The seventh London Design Festival fared mightily last week, hosting a string of impressive and engaging events around the capital which gave meaning and redefiniton to “Design’ as we know it. We weren’t daunted by the recession, either. Unlike the financial services sector, our nearest rival in size, the creative industries showcased design, fashion and digital side by side, with the full weight of the public behind it.
Victoria Beckham was politely refused entry from the Tent show in Shoreditch because she was a couple of days early. Anna Wintour put in an appearance alongside Stella McCartney at the Established & Sons gig, after turning out in style for the Burberry party at London Fashion Week.
The big design shows were all there this year. 100% Design felt small at Earl’s Court 2 despite the support of a maturer Designers Block and the excellent celebration of cycling’s new wave, The Bike Feature. Other mainstays such as Tent, festival HQ at the V&A, Trafalgar Square, Greengaged at the Design Council, the FT breakfast talks, and the inspiring i-Design interactive design conference, all featured strongly again. All were backed by the hundreds of local one off events, openings and shows linked by the LDF and Icon Design Trail banners.
New kids on the block included Tom Dixon’s show at The Dock high up Ladbroke Grove , London Digital Week born out of Tent Digital, Max Fraser’s ambitious London Design Guide book, and the hugely successful British Council daily news feed The Incidental rounding up the tweets in suitable style.
As ever, there were an overwhelming amount of print commentary, guide books and paper trails. Far too much to absorb and not helped by an LDF site that is so chocka block it loses any sort of useful structure. Yet for all that, for the first time the LDF really felt like part of the chat. Not just in the Evening Standard and The TImes (well done Camron, keep it up John Sorrell) but on Twitter, over the online news feeds, in the Yahoo search rankings, alive in games of giant chess that pipped the Fourth Plinth. It has begun to find its interactive feet for the first time.
But Design had a bigger winner last week. Born amid all the parties and showcazses and talks and events, there was one unlikely player that still towered above the others in importance last week. The Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy, which has captured the nation’s attention is pure experience design. Here is not art as we know it. Not even Design Art (that’s next month with Frieze). Here is a story of art finding design and falling in love with it. Hayon’s chess Tournament proved that the world is becoming interactive and now it looks like Kapoor has started writing interaction’s grand narrative.