As per usual, the London Design Festival was overflowing with engaging talks, carefully curated showrooms and installations that give your brain design-ey tingles. One theme we noticed that seemed woven into the festival was immersion. A plethora of installations and exhibitions that engaged the visitors in a physical way were spread throughout the streets and spaces of London. This trend is akin to the consumers rising desire for a more 360-degree experience of brands and products. Design has always been a combination of aesthetics, functionality, texture etc. of varying focuses – but now we expect all of these realms to exist on the same plane, a multisensory and fully complete experience, one we can engage with on all levels. We have chosen our top picks this year that peaked our senses into joyful overload...
Camille Walala - Walala Lounge, South Molton Street
French-born designer and artist Camille Walala is an LDF favourite. This year she was commissioned by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland to revitalise and breathe life into South Molton Street. With such vibrant colours, the furniture installations feel like they've been plucked from the pages of a comic book - being in a fully pedestrianised area and interactive makes you feel closer to the art than ever. So slick and clean, the furniture almost feels like something you shouldn't touch – yet the playful nature and bright palettes give an irresistibility to the installation. Walala's work always has a sense of playfulness and happiness, these installations being no exception! They bring a smile to your face at first glance, something we take granted for in design – quite often valuing beauty, innovation or cleverness and underappreciating the pure and simple feeling of joy.
Emily Forgot - Never Lost, citizenM Shoreditch
Next up on our list is 'Never Lost' - a tactile maze by Emily Forgot, an artist who plays with perspective, design and illustration. This space is visually a joy, a pleasing colour palette and clever placement give an almost 2-D feel to what is actually a complex arrangement of 3D structures. What is actually a reasonably small space feels almost infinite, how she crammed in so many features without it feeling overwhelming or busy is the key to this design's simplistic genius. It may be titled Never Lost, but we certainly found ourselves lost in its quality design!
BAOBAO Issey Miyake - BAOBAO Voice, Protein Studios
Our last mention of the festival was a multisensory experience which sparked inspiration. BAOBAO Issey Miyake's BAOBAO Voice was a display of their bags, famed for the triangular structural design that gives them an adaptable nature. Aside from the beautiful rainbow wall of bags, the installation took advantage of their structure in an innovative and futuristic manner. Having some bags on podiums that were hooked up to various systems, visitors could interact with them and handle them to create imagery and soundscapes respective to the movements. This multisensory and immersive experience felt like a new way to view products, and maybe a new way to shop – Imagine going to a buy a handbag and being able to understand what the design sounds like!
These immersive and multi-sensory installations throughout LDF gave the impression that design, branding and retail are all headed in the same direction. Trends over the past few years have all pointed towards the value of an 'experience', this year at London Design Festival we got to see some insight into how these experiences may begin to take shape in years to come.