An Insider’s Scoop on What to See at the London Design Festival’s Final Weekend
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An Insider’s Scoop on What to See at the London Design Festival’s Final Weekend

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By Jessica Dailey
Just two days remain to see all the buzz-worthy events and exhibitions at London Design Festival 2019.

The last weekend of a design festival is arguably the best time to visit: Everyone else has done the legwork to weed out the less-than-stellar shows, and you know exactly what to hit. Instagram can lead you to the most photo-worthy spots, and friends (or just people on the internet) can tell you the best shows they’ve seen. For Eva Franch i Gilabert, director of London’s AA School of Architecture, word of mouth is her preferred strategy for knowing what to see during a festival—that, and "lots of coffee." 

To make the most of the final weekend of the London Design Festival, we asked Eva Franch i Gilabert to share her LDF 2019 hot list. Below, she shares her must-see sites, the best neighborhood for architecture, what you’ll find on at the AA, and a few restaurants and bars for when you need a break.


 Eva Franch i Gilabert, the current and first female director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. 


What festival events or shows are you most excited about? 

Here're my recommendations: Bamboo Weaving by Kengo Kuma, in the John Madejski Garden at Victoria and Albert Museum; Sea Things by Sam Jacob, in the Grand Entrance at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Disco Carbonara by Martino Gamper, at Coal Drops Yard; Elora Hardy and IBUKU: Bamboo Futures, at V&A, the Blavatnik Hall; Granby Workshop, Kiosk N1C Unit 108, Lower Stable Street, King's Cross. 

What’s your take on trade shows? Are they worthy of a must-see list? Which London Design Festival trade show would be most worthwhile for a visitor?

Trade shows are the lifeblood of festivals. They give small scale designers an opportunity to show their work. If you can only hit one, try designjunction (open through September 22, King’s Cross).

How has the AA participated in the festival in the past? What are you doing differently?

Previously, we have done collaborations with different companies and brands, run student competitions, and displayed the results or organised programming. 

This year, we wanted to do something within the AA since previously our collaborations have been further afield at designjunction or as installations in public spaces. But we always like to do things a bit differently. So instead of staging a static exhibition or display, we decided to invite Antarctica 200 to run a live exhibition that would be constructed over the course of London Design Festival, inhabited and programmed by a global group of students, tutors and experts.  

Tell me about the ANTARCTICA 200 show that the AA will be hosting during the festival.

This year, we are organising an exhibition in our Gallery titled Architecture in the Extreme that showcases the work of Antarctica 200, a cross-disciplinary project conceived to research the evolution of Antarctic architecture, analyse the logistic and technological challenges of building in such an extreme environment, assess the physical and psychological consequences of polar inhabitation, and map the geopolitical, economic and environmental implications of the Antarctic Treaty System. Rather than a static exhibition, the gallery also plays host to a week-long workshop bringing together the different Polar Labs that have been initiated at the AA, Hong Kong University and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile to construct the Antarctic Architecture Archive. There will also be a week long programme of roundtables, talks and presentations.  

What’s the best London neighborhood for an architecture buff to go for a stroll?

King’s Cross

What are a few of your favorite cafes, restaurants, and/or bars?  

Circolo Popolare, an Italian trattoria in Fitzrovia; Roka, a contemporary Japanese restaurant;  The Coral Room, a cocktail and wine bar in Bloomsbury.

Give us the run down on your design-centered, to-see places in London.

Favorite gallery: Betts Project
Best design shop: Aram Store
Favorite building: BT Tower
Best book store: AA Bookshop, of course!
Most surprising place to find great design: London’s Parks and Gardens  


Thinking about booking a stay in London? Check out our recommended listing, courtesy of Curacity.

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