Futuristic design nestles in historic V&A for 2016 London Design Festival

An ocean frozen into marble waves and 50,000 mirrors that create an impression of being under the sea are wowing fans of the futuristic at the V&A for this year’s London Design Festival.

Since 2003, the festival has promoted the capital as a centre for innovative and inspirational designs and this year is no exception.

As the city is taken over with landmark projects showcasing the future of design, the festival’s hub is the V&A which highlights four major installations.

Designers also produced a series of gift shop trinkets as they were challenged to rethink tacky souvenirs into something worthy of the city.

The most impressive of the four is Benjamin Hubert’s piece Foil, a 20 metre long revolving ribbon of 50,000 hand-glued mirror triangles connected to a motor to slowly undulate a constant wave.

Designed in conjunction with Braun, the shimmering surface is meant to replicate the foil of the company’s shavers.

Moreover, LED lights aimed directly on to the surface project light all around the temperature-controlled gallery, giving the viewer the sense that they’re underwater.

“Really we wanted to create an immersive environment,” explained Hubert.

“It’s a relatively small piece in quite a large cavernous space but really for us the piece is this,” he said, pointing to the reflections on the ceiling.

Of the four, it is the piece that best balances artistic integrity with impressive mechanical engineering.

“Design is something experiential and memorable,” said Hubert.

“If you take something away from it and you remember it later, that’s what counts to us.”

Mathieu Lehanneur’s Liquid Marble employs movement through stasis.

Constructed from marble and designed using 3D software, the surface of the hand-polished piece replicates that of the ocean, yet movement only comes when the viewer walks around the exterior, light caressing the oily black surface.

“I wanted to cut a part of the ocean and bring the ocean into a museum,” said Lehanneur.

“My secret dream would be when the space is open to the public, that people will sit on that bench and spend time just like they would do in front of the ocean.”


For the third installation, design duo Glithero have mimicked the feel of a clock with their piece The Green Room, the name of which is taken from a term used by surfers within the barrel of a wave.

Six storeys high, it consists of a circular veil of multi-coloured cords that hang from a motorised revolving arm turning like the arms of a clock and was designed in collaboration with Italian luxury watch maker Panerai.

Lastly, Beloved from Tabanlioglu Architects reinterprets Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat through moving images viewed as fragments through cracks in a black, mirrored surface.

The main concept is to realise the way the human mind imagines scenes from a book as they read.

The London Design Festival runs until September 25.

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