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London: The Global Capital of Design

From houses that sing to lights that swing, the London Design Festival is an annual celebration of all things design.



October 8, 2018

The London Design Festival is an annual celebration of London as the world capital of design. The festival launched back in 2003 and has carried on each fall for the past 16 years. Visitors from across the globe come to check out the wide array of events which include lectures, performances, and installations.

This years week-long festivities took place from September 15-23. IBI staff in London were lucky enough to check out some of the exciting installations- and some even had the opportunity to showcase their own work in the festival!

Architecture Asistant, Clarissa Evans, visited the coinciding London Design Biennale which was devoted to the theme “Emotional States”. Participating countries, cities, and territories reflected on relevant cultural, social, and political issues to inform their contributions.

Australia’s submission, entitled “Full Spectrum”, was designed by lighting artist and designer Flynn Talbot. Talbot’s installation brought a heartwarming glow to the exhibition amidst dismal global affairs. His interactive rainbow lights encourage visitors to reflect on love, just as Talbot was inspired by Australia’s recent approval of same-sex marriage.

Tinkah, on behalf of the UAE, presented “Time is Subjective” at the London Design Biennale. The work addresses both the history of the UAE as well as its future as one of the youngest countries in the world. The installation is comprised of 70 desert sand hourglasses, which rotate endlessly and embody that constant motion of the country while also symbolizing the most important decade in the UAE’s history (the 1970’s).

Full Spectrum (left), Time is Subjective (right)

Open House London was another overlapping augmentation to the London Design Festival where IBI’s Mental Health Lead, Wendy de Silva participated on behalf of her interactive architecture firm, Chance de Silva. Wendy and her partner Stephen Chance worked together with electronic musician/composer Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) on their project Vex. In 2014, the group was invited to exhibit an installation based on Vex at the Venice Biennale. The physical building and musical composition were completed in situ in 2017.

The architecture/ sound collaboration is inspired by Erik Satie’s 18-hour looping piano piece, Vexations. The result is a three-storey home in Stroke Newington, fully integrated with music inside and around the building. The trio used sound to inform its design, and wrapped sheet music around the design model of the building to inspire the placement of windows and doors based on musical notations.

Since its completion, the project has won a 2018 RIBA London Award and has been long-listed  for the RIBA House of the Year award.

Images by Clarissa Evans

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