The London Design Festival is a platform for the widest spectrum of design disciplines, brought together as a unique and accessible programme. The diversity of world-class design talent in – and attracted to – London is one of the key strengths of the city over other global design centres; the London Design Festival brings this talent to the fore every year to connect with others, explore issues, do business, exchange ideas, and have fun.
The Festival is both a cultural and a commercial event. The programme ranges from major international exhibitions to trade events, installations to talks and seminars, from product launches to receptions, private views and parties. The majority of events are free of charge – enabling visitors to participate, listen, learn, commission and make purchases.
The Festival is funded through a combination of public and private sources. The London Development Agency has provided grant funding for the Festival since it was first staged. The London Design Festival Ltd is also an Arts Council ‘regularly funded organisation’. Private funding (approx 60%) is raised through sponsorship of Festival projects alongside a small range of London Design Festival products and services delivered throughout the year.
Festival audiences are significant, with an estimated 300,000 direct visitors to events listed as part of the Festival in 2009.
Director, London Design Festival
“A little over a decade ago I was standing next to a model of the Millennium Dome, glad-handing a string of dignitaries, when the then President of France inquired: ‘What’s it for?’
It was a good (if tart) question that deserved an equally good answer. I’m occasionally posed the same challenge about the London Design Festival and that too merits an equally thoughtful response.
In 2003 we declared that the Festival’s core aim was to ‘celebrate and promote the best of design in London and the UK’. And that objective still rings true.
Indeed it has become ever-more important as the rest of the world wakes up to the value of design promotion. We need to stay ahead of the game.
The Festival is also about introducing new design to an increasingly hungry audience. Since our launch there has been an exponential growth of interest in design from the public. So it’s our job to present our partner’s projects in an easily digestible manner, not only through this Guide but also via our website (www.londondesignfestival.com).
We’re also responsible for bringing together over 150 different companies, studios and organisations. Every partner wants visibility and the platform the Festival offers enables unprecedented exposure.
Each year, for instance, there are 1,000 pieces of press in the UK alone.
Ultimately though, we are only as good as our content and that means all of the partners presenting design in new and dynamic ways. That is London’s reputation – a hub for ideas – and we must sustain it. We want to be the marketplace, where brilliant new concepts and products are brought and sold.
Incidentally my answer to President Chirac was brief. ‘It’s for a nation’s confidence,’ I said. The London Design Fest ival too seeks to build confidence – for a sector that is proving to be a winner. ”
What is the London Design festival ?
Well it’s democratic: over 160 contributing organisations come together to create a wealth of installations, exhibitions, product launches, talks, seminars and parties.
Which means it’s big: there are over 240 events attracting 300,000 visitors from 22 countries.
And it’s city-wide: there are events and installations right across the capital from NW10 to E15.
But it’s focused too: if you don’t have much time the Festival Guide is broken up into five main hubs – Central, East, South, West and North.
Did we mention it’s eclectic? It runs the gamut of design disciplines, including interactive and digital, product and industrial, sustainable, graphic, furniture and craft. Oh, some of the installations are genuinely sculptural too.
It’s (largely) free. The vast majority of events don’t charge for entrance, ones that do are clearly marked in the Guide.
It’s for public and trade alike: the Festival is a cultural and commercial event.
There’s something for everyone, from a trade exhibition at Earls Court 2, to an installation of robots at Trafalgar Square, to cutting-edge craft at Old Spitalfields Market.
It’s fun: we believe that the capital’s flourishing design community is vital for the nation’s economy but we also believe that visitors to the Festival should have a really good time.
So we hope you enjoy!