Design Lover’s Guide to London Design Festival 2020

london design festival 2020

The 18th edition of London Design Festival returns to the capital this autumn from 12 – 20 September 2020 as a symbol of London’s determination to maintain its creative and cultural leadership.

Since its inception in 2003, London Design Festival has played a key role in bringing together the greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers, and educators to celebrate and promote design annually across the capital, and to put a spotlight on London’s creative brilliance.

The Show Must Go On!

“The show must go on. Showcasing is essential for the sector to survive and this year, more than ever, we are determined to offer every opportunity for designers to be seen and heard.”

London Design Festival Director, Ben Evans CBE

London has the largest creative economy of any city in the world, and its design reputation is internationally renowned. One in six people in London work in the creative industries and it has been the fastest-growing sector of the economy in recent years, but the effects and impact of the pandemic have disproportionately affected the creative industries, causing a catastrophic setback to the sector.

London Design Festival 2020

Following a number of cancellations and closures, the Festival this September will provide a platform for the design community to showcase work at a time when it is needed more than ever, helping to stimulate the creative economy and support young and emerging designers as well as more established names.

“It is great news that London Design Festival will take place this year, providing a much-needed platform for creatives and a confidence boost for the capital. Culture and the creative industries will play a central role in accelerating our recovery from COVID-19, and the Festival will continue to strengthen London’s position as the design capital of the world.”

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries

While international travel continues to be affected, this year’s Festival will have a strong local focus and will be a Festival for Londoners. In addition to Landmark Projects and Festival Commissions, Partner events across the Design Districts will enable visitors to walk between shows and discover something new. Physical installations will take place alongside virtual exhibitions, and a digital edition of the Global Design Forum will bring the latest design thinking to a global audience and allow the widest possible access to creative content. This year will also see the introduction of a new digital portal for freelancers to promote their work across the Festival’s platforms.

Landmark Projects

THE HOTHOUSE by Studio Weave @ Redman Place, International Quarter London

Supported by: Lendlease, IQL and London Continental Railways (LCR), with further support from Arup (Engineering), Tom Massey (Horticulture Design), Hortus Loci (Plant Nursery Partner), Cake Industries (Fabricator) and Amorim (Material)

London-based architecture practice Studio Weave, supported by Lendlease and LCR, will create The Hothouse, a large- scale installation located at International Quarter London (IQL). The structure of The Hothouse is reminiscent of a Victorian glasshouse and will provide a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate.

Rendering of The Hothouse by Studio Weave London Design Festival 2020
Rendering of The Hothouse by Studio Weave

“Amid the strangeness of the COVID era of the last few months, reduced human activity has produced what feels like a profound shift in the environment, progressing a much-needed dialogue that will hopefully translate into sustained action and change. We hope this little hot house acts as a continual reminder of our fragile relationship with nature, while allowing us to rediscover the simple and enriching pleasure of looking after beautiful plants.”

Je Ahn, Founder, Studio Weave
Rendering of the planned interior of The Hothouse by Studio Weave
Rendering of the planned interior of The Hothouse by Studio Weave

THE CIRCULAR DESIGN PROJECT by SAP, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and London Design Festival

Supported by: SAP

During London Design Festival 2020, SAP, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and LDF will curate and promote a selection of stories and supporting resources to empower and equip the design and creative community to seize the opportunity of the circular economy as a framework for positive global impact. Over the course of the nine days of the Festival, this series of moments will act as the spark that begins to shift designers’ attitudes and practices.

“91% of material resources are lost into landfills or leaked into the environment after consumption. Smart design is the first step to stopping this loss and making better use of our planet’s resources. SAP has been helping our customers manage resources productively for more than 40 years. We see a real opportunity to bring together the creative power of design with insights and data intelligence on the impact of materials throughout their lifecycle to create a more sustainable future. Together with the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the London Design Festival, we look towards the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) to drive impact in managing the interconnected issues of environmental waste and climate change alongside the global pandemic.”

Stephen Jamieson, Head of Sustainable Business Innovation EMEA North, SAP

Festival Commissions

UNITY by Marlene Huissoud @ Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross District

Supported by: Coal Drops Yard

French designer Marlene Huissoud has created a Festival Commission for Coal Drop’s Yard in King’s Cross, which emphasises the notion of unity and the importance of working together to repurpose and reconsider our shared environments as we emerge from the pandemic.

Rendering of Marlene Huissoud's UNITY installation at the South end arches, Coal Drops Yard, King's Cross london design festival 2020
Rendering of Marlene Huissoud’s UNITY installation at the South end arches, Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross

“We completely changed the original project concept planned – as the pandemic urged us as humans to make a ‘last’ call for action. More than ever, artists and designers need to redefine their roles and use their skills to shake society. This installation is more than an interactive piece, it is for society to wake up and realise how vital it is for us to be united and act as a whole,” says designer Marlene Huissoud.

Special Projects

CONNECTED by Various Designers, Created by The Design Museum, Benchmark Furniture, and The American Hardwood Export Council

9 designers, 3 hardwoods, 1 workshop

designers of the connected project at london design festival 2020 - R-L - Ini Archibong (Switzerland), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Studiopepe (Italy),
Maria Bruun (Denmark), Jaime Hayon (Spain), Heatherwick Studio (UK), Studio Swine (UK/Japan), Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska (Poland), Sabine Marcelis (Netherlands)
R-L: Ini Archibong (Switzerland), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Studiopepe (Italy),
Maria Bruun (Denmark), Jaime Hayon (Spain), Heatherwick Studio (UK),
Studio Swine (UK/Japan), Maria Jeglinska-Adamczewska (Poland), Sabine Marcelis (Netherlands)

The onset of Covid-19 has significantly changed the way people live, interact, and work. In the design world, creatives and makers have had to adapt their processes using new technologies to work together at a distance and often operating from new, improvised home offices.

Connected is an experiment set out to explore how designers and craftsmen adapt their working practices during lockdown.

AHEC - american hardwood export council Timber Samples
AHEC Timber Samples

For this project, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Benchmark Furniture, and the Design Museum have challenged nine international designers to create a table and seating, which will suit their new ways of working from and living at home. They will also record their creative journeys to allow us to witness how they approach the brief and develop their thoughts, sketches, and ideas during these challenging times.

These nine exciting solutions will all be displayed together virtually, and then exhibited at the Design Museum in Autumn, celebrating the act of coming back together – reconnecting – after lockdown.

LDF at The V&A

London Design Festival and The V&A have a unique and longstanding partnership. Due to the V&A’s focus on re-opening and ensuring the latest social distancing measures are in place, it is not possible for newly commissioned content to be installed within the museum this year. However, throughout London Design Festival, The V&A will be sharing an online tour of the Museum led by a member of the curatorial team. Join them on Instagram to follow their journey as they share their favourite objects and spaces across the galleries. In addition, the tours will be saved as a highlight on the LDF and V&A’s Instagram profiles and websites to watch retrospectively.

Design Destinations

Virtual Design Destination by Adorno

This year the Virtual Design Destination by Adorno will be the place to discover curated country collections of collectible design during London Design Festival. Working with Adorno’s roster of twenty-six international curators from design scenes across the globe, Adorno will present fourteen country pavilions virtually during the event, launching two collections per day over seven days.

ADORNO Virtual Design Destination, Sweden, Deep Deep Mirror, Photo by Farvash london design festival 2020
ADORNO Virtual Design Destination, Sweden, Deep Deep Mirror, Photo by Farvash

As a native, digital e-commerce platform, Adorno, from its base in Copenhagen, has been working for the last six months to harness the very best in tech. All real-world pieces from each collection will be modelled three-dimensionally and set in a virtual environment designed to reflect the design scene from which they hail – think gaming rather than room sets.

The theme for this year’s Virtual Design Destination by Adorno will be “The New Reality”. Curators have been working with their local designers at the intersection of craft and design to develop sub-narratives to this theme with some very interesting takes already emerging. Visitors will be taken on a virtual tour through each collection, including five to ten pieces from a selection of defining designers and narrated by the country curator.


Save the date for Focus/20 from 13-18 September 2020. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour will present Focus/20 in an exciting new format.

The event will be recalibrated to provide a unique creative and commercial platform for 120 showrooms to present their new collections. The pioneering hybrid show will strengthen the Design Centre’s mantra to ‘connect, converse, and create’ with the global design community.

Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour focus 20 london design festival 2020
Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour

Tailored visits will bring people to a physical event in London, while a virtual programme of online talks, webinars, and product launches will reach out to a wider audience worldwide. There will be first looks of the latest colour stories, patterns, and design narratives from 600 brands, alongside fresh perspective from house guests in the Design Avenue.

Focus/20 remains a design calendar highlight and encapsulates how design can continue to innovate and unite in a positive way.

Design Districts

Shoreditch Design Triangle

Established in 2008 by design brand and store SCP, the Shoreditch Design Triangle is a cultural platform that fosters creativity and collaboration in East London. Named after the shape on a map that the cross-section of the roads Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, and Great Eastern Street makes, the event has grown beyond its original boundaries to become the largest London Design Festival district, with over 50 individual participants.

Now in its twelfth consecutive year, the event brings together a wide spectrum of different design-led happenings, reflecting the flourishing creative sector that has taken root in the area, which is international in spirit and permissive in attitude. Visitors can expect a blend of both experimental and formal ideas, in the guise of product launches, exhibitions, installations, workshops, talk, tours, and many a culinary delight.

In light of the pandemic, Shoreditch Design Triangle are re-calibrating this year’s District, so that it can act as a catalyst for renewal and a place for people to reconvene with new ideas. They are convinced that East London’s creative community will support each other, and hope this year’s District can be a collaborative showcase of ingenuity and positivity. They will be scheduling an array of different digital experiences, from daily podcasts to event live streams, window exhibitions, and installations in outdoor spaces.

Brompton Design District

Despite 2020 being a different year to any others, Brompton Design District remains committed to nurturing established and emerging designers and supporting the design community. The area’s leading brands will showcase new collections and we are planning temporary exhibits that will highlight the UK’s vibrant creative culture at a time when design’s role in responding to the challenges we face is more pertinent than ever.

King’s Cross Design District

In addition to hosting numerous Partner events and a Festival Commission, this year the District has also commissioned celebrated practice, muf architecture/art to create a series of interventions that will form a wayfinding trail around the King’s Cross site. muf are interested in making spaces public, and creating public spaces for more than one thing at a time. Their work is defined by its strong community and sustainability credentials. muf are the only UK winners of the European Prize for Public Space for Barking Town Square and were the authors of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2010. Founding partner Liza Fior is Professor of Architecture and Spatial Practise at CSM.

Partner Events across the District include Central Saint Martins; Tom Dixon; and STORE Store.

Marylebone Design District and Mayfair Design District

Also returning for 2020 are Marylebone Design District and Mayfair Design District. Further details will be announced soon on each of their programmes, Partner events and planned activity, including Late Nights.

Design Routes

William Morris Design Line

We are delighted to welcome a new Design Route for 2020–the William Morris Design Line is a new Design Route through the streets of Walthamstow, from Wood Street to Blackhorse Lane.

William Morris Mural in Walthamstow, London. E17, Photo by Mark_Rigney
William Morris Mural in Walthamstow, London. E17, Photo by Mark_Rigney

Featured Partner Events

Octagon by Tom Dixon

For London Design Festival 2020, Tom Dixon will open The Coal Office for design enthusiasts to explore 8 different architectural spaces to celebrate the multifaceted nature of their global brand. They will reflect on Tom Dixon’s early products such as the S Chair which has been in continuous production for 30 years. Visitors can discover new products and technologies such as SWIRL, made from powdered marble residue and MASS, a super-polished solid brass table manufactured in the UK. Universal audiences can participate in inspirational virtual and physical events to learn more the brand and our extraordinary objects.

New Brass Mass Table by Tom Dixon london design festival 2020 octagon
New Brass Mass Table by Tom Dixon

“So many ideas! So many new stories, new partnerships and ways of making – and also a few old ones that we would like to tell our new friends and partners. But how to manage so much content? The answer is the OCTAGON.”

Tom Dixon

We will launch the OCTAGON at London Design Festival 2020. We will then compress and reshape it as a piece of small travelling architecture, with 8 facets of our hyperactive, constantly evolving brand, that we will travel to a town near you in the very near future (as soon as is allowed) “.

Tom Dixon’s Renovation of Paris Restaurant Le Drugstore

Japan House

The internationally acclaimed Architecture for Dogs exhibition will launch at Japan House London on Saturday 19 September 2020 as part of London Design Festival. Japan House London will be the first destination in Europe to exhibit Architecture for Dogs with a physical and virtual experience for guests, which was created and directed by Hara Kenya, Nippon Design Center.

Architecture for Dogs exhibition at Japan House London Design Festival 2020
Architecture for Dogs exhibition at Japan House London

The free exhibition features designs by world-class architects such as Ban Shigeru, Kuma Kengo, Sou Fujimoto, and Itō Toyō, each capturing the quality of the relationship between dogs and their people. A number of exhibits will be available for dogs to interact with, including a roadshow of several designs under consideration.

Architecture for Dogs allows guests to become architects themselves, encouraging the creation of new designs and offering downloadable blueprints for each of the exhibition’s works. The exhibition will run from 19 September 2020 for 18 weeks.

Jo Malone

Jo Malone London presents a new collection for the home: Jo Malone London will be opening the doors of its Marylebone based Georgian Townhouse virtually to exclusively launch and introduce The Townhouse Collection: a new selection of scented candles created specially for the home alongside the British fragrance house’s existing collection of Candles,
Diffusers and Home Sprays.

Marylebone based Georgian Townhouse, setting for the exclusive virtual launch and introduction of Jo Malone London's New fragrance collection, Townhouse
Marylebone based Georgian Townhouse, setting for the exclusive virtual launch and introduction of Jo Malone London’s New fragrance collection, Townhouse

The brands Head of Global Fragrance, Celine Roux will be hosting an exclusive invite-only live session for Global Interiors & Design Press on 14th September. Followed by an additional live virtual event on 16th September for consumers to join via the brand’s social channels.

Musicity Expo curated by Nick Luscombe and Clare Farrow

Musicity Expo is an exciting new digital meeting-place of international architecture and sound art, presenting visions of the future in response to some of the global issues of our time. Curated by Nick Luscombe, BBC Radio 3 presenter and founder of the site-specific sound/arts practice Musicity ( – in collaboration with London writer and curator Clare Farrow (clarefarrowstudio), who specialises in architecture, design, and music.


Launched for London Design Festival 2020, this travelling and lasting project begins with the work of 7 inspirational architects, including Daniel Libeskind, Elsie Owusu, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, Lily Jencks, and, matching their concepts for the future (unrealised, “impossible”, imagined) to 7 composers / experimental sound artists, and in the process exploring the links between architecture and music.

At a time of profound change, of physical and sensory disconnection, when issues of health, inequality, and climate emergency are also bringing us closer together on digital platforms, Musicity Expo sets out to forge new meetings and dialogue through architecture and sound.

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