A First Look at LDF23

London Design Festival’s 21st edition will take place 16 - 24 September 2023. Below, take a peek into this year’s programme.

On 18 July, we hosted the LDF23 First Look cocktail at sketch London and was joined by designers and curators to discuss what’s in store for September. LDF director Ben Evans kicked off the evening by painting a picture of where the design scene is in London right now. “We have got the biggest creative economy of any global city. And I think that’s why it’s so important to showcase events like this. Talent pipeline is essential in our industry. We wanted to reach out to younger designers who are entering the market, and give them an easier way to engage with the festival this year with our Launch Pad partnership.” This was followed by the revealing of our 2023 identity by Pentagram, ‘Stretching Ideas,’ Landmark Projects, Design Districts and much more...

“London Design Festival is a highlight in the cultural calendar, which the Mayor and I are delighted to support. It celebrates the design excellence and talent of our creative community and showcases London’s position as a global design capital. The creative industries are playing a pivotal role in our economic recovery, bringing together people from all backgrounds and supporting young and emerging creative talent as we build a better London for everyone” - Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, London

Landmark Projects

2023 marks the 300th anniversary of Sir Christopher Wren’s death. London Design Festival supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies takes the opportunity to delve into the legacy of the extraordinary architect and polymath through a modern lens. By collaborating with contemporary designers, the Festival aims to provide fresh insights into Wren and his collection of architectural masterpieces.

The two Landmark Projects which will form part of the Wren 300 celebrations will serve as a means of engaging with his architectural and scientific heritage, as well as exploring how his works remain relevant and inspiring in the present day. Through innovative responses and creative interventions, the Festival seeks to infuse these spaces with contemporary perspectives, celebrating Wren's enduring influence and showcasing his significance in the 21st century.

At St Paul’s Cathedral, London Design Festival in association with Artichoke will present 'Aura' by Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena. The installation approaches what a temple means in today’s world and examines the potential of time, sound and light to create contemporary rituals. 'Aura' is a live installation that transforms the sounds present in the cathedral into a pulsating line of light projected at an architectural scale. The piece is deeply intertwined with the context and fabric of Wren's masterpiece. It introduces new ideas while seamlessly integrating into the building and its daily life as if it had been part of the original design. 'Aura' listens to the sound, voices and music generated in St Paul’s and materialises them into a spectral, three-dimensional aura that enhances the ritual aspects of this space.

Moritz Waldemeyer will present 'Halo' a transcendent light installation within St. Stephen Walbrook Church. The conical pendulum traces a celestial path around Henry Moore's famed altar, evoking planetary motions and creating an ethereal Halo. Slow colour transitions on the grand dome, inspired by natural phenomena like the aurora borealis, amplify the meditative aura. 'Halo' transcends religious affiliations, inviting viewers from all walks of life to immerse themselves in a unified appreciation of history, art, and spirituality. It is a captivating journey into the past and an evocative exploration of the celestial, encouraging the modern viewer to find spiritual resonance within the timeless and the ethereal.

Festival Commission

Simone Brewster in collaboration with Amorim will present ‘Spirit of Place’ on The Strand, an installation of five large scale sculptural vessels. This family of objects, ranging up to 2.5m, represents Amorim’s cork forest at Herdade de Rio Frio, Portugal. The future of the cork oak forest will be secured by four key traits: upright expression, drought resistance, regenerative growth and biodiversity conservation. These four characteristics act as the foundation for the visual language of the piece, with Brewster translating each factor into a visual equivalent that can then be experienced and enjoyed in the centre of London.

Special Projects

Inspired by powerful Buddhist principles, the Rubin Museum’s 'Mandala Lab' in Canary Wharf is an interactive space designed to explore challenging emotions and consider how to transform them into wisdom. The freestanding structure contains a metaphoric floorplan for our emotional well-being, featuring five thought-provoking, playful experiences that guide you along an inner journey focused on self-awareness and awareness of others.

Multi award-winning artist Morag Myerscough has partnered with LDF automotive partner MINI to unveil an immersive installation at Shoreditch Electric Light Station. This vibrant journey into the future teases the brand's exciting vision, where tradition and technology collide, to create greener and more abundant urban environments. Morag's unique use of space and captivating designs perfectly align with MINI's values and commitment to enhancing urban city life.

LDF at V&A Museum

See iconic spaces within the V&A Museum transformed by an extraordinary collection of specially commissioned installations by international contemporary designers during London Design Festival.

This year's projects explore the global power of design to bind communities, reveal untold stories and rethink our relationship with materials:

‘Part exchange’ by Andu Masebo - this year’s V&A Emerging Designer commission - retells the life story of a scrapped car through a series of objects inspired by the people whose lives it touched over 25 years. Drawing on conversations with previous owners, the components of an Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf have been reconfigured into domestic furnishings.

Together with the Gifu Prefecture in Japan and London based Hayatsu Architects, the V&A presents a Hana Mikoshi or ‘flower shrine’. Inspired by the ‘Mino Matsuri festival’, this sculptural seating installation will be decorated with 50,000 sakurainspired washi paper flowers handcrafted by craftspeople in Japan. The flowers will be applied to the structure by visitors to the V&A throughout the summer.

In ‘But She Still Wears Kohl and Smells like Roses’, Palestinian architect, artist and V&A Jameel Fellow Dima Srouji presents objects and film that reframe the history of glass in Greater Syria and Palestine. The new works include replicas of glassware from the V&A collection excavated from the region. The original vessels currently on display will be replaced with ‘tomb cards’ narrating the often-violent histories linked to their excavation.

‘Unstruck Melody’ is a collaboration between British-born Canadian artist Nirbhai (Nep) Singh Sidhu and UK arts organisation Without Shape Without Form. They bring together their practices of spirituality into a new installation. Tapestry, sculpture and film create moments of self-discovery through contemporary Sikh teachings while exploring their impact on design now.

‘Maya: The Birth of a Superhero’ is an immersive installation and VR experience by Poulomi Basu & CJ Clarke. It follows Maya, an ordinary 21st Century girl, as she transforms into a superhero whose powers derive from menstruation, in an odyssey of womanhood. The work is inspired by Basu’s law changing impact art project ‘Blood Speaks’ about menstrual exile and violence against women in South Asia.

Design Districts

From North to South, East to West, the Design Districts are a key component of the Festival makeup. Each District has its own unique personality that reflects the local community and enables visitors to explore events a short walking distance from each other.

The Design Districts of this year’s Festival will be: Bankside Design District, Brompton Design District, Greenwich Peninsula, Islington Design District, Mayfair Design District, King’s Cross Design District, Park Royal Design District, Shoreditch Design Triangle and Southwark Design District.

These will be joined by four new districts for 2023: Dalston to Stokey Design District, Battersea Design District, Chelsea Design District and Fitzrovia Design District.

Global Design Forum

Global Design Forum will return to the V&A for five days of programming covering some of the most challenging and exciting topics that designers currently face. Partners this year include SAP, Pearlfisher, Istituto Europeo di Design and UAL.

Design Fairs

As part of the Festival programme, London Design Festival hosts major trade and consumer shows, formerly known as Design Destinations. These are the commercial pillars of the Festival and are key meeting places for designers, manufacturers, buyers, specifiers, the media and design enthusiasts to discover new product releases and identify current trends.

LONDON DESIGN FAIR makes its much-anticipated return to the international design calendar on 21–24 September. The largest commercial exhibition during London Design Festival, the Fair is the leading showcase of cutting-edge design, brands, international pavilions, and makers. The fair returns to Truman Brewery in Shoreditch and visitors will enjoy talks and interactive workshops, as well as discover exciting new designs, installations and trends.

MATERIAL MATTERS After last year's hugely successful debut, the Material Matters fair will return to Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf as part of the Bankside Design District. The fair, which runs Wednesday 20 - Saturday 23 September will bring together worldleading brands, designers, makers, and innovators to investigate and celebrate the importance of materials and their ability to shape our lives. The refreshed line-up includes Headline Sponsor, UK lighting specialist Bert Frank and the Milan-based platform Isola and much more.

Graphic Identity by Pentagram


Since 2007, world-renowned creative agency Pentagram, have produced an annual graphic identity for each iteration of the Festival - responding to, and anticipating trends in design and typography.

Certain elements of the identity remain constant - the Festival’s colour palette of white on red has been proved to be one of the Festival's most recognisable elements. This has allowed Pentagram to adapt the brief each year to produce distinctive visual identities ensuring that each year the Festival remains dynamic and interesting. Domenic Lippa, Partner at Pentagram, has led the creative direction of the branding and visual design for the Festival since its inception.

Domenic Lippa, Partner at Pentagram, said: "We approach each year with excitement and enthusiasm. I have always believed the reason we've been able to create new directions for the Festival is that different designers have contributed to the process over the years. I have always loved film and TV titles - they can instantly convey the themes within a short space of time. We started working with the typography with a nod to a cinematic feel. I love the way films can stretch one's experience and be dramatic in its form. The more acute and extreme the angles of these designs reflect the power and strength of the Festival itself”