1 June 2023

John Sorrell is stepping back from his role as Chairman of London Design Festival twenty years after founding the world famous event with Ben Evans in 2003.

The aim was to create an annual event that would celebrate London as the design capital of the world and promote the city’s creativity as a vital part of the UK’s world class creative industries. 

In a speech at the Globe Theatre in 2002, John quoted the playwright Ben Johnson’s prologue to The Alchemist to illustrate his idea. “Our scene is London” proclaimed Johnson. "This festival will mix fireworks and contemplation. It will not be confined to convention centres and exhibition halls, it will spill out into the streets and take over the whole city”. Twenty years on, London Design Festival has delivered its promise, become a key moment in the global design calendar and provided the model for other annual design events in cities across the world. 

John is also stepping back from his role as President of London Design Biennale which he and Ben founded in 2016. The Biennale is a platform for international collaboration through design, exploring its global role with an exhibition and installations by countries and cities. John says, “The mission is very ambitious. Design is a universal language and the Biennale gives us all an opportunity to have a conversation about how design can solve problems and help make the world a better place”.

We thank John for his vision and direction throughout the years.


Sir John Sorrell CBE

Co-founder, Director

Ben Evans CBE

Head of Business Development

Beth Davies

Head of Content

Sujata Burman

Digital and Marketing Manager

Rebecca Mitchell

Finance Manager 

Tahir Ali

Festival Manager and GDF Programme Director

Jessica McFarlane

Project Manager

Kirsteen Martin

Partnerships Managers

Bree Marsden

Rachael Hymas

Partnerships Assistant 

Lucy Swift


Bianca Gidwani

Graphic Design & Identity