September 30, 2016

12 Immersive Installations at London Design Festival 2016

Each year, the British capital brings design to the heart of the city with the London Design Festival. With over 400 events and installations across seven design districts, London is trying to give Milan Design Week a run for its money.

A major feature of the festival each year is the ambitious program of special projects and installations. Once again, the Victoria & Albert Museum was the festival’s official hub with a series of installations, talks, and workshops presented within the celebrated institution. In a museum that holds over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of creativity, finding space to house installations for the festival is a feat of creativity in itself, explained LDF director Ben Evans.

The residence at the V&A includes installations by a truly international roster of designers. Istanbul-based architecture practice Tabanlioglu Architects brought Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat to life through Beloved, an evocative digital installation on a bridge over the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries.

Another highlight at the V&A is Foil by Benjamin Hubert of the design agency Layer. The large-scale immersive installation features over 50,000 mirror-polished stainless-steel panels, undulating over a 66-foot-long wave formation. Reflections from the 16 LED lights bounce off the mirrored surfaces to create ethereal light patterns against the room’s tapestries, which date back to 1425. The collaboration with the German brand Braun played to Hubert’s strengths as a designer who fundamentally understands engineering. The project in essence is a deconstructed take on shaver foil and the way in which it rotates.    

Also within the confines of the V&A, a towering installation created by design studio Glithero in collaboration with luxury watchmaker Panerai fills the 58-foot high stairwell with silicone cords, each of which are connected to a central rotating device that is constantly moving. The Green Room results in a wave of moving color that can be experienced from multiple levels, aiming to change the perception of what a clock can be.

The architect Alison Brooks designed a pavilion in cross-laminated (CLT) American tulipwood with the American Hardwood Export Council. In the shape of an 11-foot-high, 11-foot-long Smile, the impressive hardwood structure is one of the landmark installations for this year’s London Design Festival. Visitors step inside to discover an interior dappled with sunlight framing views to each end. 

Further East, Omer Arbel’s installation Omer Arbel: 44 at Barbican highlights one of London’s more interesting and yet little known architecture gems. The Canadian lighting brand Bocci created an abstract aluminum forest that floats above the foyer. Suspended in a void and brought together with cables, the sculpture accentuates the concrete Brutialist space.

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