Art events have become a magnet for selfie-taking millennials. Observers (mostly older people, naturally) bemoan that young phone-wielding attendees are more concerned with creating content for their social media accounts than understanding the pieces on display.
The organizers of the London Design Festival however, credit the steady growth of their annual event to Gen Ys and their habit of sharing immersive art pieces on social media. The fest, which attracts an average of 3.3 million visitors from all over the world, is now on its 15th year. Says festival director Ben Evans, “We have a new audience that is self-taught, aware of technology, and design media. They are discerning as they as they are hungry to consume.”
This is probably why this year’s festival, which will happen from September 16 to 24 in venues all over the city, focuses on art works that are Instagram-mable. One example is from Camille Walala, who’s been dubbed as the “purveyor of positivity.” Called Villa Walala, the work is a soft “building-block castle” made of vinyl, sealed PVC inners, and industrial-strength nylon. Installed in the business district of Broadgate, the fan-inflated fantasyland serves as a stress-reliever with its playful pop of colors and stress balls.
Over at Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) on Cromwell Road is Transmissions. Placed inside the museum’s Tapestry Room, the installation was made by Ross Lovegrove to interpret the two-dimensional tapestries on display into a single three-dimensional sculpture. Made of Alcantara (marketed as an alternative to animal-made textiles), the almost snake-like work uses gold and silver threads to capture natural light and define its undulating form.
People looking for a fully engaging experience can view the Reflection Room inside the Prince Consort Gallery, also at the V&A. Flynn Talbot uses his signature orange and blue lighting to illuminate the gallery’s 35-meter-space. Reminiscent of the 1980s film Tron, it makes use of black reflective panels to create the illusion of a larger room.
Tourists from Asia who wish to attend the festival can book direct flights from these airlines: Singapore Airlines (from Singapore), Malaysia Airlines (from Kuala Lumpur), Cathay Pacific (from Hong Kong), and Thai Airways (from Bangkok).
Accommodations within close proximity to the venues mentioned include the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square (from US$660 per night), the Egerton House Hotel (from US$456 per night), and Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel (from US$184 per night).