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V&A announces London Design Festival programme
Lund Point - Brendan Barry with Beyond the Box Young Cultural Producers. Image courtesy Brendan Barry, New York Skyscraper Camera Project, 2019.

LONDON.- A pavilion constructed from the world's lowest carbon footprint aluminium, a real-time growing couture gown worn by an artist robot, and the museum’s first in-person Friday Late for over a year have been announced as part of the V&A’s programming for London Design Festival 2021, running from 18-26 September.

This year – in the lead up to the UK hosting the most important international climate summit, COP26, in November – installations, projects, performances and events will explore design thinking in the challenge of climate change with projects focusing on a low-carbon future, the circular economy and climate justice. Projects curated by the V&A include Between Forests and Skies by Nebbia Works – an immersive, low-carbon aluminium pavilion that will appear to float in the pond of The John Madejski Garden at the V&A and allow visitors to enter and interact. Placeholders by Juliet Haysom and Aude-Line Duliere is an exercise in the circular economy, facilitating the reuse of the Aston Webb Screen stones as urban furniture on Exhibition Road. Paula Sello and Alissa Aulbekova’s fashion house Auroboros will showcase a real-time growing couture gown worn by Ai-Da – the world's first artist robot – that will grow and fall apart during the festival whilst Ai-Da draws a self-portrait that can be experienced virtually.

In response to the impact that the pandemic has had on opportunities for young people, for the first time as part of LDF the V&A will host a youth-focused area of the programme. Lund Point will involve the transformation of currently empty dwellings in a 23-storey tower block on the edge of the Olympic Park into a multi-lens camera obscura, alongside the creation of ultra large format analogue photographic prints, created by young adults from east London with artist Brendan Barry. Made on Location is an installation by RESOLVE Collective – the V&A Research Institute / V&A East Creative Youth Workers in Residence – with Blackhorse Responders, V&A East Youth Collective and other youth groups, created from recycled museum materials in The Grand Entrance, Cromwell Road. Design Can, and V&A Youth Collective, will host a day of ‘speed mentoring’ and workshops for 18–24-year-olds during LDF. On 24 September, the museum will host its first in-person Friday Late in over a year, featuring DJ sets, live performances, talks and installations with the aim of providing a platform for young designers.

LDF has curated Landmark Project Architecture + Reality (A+R), a mixed reality installation by Tin Drum and Sou Fujimoto in the V&A’s Raphael Court, which will examine structure, nature and visualisation. The presentation will take audiences on a journey of discovery while experiencing greater depth contours and physicality.

Digital Design Weekend, curated by the V&A Learning and Digital Programmes team, will also return this year on 25 and 26 September, where artists, designers and technologists will explore the theme of climate change through immersive installations, creative workshops, talks and interactive demonstrations. A preview of Digital Design Weekend will be showcased during Friday Late on 24 September. The annual Global Design Forum will explore these themes as well as design’s role in empowering social justice & resilience, how design is adapting and responding to urgent needs in connection with the environment and post-covid as well as digital futures.

Meneesha Kellay, lead on Festivals at the V&A, said: “The V&A programme for LDF has been carefully curated to address some of the biggest challenges facing society today. We have commissioned installations and will be hosting performances and events exploring design thinking and responses to the ecological crisis by emerging designers. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on young people and the opportunities afforded to them. For the first time as part of LDF at the V&A, we have created a youth-focused area in the iconic Grand Entrance to showcase work by the V&A and V&A East Youth Collective, RESOLVE Collective and young people from across east London. We have also collaborated with inclusive platform, Design Can, to hold a Mentoring Takeover during LDF. We are excited to have young people and their priorities at the heart of our activities for LDF this year.”

The annual London Design Festival at the V&A is a unique collaboration between the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, and London’s foremost contemporary design festival. Now entering the thirteenth year together as the official Festival hub, the programme will see iconic spaces within the V&A transformed by a collection of specially commissioned installations and displays by international contemporary designers, freely accessible for all to enjoy.

Ben Evans CBE, London Design Festival Director, said: “We are delighted to partner with the V&A once again. Over the years, our unique partnership has seen an extraordinary range of projects by some of the world’s most exciting designers created in response to the V&A’s buildings and collections. As the Festival Hub, the museum sits at the heart of Festival activity across the city. It’s the perfect place for visitors to begin their festival experience – to immerse themselves in the specially-created installations and displays, attend events, and experience the museum in new ways.

This year features a number of installations produced in collaboration between the V&A Research Institute and V&A East, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since 2016, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has supported the V&A Research Institute in an innovative programme of research projects, partnerships and residencies, aimed at opening up access to art and design histories and futures to new audiences as the V&A develops its new sites in east London.

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