A fresh new book by the founder of Designers Guild
A design itinerary across London’s King’s Cross district
London Design Festival 2017: follow our suggested route through installations, exhibitions, architectures, pop-up shops and restaurants
Gateways, the site-specific installation by Adam Nathaniel Furman for Turkishceramics set at the entrance of the Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in Granary Square
Welcome to King’s Cross, one of London’s most buzzing neighbourhoods soon to wear the Creative Quarter’s fancy clothes (from Sept. 21st to 24th, 2017) on the occasion of the London Design Festival 2017. Right in front of what is probably the busiest railway station in Europe – a magic scenario where the prestigious Central Saint Martins College, a Google HQ’s, the British library and Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4 happily live side by side –, we gather to start an explorative journey across unmissable installations, exhibitions, restaurants and stores. First stop: Granary Square, the beating heart of Designjunction ((Sept. 21st-24th, 2017) which involves more than 200 brands and 5 locations – Cubitt House and Cubitt Park, The Canopy, Granary Square and The Crossing (along with the more traditional King’s Cross) –, all engaged in a magic tour through contemporary design, pop-up shops and temporary expos.
The outdoor stage is stolen by Gateways, a site-specific installation designed by Adam Nathaniel Furman for Turkishceramics as a tribute to Turkish artisanal traditions, and Bloomon, the Dutch flower kiosk with no less than a secret room. A few metres away, Renault UK is going to introduce the TreZor prototype (read also: Renault si fa elettrica) within a futuristic, interactive environment, along with a selection of projects resulting from the creative partnership with students of the Central Saint Martins. Walk past the gushing fountains and enter a massive former warehouse recently restored by Stanton Williams: now, you will delve deep into Creative Unions, a group exhibition stating how the contemporary world must be defined not by boundary or binary but connection, whilst celebrating the power of designers to challenge isolationism and struggle for a better future. The Canopy stands right on your right, meaning a temporary market with nearly 70 pop-up exhibiting brands where to grab some design must-haves before boarding your flight home.
The Canopy, a temporary market with nearly 70 pop-up exhibiting brands.
Along the way, you will bump into plenty of stunning architectures: indeed, at a stone’s throw away once crossed the canal, here’s the fluid Kings Place by Dixon Jones, and – weather permitting – it might be worth to snatch a break at the Rotunda Bar and Restaurant overlooking the Regent’s Canal, a real locals’ fave. Otherwise, you may take a walk along York Way and turn left on Handyside Street: once here, lift your eyes and enjoy the view of the office building R7 by Duggan Morris Architects (under completion) and residential complexes Saxon Court and Roseberry Mansions designed by McCreanor Lavington and Rubicon Court of PRP Architects – the neighbourhood is indeed going through a gentrification bonanza.
One last pic of Laurie Olin’s sparkling fountains in Lewis Cubitt Square, a glimpse of the Plimsoll Building by David Morley Architects, a quick look at The Gasholders by Wilkinson Eyre, and then – voilà! – the Gasholder Park made by Bell Philips within the premises of a formerly abandoned gasometer is ready to blow your mind. The original Victorian structure has been carefully dismantled and rebuilt on the opposite river bank, and now features a circular lawn where Londoners love to relax in sunny days. In 2018, the same area is expected to accommodate a brand new futuristic shopping quarter named Coal Drops Yard, a project by Thomas Heaterwick that aims to revamp a set of historic buildings built to transfer coal from rail to road.
The Gasholders, a peoject by Bell Philips within the premises of a formerly abandoned Victorian gasometer
On your way back, simply re-cross Granary Square and land to St. Pancras Square, the place where Google settled one of its London’s headquarters, and those living and working in the surroundings meet for a pint or a glass of wine after 5PM (don’t call it “aperitif”, it still doesn’t really exist in the UK). Speak of the devil? Campari is due to bring the genuine spirit of Milan to London by installing a customised barge nearby and giving away its world-famous bitter to passers-by.
Feel a bit hungry? Oh well, you have got plenty of choice: from the hyper-stylish German Gymnasium inspired to old European cafes – currently hosting Food Religion, an exhibition curated by Conrar + Partners and Studio Appétit –, to the more popular Granger & Co. Lastly, if dreaming on a good night’s sleep, our suggestions include the Pullman in Euston Road, the charming St Pancras Hotel & Spa, and the Great Norther boutique hotel.
Conran + Partners and Studio Appétit explore the boundaries of architecture, art, design, food and faith through the Food Religion installation
The hyper-luxury St Pancras Renaissance Hotel & Spa is featured inside the old Midland Grand Hotel designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
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