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London Design Festival: Day 1

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Fighting a bit of jetlag and a few high-design, low-usefulness maps, I headed to the Brompton Design District for my first day of the London Design Festival. I started at festival headquarters, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and from there must have seen fifteen different exhibits. Here are the highlights.

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  Timber Weave is a massive installation by Amanda Levete Architects that greets visitors at the Cromwell Road entrance to the Victoria and Albert. The spiraling lattice form is made from American red oak and served as quite an impressive portal to the Design Festival.
    Timber Weave is a massive installation by Amanda Levete Architects that greets visitors at the Cromwell Road entrance to the Victoria and Albert. The spiraling lattice form is made from American red oak and served as quite an impressive portal to the Design Festival.
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  One the best things I saw all day was in the Raphael Cartoon room at the V&A, a giant gallery housing Raphael's depictions of the Acts of St. Peter and St. Paul. On the floor of the gallery was a series of textile-covered panels the Bouroullec Brothers arranged into two gentle slopes. Visitors were encouraged to take off their shoes and do whatever they wanted on the padded installation—most chose to lay down and look up, though one girl I saw danced and rolled her way back and forth across the floor. She had the spirit!
    One the best things I saw all day was in the Raphael Cartoon room at the V&A, a giant gallery housing Raphael's depictions of the Acts of St. Peter and St. Paul. On the floor of the gallery was a series of textile-covered panels the Bouroullec Brothers arranged into two gentle slopes. Visitors were encouraged to take off their shoes and do whatever they wanted on the padded installation—most chose to lay down and look up, though one girl I saw danced and rolled her way back and forth across the floor. She had the spirit!
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  Dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, who died of typhoid at age 42, this high-Gothic memorial was one of the more impressive things I saw all day. After all, you can't come to London just to see the modern bits when you're constantly surrounded with such stunning architectural history. I took this photo from a path in Hyde Park on my way to the Serpentine Pavilion.
    Dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, who died of typhoid at age 42, this high-Gothic memorial was one of the more impressive things I saw all day. After all, you can't come to London just to see the modern bits when you're constantly surrounded with such stunning architectural history. I took this photo from a path in Hyde Park on my way to the Serpentine Pavilion.
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  Swiss architect Peter Zumthor was tapped this year to design the Serpentine Pavilion, a small structure just next to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. From the exterior I didn't know what to make of the low, black box.
    Swiss architect Peter Zumthor was tapped this year to design the Serpentine Pavilion, a small structure just next to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. From the exterior I didn't know what to make of the low, black box.
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  Once inside, however, the space opened up quite nicely into a charming garden ringed with cafe tables and seating. As the day was lovely, the plants were resplendent and the sense of calm amidst the city was overwhelming. Hyde Park, just outside, was pretty spectacular itself.
    Once inside, however, the space opened up quite nicely into a charming garden ringed with cafe tables and seating. As the day was lovely, the plants were resplendent and the sense of calm amidst the city was overwhelming. Hyde Park, just outside, was pretty spectacular itself.
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  I loved this truck converted to a small coffee stand just outside the Serpentine Gallery.
    I loved this truck converted to a small coffee stand just outside the Serpentine Gallery.
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  Now back in the Brompton action, I visited a pop-up exhibition by Okay Studio, which claimed to show what happens when a bunch of British designers get left alone in a Dutch woodworking factory. The space of the show was between two shops in a kind of service alley.
    Now back in the Brompton action, I visited a pop-up exhibition by Okay Studio, which claimed to show what happens when a bunch of British designers get left alone in a Dutch woodworking factory. The space of the show was between two shops in a kind of service alley.
  • 
  Another great furniture exhibit was Whiteout put on by the Danish Cabinetmakers. In it I saw 38 prototypes for chairs, each a shade of white. The head of the show, Thomas Alken of Format Design, told me that some of these seats, done by a host of designers, may go into production. The goal was not "to please the market," but to do something more intuitive and expressive. I was certainly impressed. Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2011 London Design Festival.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!
    Another great furniture exhibit was Whiteout put on by the Danish Cabinetmakers. In it I saw 38 prototypes for chairs, each a shade of white. The head of the show, Thomas Alken of Format Design, told me that some of these seats, done by a host of designers, may go into production. The goal was not "to please the market," but to do something more intuitive and expressive. I was certainly impressed. Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2011 London Design Festival.

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

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