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About London Design Festival 

The vision of London Design Festival is to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world. The Festival returns for the 19th edition from 18-26 September 2020

London Design Festival was launched by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE in 2003. Building on London’s existing design activity, their concept was to create an annual event that would promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver an unmissable celebration of design. The launch of the first Festival took place at Bloomberg on 25 March 2003, with a huge show of support from design, education, government and London organisations. 18 years later, this vision remains ever strong.

In 2019, the Festival welcomed a record-breaking 600,000 individual visitors from over 75 countries. An additional passer by audience of nearly 1 million people had the opportunity to see the four Landmark Projects. In addition, London Design Festival helped drive a total of 120,000 visits to the V&A over the Festival period with 22% of those surveyed saying they had never visited the museum before and were driven there by the Festival.

London Design Festival Director, Ben Evans CBE says “London and Design go hand in hand. It is part of our story. London Design Festival is a platform for hundreds of design stories to be told. Each of them talks to an expanding audience hungry for design ideas and enjoying the quality and diversity of what’s on offer. It all confirms London’s status as the global centre of design."

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “London Design Festival is a fantastic event which brings together designers from across the globe and demonstrates the capital’s position as a powerhouse for the creative industries. London is known for its creativity and continues to attract the best companies and talent from around the world. I’m delighted to support London Design Festival, which shows that London is open to great ideas, innovation and people from all backgrounds.”


1. Since 2007, the Festival has commissioned some of the world’s most celebrated designers, creating sensational temporary structures. The first, Zaha Hadid’s incredible concrete Urban Nebula, appeared at the Southbank Centre, which propelled polished concrete into design stardom.

2. The Festival has been responsible for the creation of design icons and must-see, must-experience structures: In addition to work by Hadid and the Bouroullecs, there has been Alison Brooks Architects’ The Smile (2016) and Endless Stair (2013) by Alex de Rijke.

3. Police were almost called during the spectacular Chair Grab by Tom Dixon in 2006, when 500 polystyrene chairs by the designer were given away in Trafalgar Square.

4. The Festival shines a bold new light on the city, and makes the familiar fresh. Jaime Hayón’s Tournament (2009) incorporated a giant chessboard in Trafalgar Square bringing to life an Alice Through The Looking Glass cityscape.

5. Outrace by Kram/Weisshaar in 2010 featured eight Audi robots creating calligraphy from visitor’s text messages. Because the technology depended on headlights, it had to run until midnight as messages were easier to view after sunset.

6. Framed by Stuart Haygarth (2010) was inspired by Dorothy’s travels down the Yellow Brick Road (in the Land of Oz) as well as an abstract interpretation of contemporary street art.

7. When Thomas Heatherwick made the case that Vidal Sassoon should be given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, he did it by putting on a Sassoon wig at the judge’s dinner to demonstrate how architectural Sassoon’s work is.

8.  When AL_A architects created Timber Wave outside the V&A in 2011, the piece was so challenging to install, the main entrance to the museum was shut for almost two weeks.

9.  It took over a year to convince St Paul’s Cathedral to allow John Pawson to install Perspectives in 2011. The installation was located in the Dean’s Staircase; the entrance to which hadn’t been opened to the public ever before.

10.  Textile Field (2011) saw a vast expanse of soft angled flooring on which people were invited to lounge and congregate, in the otherwise hushed cavernous environment: “One of the most amazing things is that an institution like the V&A – where you aren’t allowed to sit on anything - allowed a project of this scale and ambition,” says Evans. “It was a game changing moment.”

11.  Endless Stair commissioned by AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) was one of the Festival’s biggest attractions from 2013. The surreal architectural design even served as a stage for a performing brass band during its installation at the Tate Modern.

12.  London Design Festival has been the platform where new stars are made, as well as established ones celebrated. Medal Winner Roland Lamb now employs over 100 people, has attracted huge investment, and has a working relationship with NASA since he won the 2014 Emerging Design Medal with his radical new keyboard instrument.

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