LDF16 in review – The Highlights

Each year, the London Design Festival unveils never-seen-before public works of design of societal worth. In addition to being curtain raisers of sorts to the latest in technological and material advancements, these installations invite the entire world to experience design in an interactive, less intimidating setting.

This is our edit of design installations that made our hearts beat faster.


London design studio Glithero created a kinetic installation that extends across six floors at the V&A museum, thanks to the venue’s iconic green room and stairwell. The ‘abstract clock’ was made up of a series of neon-coloured silicone cords, each joined to a motorised revolving arm at the top of the stairwell. As the arm turns, the strings rise and fall one by one, creating a wave-like motion.

Visitors could experience the neon-hued abstract clock from six levels in the V&A


British design entrepreneur Benjamin Hubert, of experience design agency Layer, collaborated with iconic German brand Braun to create FOIL, an immersive installation located in the V&A’s Tapestry gallery. The large-scale installation comprised of 50,000 mirror-finish stainless steel panels on a 20-metre by 1.2-metre undulating ribbon that ran down the length of the gallery and was driven by a high-power German motor in a constant sine-wave motion. Light from LEDs reflected off the panelled surface to create a slowly morphing and evocative pattern of scattered light, moving across the walls and ceiling of the gallery.


Architect Alison Brooks’ Landmark Project in collaboration with AHEC and Arup could be described as an unidentified flying object: a 34m long, 3m high upside down arc poised on the urban horizon. Her project is also a spectacular urban pavilion that takes the shape of a Smile.  It is a four sided curved tube that curves upward to its two open ends, allowing light to wash across its curved floor like water across a spillway. Hovering 3m above the ground, its two ends are viewing platforms that take in the sky and reach out to neighbouring buildings.

Made entirely of tulipwood, and a segment of a 100m diameter circle, the Smile creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light.


MINI partnered with designer Asif Khan to continue its MINI LIVING programme — an exploration of architectural solutions to urban living challenges that kicked off earlier this year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The London edition addressed the need for a functional and flexible network of ‘third places’ in the urban environment. MINI LIVING scanned London for spatial potentials within the public realm and identified a network of three exemplary locations of underused public spaces within the city fabric. These locations served as the basis for the MINI LIVING “Third Places” concept and its interpretation by Asif Khan.

Speculated on the possibilities of “third places” as described by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, Asif Khan designed a family of architectural installations called “Forests” using plants to explore the relationship between public and private space in the city.


Istanbul-based architecture firm Tabanlıoğlu Architects brought Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat to life on the bridge over the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance galleries. The evocative installation took the form of a 13-metre-long mirrored black box on the bridge. Visitors are able to peer inside through cracks in the surface of the enclosure to see atmospheric scenes from the novel re-created using cinematic techniques, physical objects, text, light, and sound.

“The installation is a physical, multi-sensory realization of the way the human mind imagines scenes from a book as they read,” says Murat Tabanlıoğlu. “It’s a very intimate experience that celebrates literature, passion and the human condition.”


Elytra Filament Pavilion was created by experimental German architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. Menges and Knippers are leaders of research institutes at the University of Stuttgart that are pioneering the integration of biomimicry, robotic fabrication and new materials research in architecture. This installation emerges from their ongoing research projects and is their first-ever major commission in the UK. The pavilion explores the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making.




British designer Lee Broom transformed his east London store into an experimental installation showcasing his Optical light collection that debuted at the Salone del Mobile show in Milan earlier this year. Inspired by the 1960s Op Art movement, wall to wall infinity mirrors and surfaces kitted in monochrome stripes echoed the graphic quality of the lights that transformed his showroom/work space into a kaleidoscope.

Lee Broom transformed his showroom / workspace into a lights installation.


Darkroom launched a temporary [floating] home in East London. They took over the beautifully black Bert’s Barge, presenting a tile/fabric collaboration alongside some very special new Darkroom products. Based around Darkroom‘s signature use of graphic forms, the Split Shift collection with Bert & May featured three tile designs.


Darkroom activated the Bert’s Barge with an installation featuring tiles and fabrics from its latest collection born from a collaboration with Bert & May


Bocci’s immersive light installation 44 is the second site-specific commission for the Light well in the Barbican foyer. Designed by Omer Arbel, the light installation comprises of over 300 free-poured aluminium forms resulting from a specialised fabrication technique which are suspended from the ceiling by a matrix of thin cables.

Engaging with notions of mass, craftsmanship, mass production  and weightlessness, 44 anoints the volume of a London landmark building

Engaging with notions of mass, craftsmanship, mass production and weightlessness, 44 anoints the volume of a London landmark building


Taking design to the streets, quite literally,  Royal Institute of British Architects returned to Regent Street with its annual celebration of design and design commerce in the 360 degrees, beautifully exemplified by retail show-windows curated by ten cherry picked architectural firms.




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