London Design Festival: Capital ideas for interiors

From retro Finnish crockery to soft furnishings made at her Majesty's pleasure, Caroline Roux previews the best of this year's show
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The Independent Online

The London Design Festival, now in its eighth year, hasn't stopped growing, now comprising some 200 events all over the city from 19 to 26 September. Some are huge: there's the 100% Design trade show at Earl's Court with more than 400 exhibitors; the Victoria & Albert Museum, which hosts everything from talks, exhibitions and parties to an extravagantly decorated staircase by the artist Stuart Haygarth; and Tent in east London, where more junior design contenders show their wares. But it's often the smaller affairs that offer the greatest inspiration.

Tramshed: Just good furniture

Want to see good-quality contemporary furniture? This great industrial space in Shoreditch promises to round up some key design labels, including Matthew Hilton, who produces some of London's most consistently likeable furniture; Ilse Crawford, the designer behind the soft, sexy and slightly shabby Soho House look; the impressive Turkish company Autobahn; the clever young Dutchman Dick van Hoff; and Benchmark, purveyors of great British wooden furniture, who will be producing pieces in situ and, more importantly, running a bar. If all this whets your more consumerist appetite, then nip round the corner to London's best purveyor of contemporary design, SCP, and snap up something by the new brand All Lovely Stuff, a range of homewares with humour that include the cheeky Cheesey Pete cheeseboard to the Bear Face mirror for starters.

Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street, London EC2

Nendo: Japanese high design

Fool the design-obsessed into thinking you're one of them by dropping the name Nendo – the seven-strong Japanese team are quite simply the current darlings of the design world. They get not one but two shows: at the ultra-chic Saatchi gallery off King's Road, and in the exquisite spaces of the auction house Phillips de Pury in Victoria. The first, called Thin Black Lines, features completely new work in bent tubular steel. The second reprises earlier pieces to give a strong sense of what they have achieved so far, including the unbelievably strong but slender Cord chair and the magical Fade-Out chair whose legs seem to disappear into thin air. And remember, whatever you really think, declare that you absolutely love them.

Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London SW3 4SQ

Phillips de Pury, Howick Place, London, SW1P 1BB

The Dock: going Dutch

It's all going to be happening at The Dock, in the uppermost reaches of Ladbroke Grove. This place has history – it was once the HQ of Virgin Records – and now has a future, thanks to the British designer Tom Dixon. Not only is he opening his flagship shop here on 20 September, selling his own products, including the Jack stacking light and a new range of accessories, the Dutch design company Moooi, will also launch its first London showroom here. Also, Brompton Bicycles will be launching a limited edition copper-covered bike; New Caribbean Design will showcase fresh talent from the islands; and work by Fine Cell Work (handmade pieces produced in 29 British prisons) will be on sale. Another good reason to come, though, is the Dock Kitchen, where the rising star Stevie Parle, who previously cooked dinners all over town with his Moveable Kitchen, has now settled, serving excellent food overlooking the Grand Canal.

344 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5BU (

Simon Heijdens: Moving wallpaper

Simon Heijdens studied experimental film before going on to product design and has combined both in his work with digital media. Using bespoke software programming and sensors, he fills space with moving imagery that responds to human interaction and "grows" over time. Here, Gallery Libby Sellers (which specialises in promoting pioneering design talent) is bringing Heidjens to the Andaz, the deluxe hotel at Liverpool Station, to fill the 1901 bar with an installation called Branches, where a canopy of projected foliage will change continually depending on activity inside the hotel, and the weather outside.

Andaz, 40 Liverpool Street, London ECM 7QN. 21-26 September

Established & Sons: Designers at work

If it's performance you're after, head for Established and Sons, where artists and designers will create work live in the British company's usually serene St James's gallery. Established is now known for its perfectly contemporary, properly slick range of design from a classy stables of names including Jasper Morrison and Jaime Hayon. This, though, is about the process as much as the end result. The artists Richard Woods and Gavin Turk and the design duo Committee (best known for their Kebab lamp, composed of existing artefacts including ceramic figurines, vases and saucers, skewered into a column) are among those taking part.

2-3 Duke Street, St James', London SW1

Monday 20 September to Sunday 26 September, 10am to 6pm (

Barber Osgerby & Rolf Sachs: Open studios

It takes a long time for design to get to the shop or gallery floor, and both these open studios, belonging to markedly different designers and in equally different parts of town, will give a rare glimpse into what lies beneath the perfect products we like to buy. The east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby work for all the top producers – from the Italians Flos and Cappellini to the Japanese giants Sony. See how their slick designs emerge from ideas to reality. The wealthy Swiss designer Rolf Sachs, on the other hand, creates limited-edition and one-off pieces that find their way into galleries and private collections. His studio is a place of fantasy and exploration, just like his work.

Barber Osgerby, 35-42 Charlotte Road, London ECA 3PG (

Rolf Sachs, Unit 3a, 101 Farm Lane, London SW6 1QJ (

HEL YES!: Finland is fabulous

This is one of those events which aims to change your mind about a place. Or not, if the Helsinki of your imagination is full of fabulous contemporary textiles, delicious food and strange tables capped by fragile structures fashioned from anorexic aspen branches. HEL YES!, a temporary restaurant and design show, brings you a Finnish talent cluster: the chef Antto Melasniemi, the textile designer Mia Wallenius, the fashion illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi, the designer Linda Bergroth (she did the tables) and others, all brought together to give Londoners a unique taste of Finnish food and creativity. The classic furniture house Artek and the glass and ceramic brand Iittala have also helped, loaning furniture and glassware. A long time in the preparation, even the crockery has its own story, slowly assembled in Helsinki as visitors to Melasniemi's Helsinki restaurants traded in an old Iittala plate for a free meal. For £25 you can enjoy a three-course feast that will combine traditional Finnish fare (fish roe, game and preserved plants) and more locally sourced ingredients. You might in reality be in the grimey Londonewcastle depot in Wenlock Road, N1, but you'll be transported to a Nordic wonderland none the less. 16 September to 3 October. ( 07505998053;