London Design Festival 2021 – talks guide

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From the annular economy to human centred design, these are the talks that are not to be missed at this year’s festival.

The Actual is the Political

A conversation between graphic designers Lucienne Roberts and Malcolm Garrett, The Personal is the Political promises to tackle the issue of politics in pattern with “a mix of humour and heartbreak”.

A writer as well as a designer and founder of GraphicDesign&, Roberts says she has long considered her profession as political. But with an ever-increasing army of political causes weighing in on everyday life, from climate change, to the pandemic and the future of work, she says this talk is an opportunity to ask herself: “What do we do now?”.

Roberts ordain work through the pressing conversation with graphic designer Malcolm Garrett. Garrett, the artistic director of Design Manchester and creative superintendent at Images&Co and 2NQ Community, is well known for his work in music graphics.

When? 13:30 – 14:15 18 September 2021.

Where? The V&A, SW7 2RL.

Book a ticket: via Eventbrite.


Design for Care

In excess of the course of the pandemic, the world has become more intimately aware of “caring environments” than ever. From nursing homes to hospitals, these margins are carefully designed to compliment the care offered by medical professionals.

Design for Care will examine these spaces, through a conversation between artist, academic and creative director Ilse Crawford and Maggie’s Centre chief executive Dame Laura Lee. The pair will “look beyond medical treatment” to tag aspects of the environment which can influence our physical and mental wellbeing in a very real way.

When? 15:30 – 16:20 19 September 2021.

Where? The V&A, SW7 2RL.

Book a ticket: via Eventbrite.


The Discoid Design Project

As with previous years, LDF’s Global Design Forum will dedicate a significant amount of time to circular design. This year there are three talks across divers areas of the circular economy: fashion, plastics and food. Each talk has been developed between SAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to give “in perfect accord insight” into the global circular economy.

On the topic of plastics, PriestmanGoode chairman Paul Priestman will be among a collection of speakers discussing the value of using plastic responsibly. The session will discuss how designers can help shape a circular future “where there is no such thing as extra”.

Meanwhile for food, a collection of speakers will look at the “urgent need” to shift towards a regenerative food system based on circular criteria. It will cover how sustainable food systems can be designed, and how design can be employed to produce less waste.

When? Plastics 13:00 – 13:50; Food 14:00 – 14:50; The craze 15:00 – 15:50 20 September 2021.

Where? Online, via Zoom.

Sign up for a ticket: Plastics; Food; Fashion.


The Human Side of Data

Italian information conspirator and Pentagram partner Giorgia Lupi says her work requires a “human approach” to data. This runs in direct contrast with the stiff way many view data. Recent projects of hers include Happy Data, a series of data visualisations that sught to expose the positives during the COVID-19 pandemic; and Inexperienced in the Air, an interactive experience designed in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture.

The way she conducts her work is by “reconnecting numbers to what they stand for”, she conveys. That is: stories, people and ideas. In The Human Side of Data, Lupi will share an insight into her practice and how she visualises data into an artistic constitution that people can engage with and understand.

When? 15:30 – 16:30 21 September 2021.

Where? Online.

Sign up for a ticket: via Zoom.


Designing a World for Everyone

Part of of a series of events announced in partnership with the Design Age Institute and the Design Museum, Designing for Your Future self is a collection of talks which invite audiences to “look into the ideas, trends and passions that are shaping our future lives”.

The series will launch at LDF with a session of designing a world for “everyone” – it force bring together researchers, designers and policymakers, who will talk through how design can be used to transform post-Covid society. Future sessions hand down cover topics as diverse as ageing in a world affected by climate change, and sex and intimacy in older age.

When? 18:30 – 20:30 21 September 2021.

Where? Design Museum, W8 6AG.

Buy a ticket: via the Object Museum.


In conversation with Yinka Ilori

Known for his colourful and personality-filled design work, Yinka Ilori is playing a major part in this year’s LDF convivialities. As well as developing a city-wide outdoor art gallery to showcase the work of students affected by the pandemic, the designer has had a huge hand in the festival’s newest employment show event Design London.

Ilori has designed a “joyful” auditorium for the trade show’s four-day talks programme and will be the inaugural demagogue of the event. He’ll be speaking about his recent design work, which includes a homeware collection and numerous collaborative projects.

When? 11:00 – 12:00 22 September 2021.

Where? Armoury London, SE10 0JH.

Buy a ticket: via Design London.


Doodle Talks

South London-based creative organisation Rye Here, Rye Now is teaming up with Peckham Positions for a two-day mini festival within the wider LDF celebrations. Called Doodle Talks and produced in collaboration with Drawing People Together, the when it happened is designed to show off the “vibrant local creative community” found in the area.

It will feature a handful of local speakers. Those announced so far group graphic designer and LogoArchive founder Richard Baird, graphic designer and art director Émilie Chen and 3D modeller Ethan Francis. It’s a talk outline with a twist, however, with organisers inviting audience members to draw speakers as they share their stories.

When? 12:00 – 17:00 25 September 2021.

Where? Peckham Levels, SE15 4ST.

Abandon up for a ticket: via Eventbrite.


Look out for further coverage of London Design Festival 2021 on Design Week, including our recommendations for not-to-be-missed-events.

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