London Design Festival 2018 Medal Winners

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 Medal awarded:

The London Design Medal: the highest accolade bestowed upon an individual who has distinguished themselves within the industry and demonstrated consistent design excellence.

Design Innovation Medal: celebrates entrepreneurship in all its forms, both locally and internationally. It honours an individual for whom design lies at the core of their development and success.

Emerging Design Medal: recognises an impact made on the design scene within five or so years of graduation.

Lifetime Achievement Medal: honours a significant and fundamental contribution to the design industry over the course of a career.

Panerai London Design Medal: Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan is a Cyprus born British/Turkish Cypriot fashion designer. Known for his innovative approach to design, beautiful tailoring and an elegant minimalist aesthetic, Chalayan has also worked in film, sculpture and architecture. His work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and the Design Museum in London.

Below, we chat to Hussein about what it means to be a designer in London.

You were educated in both Cyprus and London. How do you feel these cities shaped you as a designer?

I was educated mostly in London. We moved to London when I was a year old, travelling back and forth between Nicosia and London, before permanently moving to England in my late teens. Naturally my multicultural upbringing inspired my outlook, and by being in London I have come to appreciate all these different influences in a more lucrative way.

What does London mean to you creatively?

It means that everything is possible, there are no boundaries that constrain your creative output, you can explore and navigate between different design disciplines and cultures easily. You regularly extend your ideas across disciplines.

What’s the difference between your approach to a fashion collection and a museum?

I approach my work through the same world view, but choose different media. The main difference that I see is that in fashion, the designer determines how long an audience see the clothes in a fashion show, and in a museum or gallery setting, the audience decides how long they take to look at a piece of work.

You have described yourself as ‘a weaver of different worlds’. What drives you as an innovative and futuristic designer?

I enjoy looking at different scenarios in the world, trying to understand them and discovering new connections between different facets of life. Influences from modern anthropology, politics, architecture, history, nature, the body, behaviour and technology all create the basis of a new project.

What are you most proud of in your career? I would say that I am most proud of the longevity (with all its ups and downs) of my career. I also value the loyalty of my team members, the people that I have met and the places I have visited, which would not have happened if it was not for the path I chose.

Emerging Design Medal: Grace Wales Bonner

Supported by Storey

Grace Wales Bonner graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2014, and just one year later was awarded Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards, followed by the LVMH Young Designer Prize. Informed by broad research that encompasses critical theory, composition, literature and historical sources, Wales Bonner explores a distinctive notion of luxury via a hybrid of European and African approaches. International stockists include Dover Street Market, Selfridges, 10 Corso Como, Joyce, Matches, The Webster and Galeries Lafayette. she has also presented at the Serpentine Gallery and the V&A, while also lecturing at Parsons in New York. 

We spoke to Grace about her creative career so far.

You studied, live and work in London – what does the city mean to you as a designer?

I am interested in the diversity in London, the concentrated interaction of many different perspectives and cultures coming together.

When graduating from Central Saint Martins, you voluntarily wrote a 10,000-word dissertation alongside your collection. How important is literature and academia to your designs?

My work is grounded in research and the process often starts through literature. I’m interested in creating an authentic world, via a web of connections from theory to literature, sound and aesthetics.

You have previously cited that in addition to literature; culture, film and music are an influence to you both personally and professionally. Do you believe London offers you this rich mix of content?

I appreciate how accessible art and culture is in London. Equally, it is really important for me to travel or to be between places to find inspiration.

You constantly remain innovative in your collections. Where do you find your inspiration?

I try to stay close to the people that inspire me, and this is often my muses, writers and artists. Travel also feeds my creativity, as well as the active ongoing process of research.

Design Innovation Medal: Neri Oxman

Supported by SAP

Neri Oxman is an architect, designer, inventor and professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she and her team – an experimental design practice by the name “the mediated matter group”, – operate at the nexus of fields such as generative design, digital fabrication, materials science, synthetic biology and ecology.

Her teams’ works include the Silk Pavilion (2013) a biologically augmented bucky dome woven by 6500 free-ranging silkworms on a robotically fabricated silk scaffold, as well as Vespers, a series of 3D-printed death masks augmented with pigment-producing micro-organisms.

Both projects explore what it means to design with, by and for nature in the bio-digital age, pointing towards the inevitable unification of “natural” and “artificial”.

Find out how Neri’s innovations are inspired by London below.

How do you view London as a design capital?

The Architectural Association was all I could have wished for as a student of architecture. The point was to be serious about design and serious about designing. It was there I learned that one must curate one’s life in order to truly create in the world. I cherished plays at The Globe; I relished films in Leicester Square, and sampled every fish & chips joint I could find on South Bank. London, I like to think, is the birthplace of my identity as a designer.

How did your time here shape your approach as a designer?

I arrived in London the year DNA synthesis was made feasible for about $1 per base pair. Digital designers were creating products, garments and buildings that were geometrically complex but materially homogeneous. All else was old-style: material applications, assembly methods and manufacturing traditions.

The disproportionate balance between innovations in fields such as synthetic biology and the virtually primitive state of digital fabrication shaped my fundamental ambition as a designer to move beyond shape into matter, beyond form into formation.

You’ve talked about moving from a built environment towards a grown one. What needs to change in order for this to become a reality?

We need to shift from consuming nature as a geological resource to editing it as a biological one. Over time we will see technologies that focus on the integration of functions rather than discrete applications. Consider, for example, a glass printed structure that functions as structure and solar harnessing skin. The sooner we can adopt this line of thinking, the quicker we will be able to combine programmatic requirements with environmental applications.

Lifetime Achievement Medal: Eva Jiřičná

Supported by Fortnum & Mason

Eva Jiřičná is a Czech-born architect based in London since 1968. A Royal Academician, CBE and royal designer for industry, she began her career at the Greater London Council, before moving on to the Louis de Soissons partnership and Richard Rogers partnership, where she was responsible for the interior design of the Lloyds of London building. she founded multidisciplinary practice Eva Jiřičná Architects in 1982.

Below we speak to Eva about her career in architecture in London.

Is there a method that unifies your interior or architecture projects?

When I was a student in Prague, it was considered a matter of course that an architect should be able to design a building or interiors at any scale. We were taught by the generation of architects who were active in all disciplines from urban planning to interiors or furniture – such as Le Corbusier, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos. When I did my masters at the Academy of Fine Arts, it only extended such principles.

What significance does London hold for you?

England and London specifically have given me everything I could have ever dreamed of living in Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s. In the first place it was freedom. Unless you have lived in a dictatorship, you cannot appreciate how precious freedom is. That, of course, includes professional freedom and professional opportunities.

What advice do you give to emerging designers or graduates today?

When I was working on my diploma project in Prague my professor asked me what kind of door handles I thought appropriate for my building. I objected by telling him that was not architecture, his reply was, “The next time we meet, make me a list of three things which are not connected with architecture”, and I am still looking... My advice to all emerging architects and recently graduated architects would be “join me in the search”.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am not specifically proud of anything in my career – I am just immensely grateful to everybody who has worked with me, who has entrusted me with a job. Everything in architecture involves teamwork and I have worked with so many magnificent people.