London Design Festival: best picks at the V&A

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The London Design Festival is one of the highlights of my year in terms of art and design. It's one of those weeks where there's so much great stuff on offer that you know you're not going to be able to get to everything (especially if you're working standard hours) so I thought I'd round up a few of the events which I'm most keen to get to this week. The festival runs until this Sunday, 21st September.

The Victoria & Albert Museum (my greatest London love) has been the hub of the festival for the last six years, and hosts some of the most exciting displays of the week. Contained in one building, it's easy to see quite a lot of the festival in one place - but don't underestimate the time it takes to walk these corridors! There's always a lot to see at the museum, but this week it's full to the brim with fantastic stuff, and these are my top seven.

Disobedient Objects |    One of my all-time favourite exhibitions held at the V&A, and very political for such a large and often traditional institution! I'll be writing more about this exhibition soon here, and will also be sharing some insight from the curator over on the blog for the V&A's youth collective, CreateVoice. Disobedient Objects is a fantastic display of items used in political protest from around the late 1970s until the present day: from embroidered banners, badges, and barricades, to photographic drones, the Bike Bloc and even a very large truck, it's a fascinating insight into political protest for all kinds of causes. The exhibition runs until 1st February 2015.

Double Space for BMW: Precision & Poetry in Motion |    In a collaboration with BMW, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, the Raphael Gallery has been transformed with two giant reflective surfaces made using aeronautical manufacturing techniques, hoisted high into the rafters of the huge space containing the priceless Raphael Cartoons. The last time I was in the museum, I got a glimpse of the installation of the structures - it looked very stressful! In a gallery filled with some of the museum's most precious objects, in a listed building, these kinds of projects are incredibly difficult to realise. I'm very excited to see the result of that hard work and how the structures will alter the perception of the gallery space. The installation will be at the V&A until the end of October.

Military Secret |    The Cast Courts are one of my favourite rooms in the entire museum, and Trajan's Column one of my favourite objects. The casts of the huge column built to celebrate Trajan's victories are hollow, and for the first time, visitors will be allowed (one at a time) inside the huge columns to experience the work of experimental ceramicist James Rigler. According to the press officer at the V&A, Rigler has been very secretive about the installation, so I'm excited to see what's inside!

Candela |    Installed in one of the V&A's often missed galleries, Tapestries, a team of designers (Felix de Pass, Michael Montgomery and Ian McIntyre) have created a glowing, rotating sculpture using light patterns to create different patterns on the luminescent surface. 

Breathless Beauty - Broken Beauty |    A video installation by Vanessa Jane Hall, inspired by and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the very popular 1974 V&A exhibition 'The Destruction of the Country House'. The exhibition gave insight into the way historic houses were decaying in Britain and prompted increased support for organisations like English Heritage and the National Trust, without whom we would have lost many of the houses we can visit today, and which are shown in the installation.

Crest |    The revolutionary architect Zaha Hadid designed this sculpture to fit in two locations: here at the John Madejski Garden, and at the ME Hotel in Dubai, where it'll be moved to after the festival. The curved aluminium structure was pre-stressed and assembled on site from several pieces, and mimics the crest of a wave as if originating from the pool.

A World to Win: Posters of Protest & Revolution |    Closely linked to the Disobedient Objects exhibition, this display shows original posters from over a hundred years of political protest, from the Votes for Women campaign, to the Occupy movement and modern acquisitions.

Maze graphic: London Design Festival
Images 1-6: London Design Festival
Image 7: V&A