Highlights: London Design Festival 2013

London is experiencing a design renaissance and events like the 2013 London Design Festival that kicked off earlier this week highlight the city’s incredible creative energy. This is not to say all the designers featured are locals – as the show once again illustrates, London is a gateway for talent from all over the globe. The exhibits this year are an intriguing, lovely and spirited collection spanning from the purely conceptual to the quirky and fun.

Lebanese designer Najla El Zein’s Wind Portal sees 5000 spinning paper windmills installed in the doorway of the festival’s hub at the Victoria & Albert museum. Her delicate hand folded spinning windmills are attached to upright plastic tubes.

Other highlights at the V&A included a dramatic and giant chandelier of colourful glass spheres designed by Omer Arbel for Canadian lighting company Bocci. The chandelier is made of 280 hand-blown glass lights suspended on slim copper wires that descend some 30m from the ceiling of the first floor gallery, through a hole in the floor and into the museum’s main atrium. The impact is quite something.

Another project sees the museum and Swarovski challenge 14 leading designers – including Faye Toogood, Amanda Levete, Tom Dixon and Paul Cocksedge – to look into the theme of ‘God is in the Details’ by selecting an object of desire from the V&A’s extensive collections and constructing a viewing point from Swarovski specialist lenses that are positioned next to the chosen objects. Watch Cocksedge discusses his contribution to the project here.

Elsewhere in London Dutch designer Tord Boontje experiments with magnesium to cover surfaces with some intriguing results, and British designer Sebastian Wrong collaborates with Danish marque Hay to create a furniture collection shown in a Georgian townhouse.

Finally, Endless Stair is a fantastically surreal piece by Alex de Rijke of dRMM, Dean of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, installed in front of the Tate Modern. Inspiration came from Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher. Working with ARUP Engineers using American tulipwood, the team have created a series of 20 interlocking staircases that see climbers appear and disappear. The Endless Stair will be in place until 10 October.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read highlights of London Design Festival 2012 here.

The eleventh London Design Festival runs from 14 – 22 September.  For more on this year and to apply for next year’s festival visit here.

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