• Barely back from the beach and the London Design Festival is upon us, and continues to grow in scope, diversity and ambition. We support LDF’s shift towards reflecting the wider interests, practices and connections of London’s miscellaneous design communities (service designers to chair designers).


    One theme of this year’s festival is a wider engagement with social questions, such as response to the housing crisis. With hundreds of exhibitions and talks to choose from, Plan’s intrepid design planners have sieved through them all to cook up our top 10 places for the discerning design festival goer to visit.


    We will be hitting the streets in full force next week once the doors are thrown open and will be updating our Twitter feed with highlights using #PlanGuide.


    Please Tweet us your highlights.





  • 1.

    London Biennale

    CENTRAL: Somerset House

    INSTALLATION: #Utopia #Design #Architecture #VR


    A refreshing new addition to the scene swoops in to clinch our top spot.


    In stark contrast to the sea of interior furnishings and trade shows that often saturate LDF, the inaugural London Design Biennale aims to explore the power of design to create meaningful, positive social and economic change.


    Curated by former Icon magazine editor Christopher Turner, it has invited submissions from across the globe, touting collaborations from leading design organisations to explore and interrogate the theme of Utopia by Design. With the hope of inspiring ways to build a better world and address the challenges humanity faces in this turbulent time.


    With 37 installations and over 30 talks and workshops there’s a lot to absorb, and, as a result, some are more thought provoking than others, without giving too much away here are our top picks…



    Chile: The Counterculture Room

    A reconstruction of a 1970's socialist government project dreamed up by Salvador Allende which can be seen as a precursor to the “smart city” technology we’re hearing about now.


    Russia: Discovering Utopia, lost archives of Soviet design

    Previously unseen archives that glimpse into the idealised world created by Soviet designers.


    Japan: A journey around the neighbourhood globe

    A dreamlike, poetic and playful exploration of Utopia in everyday objects.


    Turkey: The wish machine

    An interactive installation based on an ancient cultural ritual that sends visitor’s wishes and hopes for the future into the ether (picture above).


    Indonesia: Freedome

    An installation that represents the ten-point declaration on the promotion of world peace and cooperation, agreed by the twenty-nine Asian and African countries that attended the 1955 Asian-African conference in Bandung.


    And if you still have the head space, take the chance to check out Björk’s immersive virtual reality exhibition, which is currently running at Somerset House.


    7 – 27 September


    View opening times


    Book tickets


  • 2.


    WEST: Brompton Design Quarter

    INSTALLATION: #MultiSensory #Design #Architecture


    Returning to its powerhouse status, back up two places from last year is the hub of the festival with some blockbuster installation heavyweights. However, it resides in only second place due to a lack lustre menu of talks and debates, in comparison with last year’s stellar line-up from the Global Design Forum.


    Still, you can expect to see a showcase of beautifully crafted, large-scale, sculptural displays against the backdrop of historic spaces in the V&A.


    Look out for…



    Foil by Benjamin Hubert

    A 20-metre revolving ribbon of over 40,000 individual metallic panels in tribute to the 360-degree rotating, precision-engineered form of the iconic Braun shaver foil.


    The Green Room by Glithero

    A cinematic style installation emulating the arms of a clock, using veils of colourful strings that are lifted and dropped in a series of slow, choreographed movements.


    Liquid Marble by Mathieu Lehanneur

    A calming, surreal vision of the sea that mimics its rippling and undulating surface created from one solid slab of black marble.


    Beloved by Tabanlioglu Architects

    A 13 metre long multi-sensory installation that explores the way the human mind imagines scenes from a book as they read, employing a range of cinematic techniques, physical objects, text, light and sound.

    And if you haven’t already, the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden is a must-see!


    17 – 21 September


    View opening times




  • 3.
    Service design fringe festival

    CENTRAL: Bargehouse, Oxo Tower

    WORKSHOPS & TALKS: #ServiceDesign #DesignThinking


    We’re excited to see the Service Design Fringe festival building momentum this year, bringing together a network of service designers to share and build on their experiences in the field.


    Running in tandem with LDF, the Service Design Fringe hopes to stimulate discussion on the progressive role service design plays on tackling big issues through a multi-faceted design lens. With an impressive 10 day line-up of talks, workshops,and events, here are our top picks:


    15 – 25 September



    Next Practice Workshops: Data Science, Ethnography, & Speculative Design

    Policy Lab
    22 September


    Beyond the Blueprint: The Achilles Heel of Service Design

    SU and Thinkersblock

    22 September


    Bringing Design Thinking into Organisations

    Jason Grant & others
    22 September 



    Ethics & The Future of the Internet

    IF & Demos Helsinki

    17 September



    Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf Barge House Street, London, SE1 9QS


    Full events



  • 4.
    Design Museum talks

    WEST: Olympia

    TALKS: #Design #Futures #Luxury #Experience


    Usually left in the shadows of the big names of the Global Design Forums, the Design Museum has upped the ante with a curated programme of talks for 100% Design around the wide topic of contemporary trends in design practise and the future of design.




    Ron Arad
    22nd September

    Auditorium, Olympia

    The Luxury Experience
    22 September 


    Auditorium, Olympia

    After the success of the future of luxury last year the theme is this time tackled by Anne-Marie Verdin, the Brand Director Mulberry and Simon Rawlings, the Creative Director of Luxury interiors design studio David Collins Studio.

    The Internet of Experiences
    23 September 


    Auditorium, Olympia

    Panelists Martijn van der Heijden, Digital Strategist at Fabrique; Tom Hares, CEO and founder of Buzzbike; and Sam Hill, experience designer and co-founder of Pan Studio will be discussing the sharing economy, social networks, the future of VR and some of the other innovations that will be changing your life in the not-too-distant future.


    Our changing domestic experience: The future of home
    23 September


    Auditorium, Olympia

    Mikael Ydholm, Head of Research at IKEA; Curator of the British Pavilion at the current Venice Architecture Biennale, Shumi Bose; and Design Museum Chief Curator Justin McGuirk will discuss what the homes of the future might look like, and discuss the wider societal implications of the changing domestic landscape.


    21 – 24 September



  • 5.

    MINI Living 'Forests'


    EAST: Old street

    INSTALLATIONS: #Architecture #UrbanDesign #MicroLiving


    In response to the tension between the premiumisation of urban space and a population of city dwellers disassociated from one another, car brand MINI have collaborated with architect Asif Khan to conceptualise the future evolution of underused public spaces.

    The project MINI living aims to reclaim human relationships within the cities and enrich the quality of life of their citizens.


    The outcome, a series of three impressive architectural installations (or glorified greenhouses) dotted around Old street, housing sapling forests designed to offer visitors a small oasis between home and the city to connect, relax and unwind away from the busy city streets.


    To wrap up the MINI Living project join the creators at the V&A to discuss the Future of Urban Living is a Post-growth Era or check out the masterclass on Future Liveable Cities also at the V&A.


    17 – 25 September



    MINI LIVING: Future of Urban living in a post-growth era

    19 September

    V&A, Level 4, The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy
    Lecture Theatre

    Join Oke Hauser, Creative Lead Architect & Project Manager of MINI LIVING and Architect Asif Khan for a debate on urban living challenges, current trends, and possible solutions with a focus on urban densification and reactions to these tendencies in the housing sector.

    Future / Liveable Cities

    19 September


    V&A, Level 4, The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy
    Lecture Theatre


    More info




  • 6.


    NORTH: Kings Cross, Granary square

    TALKS: #Furniture #Design #Product #Lighting


    Designjunction has moved into its shiny new home at Granary Square for this year’s LDF.


    Known for playing host to an extensive array of lust-worthy furniture and lighting, this year is no exception.


    If you want to be immersed in design this is the place, there are 70 pop-up shops, 8 custom built red monopoly houses (intrigued?) and two exhibition spaces housing interactive installations and demonstrations – all in one show! Oh, and 12 street food vans thrown in for

    good measure.

    We recommend checking out the amazing structural facade of Cubitt House designed by Satellite Architects and Icons

    of Denmark.


    22 – 25 September



  • 7.

    Open Mile

    EAST: Mare Street (between Bethnal Green & London Fields)

    SHOW & WORKSHOPS: #Tech #Printing #Making #Meet #Drink


    Building on the success of last year’s debut, Maker Mile consists of 50 creative start ups, studios, cafes that form the core of Hackney’s maker movement. Head down to the Open Mile for an evenings of open doors, talks and events or register for a tour


    Open Mile

    19 September



    21 – 23 September


    Register for a tour


    Find out more



  • 8.

    Electro Craft

    EAST: 23 Charlotte road, Shoreditch Design Triangle

    EXHIBITION: #Tech #Craft #Design


    Feeling deflated by the ‘sometimes bland corporate products with very little aesthetic or artistic value’, influential designer Tord Boonthje has invited 27 designers and artists to exhibit a range of electronic products which highlight the work that is being done to create electronics with an acute attention to beautiful design.


    Expect to see experiments to products from emerging and established designers, notably: Daniel Weil, El Ultimo Grito, Industrial Facility, Map, ROLI, Studio Tord Boontje, Yamaha and Yuri Suzuki.

    Find out more


    17 – 25 September

    Whilst you are in the Shoreditch Design Triangle, head towards:

    SCP x Piet Hein Eek

    17 – 25 September​
    SCP Ltd - 135-139 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BX
    An exhibition presenting a range of new 2016 designs alongside products from the Piet Hein Eek archive.

    Find out more

    Lee Broom Optically
    21 – 25 September
    93 Rivington St, London EC2A 3AY

    To celebrate the festival and the launch of the new Lee Broom lighting collection the flagship store will be transformed for one week only into a postmodern Op Art experience.


    Find out more




  • 9.

    Light Capsules x Ghostsigns

    SOUTH: Bankside Design District

    INSTALLATION: #Ghostsigns #Signage #Typography #ProjectMapping


    The fading painted signs often seen on the facades of London buildings are being put in the spotlight by a 3D artist and Adobe Creative Resident. Through the medium of projection mapping, Craig Winslow will be recreating the signs digitally and projecting them as they were originally displayed using typographic analysis and reinterpretation of the letter forms.


    Each evening a new sign will be brought back to life, with a finale of ghost signs from around the world, conveniently projected within perfect view from The Distillery Terrace bar at the Hilton. Address?


    17 – 24 September


    Take Courage

    17 September

    South: at the junction of Park Street and Redcross Way, near Borough Market.

    Barlow & Roberts

    18 September

    South: under the railway bridge on Southwark Street.


    Cakebread Robey

    19 September 

    North: at the junction of Tyssen Road and Stoke Newington High Street.

    Ghostsigns Worldwide Installation

    21 September 

    South: at The Distillery, 2-18 Great Suffolk Street.

    Bermondsey Mesh & Wire Works

    TBC: 22 September

    South: at the junction of Tanner Street and Bermondsey Street.

    Westminster Gazette, Criterion Matches, Gillette palimpsest

    23 September 

    North: on Stoke Newington Church Street.

    Take Courage

    24 September 

    South: at the junction of Park Street and Redcross Way, near Borough Market.


    Find out more



  • 10.

    Blend by
    Raw Colour

    WEST: The Aram Gallery

    EXHIBITION: #CMF #Colour


    One for colour lovers.


    This solo exhibition by Eindhoven-based interdisciplinary design studio, explores their research and experimentation in colour through a selection of textile, photographic and interactive installations that respond to visitors’ movements - so get colour mixing!


    While you’re there pay a visit to Monocle’s pop-up to recharge from touring the LDF smorgasbord with a flat white and cinnamon bun…mmm!


    19 – 24 September


    Find out more



  • Plan is a product–service strategy consultancy.


    We help companies work out what to do next.




    Keep up with our discerning coverage @planstrategic or by using the #PlanGuide