V&A London Design Festival

Originally planning on attending the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition, but chickening out when we saw the size of the queue, we were drawn instead to the huge, neon sign declaring “London Design Festival 2017”. 

Somehow, despite both being interested in design, especially with the technology-based spin of this year’s festival, my boyfriend and I had managed to make it the whole week with absolutely no awareness that this event was taking place, which was a shame as it would have been nice to have the time to see the more of the installations, especially those outside of the V&A. However, it was the last day of the festival, so we decided to cram in what we could!

The best way to do this seemed to be by taking one of the guided tours, which we hoped would show us the edited highlights as well as cutting out the getting-lost-and-distracted time we’d likely fall prey to on our own. Unfortunately, the staff at the help desk seemed really rather uninterested in giving us any details and, frankly, the volunteer tour guides had little more to offer than what we could have read ourselves on the signs.

Our guide took us to see about 5 of the V&A-based installations, including a textile made using colour sampling, a light fixture containing photosynthesising algae to improve air quality, and a tower made of completely freestanding interlocking bricks.

The highlight for me (which we went back to explore properly on our own later) had to be the full exhibit on the Bregenz Festival stages. A fully-fledged exhibit, rather than just a single installation, it was amazing to see all the different design miniatures, and all the effort that went into making the latest full-size one. Definitely worth staying to watch the full video if you can – but it closes November 5th, so hurry!

The low point for me was Flynn Talbot’s reflection room. Whether intentional or not, the neon-lit room had turned into a complete Instagram-trap.

Miniature photoshoots clogged up every corner of the room, making it almost impossible to walk through, let alone fully appreciate. In addition, as soon as you got close to the edges of the room you began to see all of the weird, clammy condensation, oily fingerprints, and (yes really) lipstick kisses left on the work’s PVC panels, which somewhat takes away from the ‘immersive colour experience’. You could get a glimpse of the gorgeous ideals behind Talbot’s work by looking up at the beautifully-lit vaulted ceiling, but unfortunately the main experience was one of some kind of alternative nightclub.

I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for London Design Festival 2018, but next time, I think we’ll go it alone. Ultimately, all of the installations were really interesting, and by just skipping through the most popular ones, you unfortunately also need to deal with the crowds which, in this Instagram-Model age, is best avoided if you’re actually there for the art.

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