With festivities now in full swing, first stop for many (us included) on the London Design Festival trail is a whiz 'round the various goings-on at the illustrious Victoria & Albert Museum in the city's Brompton district. As the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design (housing an estimated 4.5 million objects in the permanent collection), the grand Victorian edifice has become a fitting hub for the design festival in recent years. As in previous years, the V&A hosts a number of LDF exhibits dotted around the maze-like galleries and corridors of the museum, as well as an impressive program of talks and debates.
Amongst the highlights, new trio Felix de Pass (product and interior designer), Michael Montgomery (graphic designer) and Ian McIntyre (ceramist) have taken over the dimly lit climate controlled tapestry galleries with a spellbinding installation entitled "Candela.' A large rotating disc floating above the gallery floor rotates to display evolving glowing partterns—a light fixture at the bottom of the piece effectively 'printing' light onto the discs phosphorescent surface (similar, apparently, to that used by the sponsoring watch brand). As the disc turns and the printed pattern evolves, a pleasing depth is created as previous rotations slowly fade.
Every year at LDF the V&A exhibits new acquisitions of their 'Design Fund'. On view this week is the newly acquired 'Broken Mirror' by Aurélia von Allmen and Guillaume Markwalder of ECAL, previously exhibited at the Swiss design school's well-received "Delirious Home" exhibition in Milan this spring. An intriguing experiment in interaction design, this mirror only comes into use when a user come close enough, the reflective membrane surface pulling taut when the sensor below is triggered.
Also on show from the new 'Design Fund' collection is the 'Sketch Chair' by Swedish design trio Front, who recorded themselves drawing in the air an turned their movements into a 3D file that was then printed with ceramic filled proxy.
Taking over the prime spot of the V&A's enormous Raphael Gallery this year was left to a collaboration between Barber Osgerby and BMW, with the partnership creating an installation of epic proportions entitled 'Double Space.' Apparently inspired by the themes of movement and perspectives in space, the huge mirrored structure fills the gallery ceiling before rotating on an axis to give viewers a new perspective on the space around them.
Sam Dunne is a designer, strategist and writer based in London. Sam is founder of design strategy agency Cohere and Contributing Editor at Core77—reporting broadly on design, technology, food and object culture.