Bringing people together at Brompton Design District

By Sujata Burman

“Conviviality comes from the latin word, convīvere, to live together,” says Jane Withers at the LDF23 First Look. Withers is the curator of Brompton Design District, and the theme for this year is ‘Conviviality - The Art of Living Together’. “We are always interested in topical themes and conviviality is a good issue to explore through this lens as designers are skilled at using design as a tool to bring people together.” While Brompton is the oldest LDF district, the experiments within this year’s programme uncover new facets of the area, and this comes in the form of group residencies, party hosting and working with the local community.

Collaborating with Mind Kensington, the Kensington & Chelsea Volunteer Centre and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation is design collective All in Awe. Their outdoor installation addresses the subject of loneliness as a universal experience. “On the surface Kensington is such an affluent area,” says Withers. “But there are other sides to the borough. The research of All in Awe was fascinating.” The social enterprise, founded by Eva Feldkamp, discovered that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has the highest proportion of one-person homes in the UK across a diverse range of incomes. The exhibition at Egerton Gardens “will show the statistics in an approachable way,” explains Withers. “It will be a site for activation for different groups, and will look outside to voices that might not be part of the festival.”

“What is a convivial design process and how can it catalyse creativity?”

Elsewhere at creative hub Cromwell Place, London-based maker and designer Rio Kobayashi’s first solo show reflects on relationships. The pieces on view are the result of collaborations that engage with different people in his life, including DJs, graphic designers and artists. Titled ‘MANUS MANUM LAVAT,’ Latin for ‘One hand washes the other,’ the exhibition explores the core pillars of Kobayashi’s work: bringing people together and having fun. A diverse group of designers, studios and architects also come together for ‘The Farm Shop’, a project curated by Marco Campardo, Guan Lee and Luca Lo Pinto. Following a summer residency at research facility, fabrication workshop and living-working Grymsdyke Farm in Buckinghamshire, the group produced dining homewares. “These will be in a dining installation, but quite an unexpected one,” Withers remarks.

What should be prioritised in terms of being inspired and expression of self, the clothing we wear or the spaces we inhabit? This is the question Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos are asking with their display, ‘Phase 2’. Looking at the conviviality between interiors and fashion, they find synergies in sustainability, longevity and authenticity from both industries, and will feature hand-knotted rugs, clothing, painted and lacquered furniture and more.

Brompton Design District is home to the V&A and Design Museum, as well as a host of eclectic design brands. With over 35 events and exhibitions taking place during the festival, visitors can discover new showrooms at Occhio and Sub Zero & Wolf, while celebrated design companies Cassina, Molteni&C and Poltrona Frau amongst others will reveal new furniture for the first time in the UK.

“Can design spark empathy or camaraderie? Creative friction or resolution?” asks Withers. “Moreover, what is a convivial design process and how can it catalyse creativity?” Find out in Brompton this LDF23.