London Design Festival exclusive announcement

Though Salone 2009 is still very much on everyone's lips there's barely time to take a rest on any of those new chairs. No, it's straight back to business and onto the next one. But before the scene shifts to New York, London momentarily grabbed the spotlight and this morning announced its plans for their design festival in September.

A young gun on the fair circuit - this will be just its seventh year - the London Design Festival has accrued considerable clout in the global design scene. Part of this is due to the virtues of the city, which LDF makes the most of, tackling and taking advantage of its scale and diversity head on. Part is also due to the considerable wealth of young British talent, which seems to grow (and be given an ever-growing platform) each time.

This year, eschewing any murmurs that it might not be the time to show off, it seems like the LDF will be bigger and more impressive than ever. These are just three of the many exciting sounding initiatives taking place: Shigeru Ban has been confirmed as one of this year's Size + Matter installation designers on the Southbank; Jaime Hayon is to turn Trafalgar Square into a chess board, complete with gigantic ceramic chess pieces; and, our personal favourite though we may be a little biased, together with one of our favourite young designers, is creating a contemporary chair arch in this year's nucleus venue - the V&A.

We'll update you with more on these plans shortly. In the meantime Festival Director Ben Evans let us in on his thoughts about this year's event...

What was the response like to last year’s LDF and how have you addressed any critical feedback? (ie lots of people we felt were stumped by the distances between and disparity of so many things)
Good. The Festival is used by an increasingly diverse group of people and its value as a showcase is increasing. But the audience is hungry for more and we try to respond for requests such as more graphic based projects. The geography of London is a problem. Our centre is just too big and so we have been pushing for more design districts such as Brompton, Covent Garden and Brick Lane/Shoreditch with clusters of activity. That will be a bigger feature this year.

What direction have you decided to push LDF this year?
More outdoor projects. We will have two installations at South Bank Centre, one in Trafalgar Square and another major project at the V&A – the chair arch - which Wallpaper * is involved in. These projects tend to be the way the overall Festival is seen and reflect a growing trend for outdoor design work.

How have the dramatic economic events since LDF 2008 informed this year’s event?
Dramatically. It is why our clarion call is to BE BOLD. It is in times of adversity when design can really make a mark with work that is injected with strong ideas. Everything has to work harder but I believe that the good will be better. Interestingly, difficult times have motivated people, everyone wants to stay visible, and are prepared to do projects on a slightly different basis, generally with very little money.

Each year London’s reputation as a hub for emerging talent is growing – how are you (or LDF) supporting young British designers?
For a start we offer them a platform so that their voice can be heard. Then we try to bring them a new audience so that people can discover them. Many young designers try to put on shows together to reduce costs and also try to help with venues some of which are free. Being part of the Festival is the best way for young designers to raise their profile.

What are the ‘showstopper’ events planned for this year?
The overall programme at the V&A will be terrific. As well as the Wallpaper* chair arch there will be other installations, exhibitions, talks, events, and the biggest party of the Festival ! Outside the museum the Size & Matter project at the South Bank Centre will be a sure fire hit. There will also be some really interesting smaller shows across London. More info on that to come.

How do you feel LDF differs from the other design fairs on the global circuit?
Breadth & depth. Because we have perhaps 20 different design disciplines prospering here in London we want to celebrate and promote them all. Other cities can’t do that in the same way. Also London is such an international place and it is a magnet for talent from all over the world. We want to celebrate that too.

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