London Design Festival 2020 to launch full digital programme and freelancer portal

London Design Festival 2020 returns on 12-20 September for its 18th edition of London Design Festival with a heavy focus on digital and online content to showcase the UK design community's work. The festival will have a strong local focus and will be "a Festival for Londoners".

The festival will still include its annual Landmark Projects and Festival Commissions, partner events across this year's Design Districts and 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. The 2020 edition will also unveil a new digital portal for freelancers to promote their work across the Festival’s platforms. More info on those below.

London Design Festival Director, Ben Evans CBE says: “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."

Landmark Projects

  • The Hothouse by Studio Weave (Redman Place, International House, E20 1JQ) - a large scale installation structure, reminiscent of a Victorian glasshouse, will provide a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate creating an edible jungle of exotic and unusual species. The Hothouse will be in situ for a year.
  • The Circular Design Project by SAP, The Ellen Macarthur Foundation and London Design Festival - a selection of stories and supporting resources to empower and equip the design and creative community around the circular economy as a framework for positive global impact. Following the Festival, the stories will continue and will be presented at design promotion events across the world, culminating at London Design Festival 2021 with an installation and exhibition, before being presented at COP26 at Glasgow in November 2021.

Other Festival Commissions, Special Projects and more

  • Unity by Marlene Huissoud supported by Coal Drops Yard (Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross Design District) - French designer Huissoud invites visitors to stand in a circle two metres apart surrounding the installation. Controlled by footpumps, visitors will work together in a symbol of strength and hope, to breathe life into the piece. If no one is pumping, the installation will deflate and loose its power and vitality. The installation has an intention to send a message of optimism: by standing strong together, we have the tools and power to create a better world and change the system.
  • 'Connected' by various designers and created by the Design Museum, Benchmark Furniture and the American Hardwood Export Council - Connected is an experiment set out to explore how designers and craftsmen adapt their working practices during lockdown. Nine international designers will create a table and seating which will suit their new ways of working from and living at home and record their creative journeys. The designers involved in Connected include Heatherwick Studio (UK) and Studio Swine (UK / Japan). All nine designs will all be displayed together virtually, and then exhibited at the Design Museum in the autumn celebrating the act of coming back together – reconnecting – after lockdown.
  • Virtual Design Destination by Adorno - Discover curated country collections of collectible design presented on fourteen country pavilions virtually during the event, launching two collections per day over seven days. The theme for this year's Virtual Design Destination by Adorno will be “The New Reality”.
  • Focus/20 - 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 Districts 2020 - Shoreditch Design Triangle, Brompton Design District, King’s Cross Design District, Marylebone Design District and Mayfair Design District
  • Design Routes - William Morris Design Line through Walthamstow and Blackhorse Road
  • Featured Partner Events - Japan House launches the internationally-acclaimed Architecture for Dogs exhibition on Saturday 19 September 2020 for 18 weeks as part of London Design Festival, the first Euopean destination for the exhibition. The free exhibition features designs by world-class architects 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. 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. Octagon by Tom Dixon - Tom Dixon will open The Coal Office for design enthusiasts to explore eight different architectural spaces to celebrate the multifaceted nature of their global brand. 

Supporting freelancers

This year, London Design Festival has created a freelancer portal where freelancers can share design content and their portfolio with the Festival audience. Freelancer content will be presented in a dedicated online gallery and featured as spotlights per week on the homepage and across social media. It is also removing the paywall from the dedicated membership content so that everyone has free access to the library of design-led content. Hear from world-leading designers in conversation with Justyna Green, Bethan Ryder, Vince Frost and Grant Gibson; enjoy long reads and articles; and experience virtual exhibitions, tours and events from Partners across the creative industries. Freelancers can register here.

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. V&A and London Design Festival will work together on an exciting digital programme, sharing virtual tours of the museum with the festival’s audience online.

London Design Medals 2020 supported by SAP

Each year, London Design Festival recognises the contribution made by leading design figures and emerging talents to London and the industry, with four London Design Medals awarded: The London Design Medal, Lifetime Achievement Medal, Emerging Talent Medal, and Design Innovation Medal. This year, the awards ceremony will take place virtually, on the evening of Monday 14 September 2020, supported by SAP.

Global Design Festival 2020

This year Global Design Forum will take place online. Further details on the programme and speaker line up will follow over the coming weeks. 


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