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A preview of the 20th London Design Festival

The London Design Festival, which starts on September 17, is just around the corner. For one week, leading designers from around the world will turn their eyes to the British capital. For many it will be the first London Festival in person since covid, but that’s not the only reason to expect a bumper year. It is also the LDF’s 20th anniversary.

Over two decades, the event has steadily grown, and by 2019, the festival had reached 1.1m visits by 600,000 visitors, from 75 different countries. Continuing this expansive trend, this year’s Festival will feature events all over the city, many of them free to attend. “This 20th anniversary edition is more important than ever, inviting audiences locally and internationally to experience the festival’s dynamic programme at the many districts that span the capital,” said Justine Simons, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries.

Here are a few of the things we are looking forward to.

blue and black stripped building for The London Design Festival
Design London logo with a sunset background

"This 20th anniversary edition is more important than ever, inviting audiences locally and internationally to experience the festival's dynamic programme at the many districts that span the capital"

V&A – Festival Hub

The Victoria and Albert museum has been the festival’s hub for 13 years, and will be the focal point again this time around. Some of the Museum’s most famous rooms and galleries are being taken over by designers from around the world. Sustainability and regeneration are two key themes.

A Singapore-led project, R for Repair, will see beloved but broken household items given over to top designers to re-imagine. Plasticity, meanwhile, will look at ways of reusing waste plastic to help save the oceans.

Statues in a museum

St Giles Square

As part of the festival’s Landmark Projects scheme, top designers take over iconic parts of the city. This year is no exception, with Sabine Marcelis bringing a unique interactive installation to St Giles Square, in the shadow of the iconic Brutalist tower at Centre Point.

Swivelling seats in contrasting marble and stone will provide a practical function as well as a prompt for looking afresh at a familiar part of London.

London aerial shot

Design London

A short walk from the 02 in North Greenwich, at Magazine London, Design London will be a four-day showcase of the best in contemporary design, the commercial heartbeat of the week. Exhibitors will include Penta, Artemide, HAY and Christian Watson (as well as No Grey Area), along with international pavilions from Sweden, Korea, Portugal, Denmark and Thailand. As well as these displays, Design London will feature Discussions at Design London, a series of talks highlighting trends and addressing talking points.

Culture Walks

You might not associate Shakespeare with cutting-edge design, but Better Bankside are on a mission to change that. For the LDF they have created a trail around Bankside to mark the Globe Theatre’s 25th year, with illustration and photography that will prove Shakespeare’s ongoing relevance. Meanwhile in Walthamstow, there will be six guided street art tours along the William Morris design line, showcasing one of the great British geniuses – and giving you a chance to stretch your legs in the leafy streets of E17. Back in EC1R, a sneak preview will be available of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, set to open in 2024 and sure to become one of London’s cultural must-do’s.

Globe Theatre

Global Design Forum

While other areas of LDF focus on new models, designs and real-world objects, the Global Design Forum occupies a more theoretical position. Through talks, debates and discussions, it will explore how the design world is reacting to real-world issues: in particular how it is improving sustainability, diversity and innovation. The full programme has yet to be announced, but expect an eclectic mix of leading designers, journalists, scientists and entrepreneurs.