas created six prototype pieces which is later going to be transformed into usable outdoor furniture. Each of the six prototypes were created from one single sheet of aluminum polished for 300 hours to obtain a mirror finish. I wonder how comfortable this design will be?

The great thing about this festival is that visitors also have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with some of the designers! Hopefully next year, Vidafine will be able to make it in person to see all these great works first hand!

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