Five of the best design installations at London Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

As a fan of multi-disciplinary design as well as experimental projects, I was pleased to see so many design installations at this year’s London Design Festival. I have already covered three of the best installations in this blog: Heartbeat, an installation of 100,000 white balloons by French photographer Charles Pétillon, and two Faye Toogood installations (The Cloakroom and The Drawing Room) incorporating fashion, curatorship, making and sculpture. Here are five more and why they are interesting.

1) Curiosity Cloud by Viennese studio Mischer’Traxler at the V&A Museum

Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: Penny Craswell
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: Penny Craswell
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: PC
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: PC

You enter an ornate room of the V&A filled with 264 suspended blown-glass bulbs hanging from the ceiling. In each bulb, a small insect hand-made out of transparent foil flutters against the side of the glass when it senses your movement. Katharina Mischer (1982) and Thomas Traxler (1981) met while studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven and started their practice in Vienna in 2009. Curiosity Cloud is part of their ongoing collaboration with champagne brand Perrier-Jouët exploring “small discoveries.” Read more

Review: Faye Toogood installations at London Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

The London Design Festival is a museum-focused design event, rather than a commercial fair, and this is evident in the number of installations, talks and object exhibitions included. Two of the most amazing installations this year were by London-based designer Faye Toogood: The Cloakroom at the V&A Museum and The Drawing Room at Somerset House.

Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
I first met Faye when she visited Sydney for The Blocks, a multi-sensory installation she created for Penfolds Wine at Sydney’s Walsh Bay in 2012 (read my article here). At The Blocks, Faye reinterpreted five flavours of wine grapes using the sommelier’s notes, working with sculptors, perfumiers and artists to create the installation inspired by the description of the scent. This is typical of her approach, which is not only focused on making objects, but also includes a conceptual and curatorial element. Read more

Irish Design at Tent London

By Penny Craswell

At Tent London during the London Design Festival, I was impressed to see the high quality of Irish design at a government-funded exhibition organised by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Called ‘Ó’, meaning ‘from’ in Gaelic, the exhibition’s focus was on design informed by decades-old craft techniques, remote locations and local materials. And they didn’t just show the finished works, but also presented live demonstrations of the crafts practitioners at work.

Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied
Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied

I saw ceramicist Adam Frew throw a beautiful bowl on the wheel and everyone around was mesmerised – with very few watching through their phones (rare in this day and age!). He prefers to work by throwing pots, using white porcelain, because it allows him to be fast and spontaneous in his making: “It is important to maintain a flow in the production while constantly developing the work. It is an on-going journey with every new piece inspired by the previous form,” says Adam (ref: Give Irish Craft). Read more

Review: Charles Pétillon and 100,000 white balloons

By Penny Craswell

One of the most spectacular sights I saw at the 2015 London Design Festival was Heartbeat, an installation of 100,000 white balloons at Covent Garden. Arguably not a work of design at all, but an art installation (and instant tourist attraction!), the work is simple, bold and works wonderfully well. I had seen photographs of the work before I went, but in person, the work is even better, extending beyond the eye can see (over 50 metres) and rippling with the wind, reminding the viewer that this is a cluster of balloons and not a solid sculpture.

The installation is installed at the 19th Century building in Covent Garden. Photo: Penny Craswell
The installation is installed at the 19th Century building in Covent Garden. Photo: Penny Craswell

The work is part of a series of photographs by French photographer Charles Pétillon who calls his series Invasions. In each scene, the white balloon is used, transforming a simple, childlike object into a an amorphous shape that changes our perception of the scene. In each photograph, the white balloons can be imagined as a white cloud, or a growth, depending on your perception, hence “invading” the scene. Read more

Video: Alphabeta by Luca Nichetto at London Design Festival

Alphabeta is a new lamp designed by Italian Luca Nichetto for Hem, a brand that only launched last September 2014 at the London Design Festival. Hem’s first UK retail store opens this Saturday 19 September as part of this year’s festival, and an installation celebrating Alphabeta will come to life from 21 September at Somerset House.

More about Hem

Try the Alphabeta online configurator