Focus on materials at the upcoming London Design Festival 2017

London Design Festival returns to celebrate and promote London as one of the most important and international design capitals. Now in its fifteenth year, the Festival will be hosted into several districts of the city during the upcoming period of 16-24 September 2017. A major feature of the Festival is a large program of over 450 projects and events, offering visitors an opportunity to experience world-class, innovative, and challenging design across the urban vivid centre.

In specific, two among these stand out for their special focus on materials.

The Design Museum, which opened the doors to its new home in Kensington in November 2016, presents an exciting project during this year’s London Design Festival. “Set in Stone” proposes a selection of works by eight designers invited to explore the potential of marble and limestone.

These works, displayed in various locations both inside and outside the museum, include objects intended for public use, such as seating by Eduardo Souto de Moura; a slide by Elemental; graphic pieces by Sagmeister & Walsh; and a series of domestic objects by Michael Anastassiades and Jasper Morrison. The project is an investigation of the qualities of stone, and the technical means through which it is cut and shaped. The natural formation of stone over millions of years produces patterns and textures that are unique and unrepeatable.

The designers’ responses represent small moments of monumentality that reflect the solidity and permanence of an elemental material. Originally conceived by the Portuguese curator, Guta Moura Guedes, the project has spanned more than two years and includes the work of 24 international architects and designers. “The way we treat the material is a primal operation: subtracting not adding, as it was done with the first human tools” says Alejandro Aravena, Executive Director of Elemental. “However, this is not a nostalgic treatment, the method of carving the stone was only possible through using state-of-the-art technologies. It takes a lot of knowledge to be simple.” 

Alex Newson, Senior Curator, the Design Museum explains: “Stone is such a fascinating material and I am thrilled to be bringing this project to the Design Museum during London Design Festival. Stone belongs to a handful of materials that have been used since the dawn of civilization”.

Moreover, designer Brodie Neill presents ‘Drop in the Ocean’ at ME London, a mesmerising site specific nature-driven installation, located in The Atrium of the iconic Foster + Partners designed hotel, the Official Hotel Partner for the Festival.

Neill’s presentation premieres his work Flotsam, produced using his self-created material Ocean Terrazzo which Neill developed for the Australian Pavilion for the 2016 London Design Biennale, and confronts the problem of the world’s plastic waste within our oceans. Designer Brodie Neill said, “The installation is a continuation of my work drawing attention to the global issue of ocean pollution through contemporary design, and upcycling waste streams to create innovative materials […] Drop in the Ocean is a multi-sensory display triggered from the power of a single drop of falling water magnifying into a roaring ocean wave.”

Cast completely as singular pieces, the Flotsam collection is created from a combination of all-white Ocean Terrazzo to reflect water and multicoloured ocean plastic fragments to reference the floating nature of the plastic waste which travels across oceans and break down into small fragments from the force of the currents, meanwhile the single drop seen in the melodic installation symbolizes the smallest essence of nature resulting in momentous consequences.