This review was kindly commissioned by magazine subscription service Stack, for Air Design, UK
As is normally the case with creative happenings, the return of London Design Festival 2015 (LDF15) saw an influx of good old design veterans, but also a shift in design aesthetics. Whereas the Design Festival last year took a more vibrant and experimental approach, this year seemed much more careful and minimal. Having spoken to a few people who’d already been to see a few shows around London, it seemed that this ‘careful’ approach had fallen short. With this in mind, I was a little apprehensive, but despite the minor criticisms and apprehension, LDW15 was a brilliant working with lots of inspiring workshops and installations.
The Norwegian Icons exhibition at Tent London was a personal favourite. The focus this year for the Norwegian Icons exhibition was primarily based on manufacturing and showing work from 33 new and well-established designers. A few things became apparent when walking through the installation. There was a strong leaning towards the return of more earthily look and feels; with chipped woods, rustic metals and the dark moody lights, that bounced orange and yellow hues of the Glasswork by ‘Magnor Glasswerk’.
The aim of the Norwegian Icons exhibition was to walk you through the complete process of (manufacturing) design. It’s perhaps why, on entering, we saw much less ‘put-together’ sculptures, but as you made your way through the space you could see the completion of these pieces taking place. In many ways, this exhibition was like storytelling. The seamless merging between the raw materials of wood, wool and straw, with the more streamlined glass and smooth stone resulted in a show that paid tribute to its strong agricultural roots but maintained the momentum of Nordic modernity.
By Day two, I’d followed the ‘East London Triangle’ path that led me from the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane to ‘Moo’ Cards in Shoreditch. As part of the more interactive events at LDF15, the guys at Moo were letter-pressing on brightly coloured, crazy patterned cards that reminded me that design can be fun and wacky, and sometimes without obvious reason. Overall, LDF15 was a success with lots of inspiring talks, installations and workshops. The main thing I took away from the days that I attended was: 1.) It is entirely okay, encouraged in fact, to return to where you started in order to draw inspiration (As was the case with the Norwegian Icons Exhibition). Secondly, enjoy the process of design, rather than the end product, as I learned letter pressing with ‘Moo’ Cards.