Monday, 25 September 2017

London Design Festival 2017 at the V&A

Since it began in 2003, London Design Festival (LDF) has grown into a world renowned event, covering all aspects of design. LDF 2017 opened on Saturday 16th September and ran until Sunday 24th September. There were over 400 different events throughout London and the Festival hub was located at the Victoria & Albert Museum. There is an excellent fit between the Festival and the museum, with the museum spaces and collections being used to promote new work and develop exciting new ideas. From an immersive light installation to a quiet contemplative stone structure, visitors were able to experience a wonderful selection of world class design. 


Garden Ware by Bruce McLean, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
This year, as a volunteer at the V&A, I was able to be involved in LDF by leading tours of the installations in the museum. Being part of the team was a great experience and I really enjoyed presenting the installations to my tour groups. In this blog post, I'd like to give you an overview of some of the work that was on show at this year's festival. 

Transmission by Ross Lovegrove
Ross Lovegrove spent considerable time studying the 15th Century Devonshire hunting tapestries in the V&A's Tapestry Gallery. He was drawn to the human figures and in particular, the drape of the clothing. His three dimensional tapestry sculpture is made using Alcantara, a man-made textile more commonly found on car seats! The colours used on the Alcantara were digitally matched from the tapestries and gilt machine embroidery was also added, giving the structure a shine and sparkle in the low light of the Gallery. The huge curved folds provided new views of the tapestries for visitors. Transmission will remain on display in the Tapestry Gallery until Monday 9th October 2017.

Transmission, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Transmission, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Reflection Room by Flynn Talbot 
Flynn Talbot created an immersive coloured light experience in the vaulted space of the Prince Consort Gallery. This Gallery formerly housed over 30,000 textile items and most recently was the temporary lunch room! The Gallery was lined with 56 custom made stretch membrane Barrisol panels in gloss black. The Barrisol membrane can be stretched into shape and then is hardened by heating. The hardened panels formed the reflective surface placed along the side of the gallery with Tryka led profiles emitting orange and blue light located at either end of the gallery.

Reflection Room, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Reflection Room, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

While We Wait by Elias and Yousef Anastas
The beautiful stone structure created by the Bethlehem based architects is a celebration of the Cremisan Valley in Palestine. The stone was sourced from different regions of Palestine then cut using the process of stereotomy. Both traditional and innovative new techniques were used to create the precisely shaped stone blocks, which were reassembled into a lace-like self supporting structure in the Simon Sainsbury Gallery.

While We Wait, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

While We Wait, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

While We Wait, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Exhale by Julian Melchiorri 
Exhale is a beautiful chandelier that will remain in place over the new V&A members reception desk. Designed by Julian Melchiorri, the chandelier uses algae to create oxygen through the process of photosynthesis  I was fortunate to be able to go to a spotlight talk by Julian, where he explained that his vision is to use micro-organisms on a huge scale. He sees the technology being applied over field sized areas. For LDF he has used the technology on a small scale to create this stunning installation.

Exhale, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
The British Land Celebration of Design Medal Exhibition
The circular Clore Study Area was the perfect spot for highlighting this year's medal winners. From the classic signage designed by Margaret Calvert, to the scooter for life by Paul Priestman and the model of Exhale by Julian Melchiorri, the four plinths show representative work by each of the winners. I was absolutely entranced by Es Devlin’s Magicbox, that combined led technology with optical illusions all within a three foot plywood cube!

Magicbox, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Inside Es Devlin's Magicbox, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Inside Es Devlin's Magicbox, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
The 3D printed model of Julian Melchiorri’s bionic chandelier showed the beauty of the design from all angles.

Exhale Model, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining


Slave/ Master by BR Innovation Agency
This fascinating installation in the Raphael Gallery explored the interaction between humans and robots. In this case, the robots were cooperational robots, known as Cobots and the humans were dancers from the London Contemporary Ballet Theatre. The performance of dancer and cobot was very beautiful to watch. As the dancers moved and interacted with the cobots, the patterns of movement changed. Complex algorithms reflected this change by displaying a visual interpretation on a screen above the performance.


Slave/ master, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Slave/ Master performance, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Garden Ware: What is a Good Pot? Bruce McLean and 1882 Ltd 
In 1987, the V&A purchased a large pot by the conceptual artist Bruce McLean. There were many comments about this purchase as the pot was top heavy, had only a small handle and could not pour properly! The curator at that time, Oliver Watson, defended the purchase by pointing out that many objects in the museum’s collection had no purpose, so why should this one be any different. He went on to say, that although Bruce McLean was not a potter, this was surely a good pot! The pieces created for Garden Ware continue to challenge the notion of what makes a good pot. There were four display plinths by Bruce McLean exploring the idea and a self guided trail of the Ceramics Galleries compiled by Bruce McLean and Oliver Watson.


The original Bruce McLean Pot, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Garden Ware, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining


Evocations by Petr Stanicky
These two dramatic installations were located on lift landings looking over the Daylit Gallery. Petr Stanicky works with found objects for his sculptures in glass. He specifically chose the landing locations for his work as they are also "found" places within the museum. Before the construction of the Daylit Gallery was completed in 2009, the locations for Evocations did not exist.


Evocations, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Evocations, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

High Tide for Carmen 
This display in the Theatre and Performance Galleries encompassed the animations and dramatic direction of the opera Carmen at the Bregenz festival in Austria. With direction by Kaspen Holsen, stage design by Es devlin and projections by Luke hall, the stage set was shown over a two room installation. In the first room, a tiny part of the set was displayed at full size with an enormous thumb and playing card. The second room contained a scale model of the opera set complete with projected animations and a tiny figure of Carmen for scale. The design process begins three years before the first performance and assembly takes six months. The display will remain on show in the Theatre and Performance Gallery until Sunday 5th November 2017.

High Tide for Carmen, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining
Recreation of Es Devlin's Desk,
High Tide for Carmen, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Have Your Cake and Eat it too by Sylvia Weidenbach
Sylvia Weidenbach is the V&A Gilbert Collection resident. Her fascinating installations in the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries challenged visitors to consider what they value. She has used 3D printed bases, precious gems and a mix of modern and traditional techniques to create very beautiful items that explore what value actually is.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining

Metropolis by Lubna Chowdhary
Lubna Chowdary is the V&A Ceramics resident. Her installation, Metropolis is made up of 1084 separate items! She has been adding to this fascinating collection for the last 30 years. All 1084 items were displayed between glass display cases in the Ceramics Gallery. Looking closely at the individual items you discovered objects that represent the everyday and the otherworldly.

Metropolis, LDF17
photo by Emma Vining 
I hope you have enjoyed my overview of some of the V&A's LDF installations. Please click on the links to discover more about the artists, the V&A and the London Design Festival.

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