The London Design Festival 2018 is underway and with it comes a host of events and exhibitions to enjoy. Building on last year, this year’s festival is awash with an array of colorful installations and exhibits. The Architect’s Newspaper took a look at the best to give a lowdown of what to catch in London this week.

Studio MUTT's 'Magician' character at the Sir John Soane's Museum

Studio MUTT’s ‘Magician’ character at the Sir John Soane’s Museum (Courtesy Studio MUTT)

Out of Character: A Project by Studio MUTT
At: Sir John Soane’s Museum

Exhibiting at Sir John Soane’s Museum must be both a dream and a nightmare. It is easily one of, if not the most, exquisite interiors in London and seldom do the exhibits manage to shout over the building they inhabit. Before Studio MUTT had a stab, Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture was on view and Out of Character seemingly follows from it, embodying the colorful virtues allied with the current PoMo revival.

In 1812, Sir John Soane imagined that in the future, those discovering his former home would presume that it was once occupied by four characters: a Lawyer, a Monk, a Magician, and an Architect. More than 200 years later, Studio MUTT realizes these characters architecturally, with each being defined by ornamental color and form. The architectural compositions can be found at different locations around the museum. Not only do they demonstrate the communicative capabilities of color and ornamentation, they work with the museum—each has been designed for its specific location—to produce delightful moments of architecture in conversation.

Mind Pilot (Courtesy Felix Speller, the Design Museum)

Mind Pilot by Loop.pH
At: London Design Museum

A mind-powered hot air balloon is floating around the London Design Museum. Via a virtual reality headset, visitors can control the helium-filled balloon, dubbed an “airship” by its designers Loop.pH, while suspended in a sling to amplify the sensation of flight. How does it work? With the aid of electrodes the headset is attached to the pilot’s head, which is then hooked up to a computer. Brain signals and pulse are translated into directions which are sent to robotics within the balloon, moving it around the Design Museum’s central lobby mezzanine. Visitors are prohibited from going too crazy thanks to a frame which the balloon is tethered to.

(Courtesy John Nguyen/PA Wire)

Alphabet by Kellenberger-White
At: Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate

Broadgate by Liverpool Street hosted a dazzling display from artist Camille Walala in 2017. This year’s installation, a series of alphabetic chairs from designers Kellenberger-White, is toned down a notch, but still provides transient bankers with a much-needed dose of play. The 26 chairs can (of course!) be sat on as well as be used to form words. Each chair is in a different color, selected from specialist paint producers used for projects involving industrial metalwork. Colors such as “International Orange,” used for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and “Cornflower Blue,” the color of Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge, have been used. The project comes from Kellenberger-White’s investigations into folded metal and draws influence from the Bauhaus, notably László Moholy-Nagy, Marianne Brandt, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld.

MultiPly by Waugh Thistleton Architects (Courtesy Matt Alexander/PA Wire)

MultiPly by Waugh Thistleton Architects
At: The Sackler Courtyard, Victoria & Albert Museum

British architecture firm Waugh Thistleton Architects has collaborated with engineers Arup and the American Hardwood Export Council to create MultiPly, a series of stacked timber Minecraft-like modules. Using 60 cubic meters of American tulipwood as cross-laminated timber (CLT), MultiPly aims to exhibit the benefits of modular architecture and the possibilities it provides. Staircases and walkways knit together the series of CLT boxes, creating a 3-D maze-like experience.

MultiPly is carbon neutral. Carbon emitted through creating MultiPly  (timber extraction, processing, transportation, and manufacture) was offset by the carbon stored in the timber and the potential energy from its incineration. The best thing about the project, though, is the view you get of Amanda Levete’s design for the V&A courtyard: a chance to see the project from a bird’s eye view and almost in plan, which is a satisfying experience.

Living Unit London by AKT II and OFIS Arhitekti (Courtesy Edward Bishop)

Living Unit London by AKT II and OFIS Arhitekti
At: Old Street Yard, Shoreditch

Micro-living hopefully isn’t the solution to London’s housing crisis, but London engineers AKT II and Slovenian studio OFIS Arhitekti‘s study into temporary micro-sized dwellings fuels debate on the subject and the minimum space requirements for inhabitance as well as how to arrange such spaces efficiently. Composed as three stacked volumes, each measuring 14.7 by 8.2 by 8.8 feet, Living Unit provides a kitchen, bathroom, bed, and seating, supplying accommodation for two people.

Like Waugh Thistleton Architects’ MultiPly, the project is modular, meaning units for a kitchen or bed can be easily added and taken away. Modules can connect vertically and horizontally, able to create space for four-to-six people. On their own, units can serve as a retreat, easily used as tree-house, holiday cabin, or hideaway. Living Unit is currently being auctioned off on eBay with the proceeds going to The Architecture Foundation.

(Courtesy Andy Stagg)

The Institute of Patent Infringement by Los Carpinteros
At: Victoria & Albert Museum

Since 2010, Amazon has filed 5,860 patents. That’s 732 every year. The Institute of Patent Infringement looks at these and hints a bleak digital future shaped by excessive patenting. The Institute exhibits the work of students, industrial designers, architects, urban planners, artists, programmers, and the wider public, which is invited to merge, reimagine, infringe, and hack existing Amazon patents. Traveling up from the Venice Architecture Biennale, the exhibition is housed within a timber latticed globe designed by artists collective, Los Carpinteros. Under the worrying overtone of Amazon’s digital hegemonic ambitions, The Institute of Patent Infringement is laced with humorous proposals that delve into the absurd.

Related Stories