After seven glorious years, The London Design Festival has now produced an unruly, hyperactive little spawn.
In contrast to the manicured main festival, which runs all this week in venues across the city (watch our featured videos to see some of the work at the Oxo Tower), the anarchic child, the Anti-Design Festival, opens in The Gallery in Redchurch Street where messy desks and surreal performance art give the impression of entering the disordered bedroom of a delinquent but gifted teenager.
At the entrance, scrawled like graffiti is a neon sign above cinema style seating, it says simply: ‘what a bunch of cunts’, yes ATP is definitely an angsty teen. Round a corner a 6-inch model of a young girl lifts her t-shirt to reveal exposed intestines, and in the smoky main room, megaphones hang from makeshift wooden posts; they distort the voice of the speaker, the sound is not pleasant.
There are different talks and ‘audio infestations’ which change every night, but on Wednesday evening I was promised, “an opportunity for the audience to explore the relationship between academic and professional life and the role and responsibility of designers”. It featured contributions and talks by some impressive names, like Jonathan Barnbrook, James Allen, and Martin Bright of New Deal of the Mind.
Uber Collision: Epic Fail is a set of desks randomly placed, and covered with messy files, paper scraps and posters. No post-its though. You can rifle through and look at the computer screens and box files. One print-out, laid out like a newspaper reads: ‘must get early night tonight’, and underneath in smaller type ‘need to rest’. If they were filming a pilot show for The Apprentice, where toddlers take over an office, this would be the set. The sense of procrastination and pointlessness was so strong it made me want to do some filing.
The ADF is the brainchild of Neville Brody – the typographer and graphic designer involved in the cult fashion magazine The Face – in an attempted antidote to sanitised, corporate-sponsored design. It feels raw, but that’s not to say it’s not worth a look, and even if art isn’t your thing, there will be live music and performances every night this week, giving it a warehouse party vibe.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the irritatingly precocious teen is that he has an Aussie accent. Thirteen of Australia’s top designers are using the ADF to launch their work in the UK Expect still life and jewellery from funky New South Wales company Dinosaur Designs, quirky but functional interiors by Brisbane artist Alexander Lotersztain and eye-catching pots by Marc Pascal. Expect upcycling, braille wallpaper and hemp textiles.
So after a day looking at what the main festival has to offer, why not slum it in Hackney with art’s newest wild child? Don’t forget your Ritalin.