FEED YOUR MIND: MELINDA MARQUARDT'S TOP PICKS FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THE 2022 LONDON DESIGN FES
The London Design Festival kicks off this week (17-25 September), and designophiles from all over the globe are descending on the Big Smoke for special events, exhibits, showroom tours and more. And because this year marks the 20th anniversary edition of the festival, there’s a lot to see and experience across the nine-day programme. But LDF is also about celebrating London’s status as the global centre of design—and having fun. To that end, Melinda Marquardt, principal and designer of The Vale London, shares her not-to-miss stops for hitting the ground running and soaking it all in.
Take In the William Kentridge Exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts
Large in scale and ambitious in scope, the William Kentridge exhibit (24 and 25 September during the festival, but ongoing through 11 December, 2022) will transform the Royal Academy’s Main Galleries for the biggest exhibition of the South African artist’s work in the UK. Kentridge’s globally acclaimed practice spans across etching, drawing, collage, film and sculpture to tapestry, theatre, opera, dance and music. Many pieces have never been seen before, and some have been made specifically for the show. Afterward, grab a drink at Maison Assouline, the publisher’s international flagship store—and a temple to style, culture and art—that’s set in a historic building in London's Piccadilly. For dinner, snag a reservation nearby in the heart of St. James at Fallow, the best new restaurant in London for conscious gastronomy.
Peruse the Japanese Design Curation at The Shop at Japan House London
Located on Kensington High Street in the Brompton Design District, Japan House is the cultural home of Japan in London, and always features a host of free events and multisensory exhibitions. During LDF, as part of its partner programme, Japan House will be spotlighting Japanese Design Through Award-Winning Products with a special curation of wares at The Shop at Japan House London. While you’re there, fuel up on Japanese-style omotenashi hospitality at the Michelin-listed restaurant, AKIRA. Visit for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner to experience this theatre of cooking as chefs prepare dishes reflecting Japan’s diverse food offerings, using seasonal ingredients over roaring robata (charcoal grill) flames. Highlights of the menu include imaginative sushi specialities and chargrilled kushiyaki skewers made from umami-rich wagyu beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables.
Check Out Central Saint Martins and Shop Coal Drops Yard
Central Saint Martins, London’s world-famous arts and design college in Granary Square, is the epicentre of London’s avant-garde scene, and where the city’s next-gen artists and rising-star designers exhibit their work. Marquardt recommends checking out the PEARL exhibition in the Shoreditch Design Triangle at SEASON gallery, an installation of works by former Central Saint Martins’ BA Jewelry Design students. For a fabulous lunch nearby in Kings Cross, head to Coal Office for an immersive dining experience mirroring the unique traditions found throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. (Just keep in mind that it can be a pesky reservation to secure, so start early and check availability often.) Plus, the adjacent Coal Drops Yard is filled with cute and trendy pop-ups and fab shopping—a great way to stretch your legs after indulging in Jerusalem-style pretzels and tempura zucchini blossoms.
Browse the Pimlico Road Design District and Attend the Showroom Events
The Pimlico Road Design District has long been an esoteric destination for discovering brands that cater to the discerning designer and collector. A fraternity of world-class craftspeople, artisans, curators and makers, you can spend an entire day popping in and out of the showrooms, and the neighbourhood is going to be buzzing with activity during LDF. From festive happenings at Carl Hansen & Son furniture and Luke Irwin handmade rugs to de Le Cuona fabrics and Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, the Belgravia London website outlines some of the best, open-to-the-public showroom events during the festival so you can effortlessly plan ahead. For dinner on Pimlico Road, make a reservation at Hunan for out-of-this-world, Chinese small plates served in rapid succession.
Meet Melinda Marquardt of The Vale London and See the New Sloane Collection
Don’t miss The Vale London’s ‘Meet the Maker’ event on 21 September at the Nusom Collective London studio. This is a truly special event as Nusom’s studio is located within director Lucy Pye’s personal home. Marquardt has planned a luxe-yet-laid-back evening of canapés and collections where event-goers can touch, feel and ask questions about all of her brand’s beautiful wallcoverings and textiles, including the new Sloane collection, all of which are produced in the finest mills in Europe. Guests will also be the first to hear about The Vale’s new, online Home shop that’s launching this month! (Note: The Vale’s LDF event is first come, first serve—by invitation only—and limited spots are available. To inquire and request an invitation, click here.)
Attend Focus/22 at the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour
Billed as the ultimate international design and decoration show, Focus/22 at the Design Centre is where designers go to connect with hundreds of world-class brands, share ideas, and see what’s in store for the coming months. This year, thanks to a design collective from 600 global brands and more than 100 programmed events, the offering has never been stronger. From meet-the-designer sessions to product debuts and discovery tours, there are events tailored to every aesthetic and creative niche. The programme is now live online, including the pre-bookable Conversations in Design, the Design Centre’s lauded series of talks on the main stage. When it comes time for a break from the action (and crowds), Marquardt recommends ducking out to the nearby The Sands End pub for the best Scotch egg in town.