Design London announces ‘Discussions at Design London’ its curated talks programme for 2021, featuring renowned industry influencers and thought leaders as part of this years’ London Design Festival.

Running from 22-25 September, Design London will be this year’s lead design destination for architects and designers during LDF, and is housed in a striking new venue just meters from North Greenwich station and vibrant new Design District. This week, the show announces its stellar line-up to the inaugural event’s talks programme, titled ‘Discussions at Design London’, including talks with Yinka Ilori, Henry Holland, Robi Walters, Pearson Lloyd and Eley Kishimoto, alongside sessions on ‘Inclusivity in Design’, ‘The Commercial Viability of Responsible Design’ and ‘Colour in a post Covid world’ amongst others.

Discussions at Design London, supported by Schneider Electric, will feature four days of compelling headline talks, trend forecasts and panel discussions with both leading designers and rising stars of the design world. Curated by Katie Richardson and running from 11am each day, the dynamic and diverse programme aims to give an insight into future trends and current movements within design, architecture and the wider creative industries, and as always, underpinned by the issues of the day.

‘Transparency in shades of colour’ talks auditorium by Yinka Ilori

‘Transparency in shades of colour’ talks auditorium by Yinka Ilori


The exciting live programme will feature British-Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori as its headline speaker and chief collaborator. Ilori will open the talks programme on Wednesday 22nd September in a Q&A with Rosa Bertoli, Design Editor of Wallpaper*, welcoming guests through a kaleidoscopic tunnel of colour and inviting them to take a seat in his joyfully designed auditorium, ‘Transparency in Shades of Colour’.

The Wednesday programme will also feature Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director of Dulux, presenting ‘Colour in a post Covid world’ – a panel discussion with artist Robi Walters, designer Adam Nathaniel Furman and fashion designer Kitty Joseph. The session will explore how we will be using and creating colour in the near and far future and what its role in design will be beyond its aesthetic qualities, as well as whether colour can make life better, safe and more sustainable in a post pandemic world.

Helen Parton is confirmed to host a talk on workspace interiors, focusing on the future of work and how a return to work differs from a generational context. Joining Parton will be BDG’s Colin Macgadie, Yaara Gooner – Head of Architecture and Design for LABS and STAY, skilled at transforming properties to create hubs of enterprise, designed for wellbeing, productivity and growth. Also joining the panel is Emma Morley, Founder of Trifle* – a human centric, and intrinsically creative design consultancy with an overriding passion for bringing heart and soul into the workplace design industry.

Wednesday also sees a panel discussion dedicated to the role of a lighting designer, hosted by lighting magazine, [d]arc. The panel will feature leading lighting professionals Paul Nulty, founder of Nulty lighting, Charlotte Svensson, of Lighting Design International and Iain Carlile of dpa Lighting Consultants.  Moderated by [d]arc magazine’s Managing Editor, Helen Ankers, the discussion will explore importance of ‘good’ lighting design when working on hospitality or commercial projects and why it is essential lighting is a consideration in the early stages. The talk will also feature tips and tricks for ‘getting it right’ with lighting and the impact on an environment when things go wrong.

Wednesday’s talks will present a Q&A between Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson, Founders of East-London based design studio, Pearson Lloyd and Francesca Perry, Editor-in-Chief of ICON magazine, discussing their recent works, including projects for Lufthansa, Joseph Joseph and the City of Bath among others.

Wednesday will also feature Cameron Design House, an award-winning British bespoke sculptural lighting company that has become synonymous with unique, contemporary design and refined craftsmanship.

Kuulas chandelier by sculptural lighting studio Cameron Design House

Kuulas chandelier by sculptural lighting studio Cameron Design House


Thursday will feature a session with hospitality magazine, Sleeper, presenting a discussion chaired by Ben Thomas, Deputy Editor at the title along with Eric Jafari, Chief Development Officer/Creative Director at pan-European real estate development platform, edyn, Charu Ghandi, Founder of Elicyon, Charlie North, Design Director at Ennismore and Matthew Bell, Citizen M. The session will explore how hotels are being used more than ever, as workspaces.

The Danish Embassy will also be hosting a talk on Thursday with exhibiting designers who feature as part of the Danish Pavilion at Design London 2021. ‘Danish Design and Circularity’ curated by Betina Simonsen sees three leading Danish companies present how their circular business models work in practice and what it takes both internally and externally, to have both supplier, employees and customers on board in this transition. Participants include Maria Fryd, Wehlers Solveig Kolstad, Sheworks and Lone Ditmer, Dansk Wilton.

Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director of Dulux will also return for an additional solo trends session entitled Colour Futures 2022. In this presentation Shillingford will discuss how the way we use and respond to colour is changing, the ways we will be using colour on our walls in 2022 and how we can create spaces that are more in tune with the way we want to work, relax and play.

Writer and curator, Riya Patel will also be chairing a discussion titled ‘Redefining our Domestic Spaces’. Remote working has become the new standard since the start of the pandemic and is set to continue for many of us as we move into a new era of hybrid working. Whilst many home workers claimed their productivity increased during lockdown, others reported a decline as for many households in the UK, adding more space for a home office was simply not an option. The talk, which features James Bidwell, co-founder of Re_Set, a leading next generation strategy consultancy, Renee Searle from Threefold Architects, and David Schill, Marketing Director for Aritco Lift, will question how design can offer innovative long-term solutions to this prescient contemporary conundrum, and how can we design and build homes that can adapt to whatever is coming next.


Global fashion and design company, Eley Kishimoto will headline and open the talks on Friday 24th September, with the rare appearance of both Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto in conversation with design journalist, Elspeth Pridham discussing their work to date. Founded in 1992, the London-based company is primarily known for its print design, womenswear fashion and accessories. Living by the maxim “Print The World”, Eley Kishimoto have always strived to create work that is executed simply, clear in intention exhibiting a unique creative flair, that rejects passing trends and fads.

From a partnership forged in the early 90’s, Eley Kishimoto quickly gained a reputation for incisive and intelligent print design with their work being displayed on the catwalks of the world through work with Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Alber Elbaz and Jil Sander, to name but a few. In the mid 90’s the partnership moved into the fashion world with the launch of their first womenswear collection; this proved to be such a success that the company has produced collections ever since.

Another highlight of the Friday talks series will be acclaimed British designer Henry Holland in conversation with WGSN’s Bethan Ryder. The well-loved designer, who has been designing products for fashion and interiors for the last 15 years, notably with his label House of Holland, and has recently launched Henry Holland Studio. The designer has released two new collections since launching the new studio and his 80’s and 90’s inspired rugs for FLOOR_STORYwill be shown at Design London. Bethan talks to Henry about his work to date and direction for the future.

While the topic of sustainability has been on the lips of the design world for a number of years, the challenge of striking its balance with affordability is still just as prevalent. Doing the right thing, from a business and design perspective, is key as we battle to meet the SDG’s laid out in 2015. With this in mind, design journalist Roddy Clark will chair The Commercial Viability of Responsible Design. This conversation will look at the advice of business owners and leaders actively working hard to lessen their impact while striving for commercial success. Panellists for the session will include Elinor Pitt from Stitched – a start-up transforming the way people buy curtains and blinds.

There will also be a series by bathroom solutions company Ideal Standard focusing on the creativity and energy of the city of London. Ideal Standard will be hosting a screening of a unique film exploring London’s rich culture and electric attitude that makes it so iconic. The film screening will be followed by an exclusive session with film contributor Darren Cross, Fashion Designer, Textile Designer and Fashion Illustrator, talking of his experiences creating iconic patterns through his work with Orla Kiely, Eley Kishimoto, Vilshenko, Solace and Mother of Pearl. They will also be hosting a talk with Sohelia Sokhanvari, a British-Iranian artist, whose multimedia work cultivates a non-uniform practice and deals with contemporary and historical political landscapes. Sohelia will share how she achieves extraordinary colour in her work through the traditional egg tempera technique.


Saturday’s programme for Discussions at Design London will include BIID Presents ‘How to get the most out of the client / designer relationship’ – an interactive session from BIID that aims to inform and educate interior designers and will be hosted by BIID members Simone Suss of Studio Suss and Henry Prideaux.

The Saturday line-up will also include a session dedicated to Inclusivity in Design Chaired by Simon Hamilton, Interior Designer, Career Mentor, Collaborator and Founder of Design Career Consulting. “What next for designers in the 21st century’ will see Simon Hamilton asking a panel of interior designers to reflect on their responses to issues raised in the last 18 months and what the industry could look like in the future. Panellists will include Tash South from Southplace Studio.

A talk on Virtual Reality and Design, will include Oliver Salway from architecture and design studio, Softroom. Softroom is known for their future-focused projects, recently designing a VR newsroom called ‘The News Pavilion’ which leveraged virtual production techniques.

An essential platform for those looking to network and source the latest and most innovative furniture, lighting and design pieces during the annual festival, Design London boasts a jam-packed programme of engaging content and a highly curated selection of sought-after design brands from around the globe.

The full Design London programme and list of brands will be announced in due course. For more information visit

COVID-19: The health and safety of Design London visitors is paramount to the show’s operation. The team continues to monitor Government guidance and follow guidelines set out by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) in order to take a proactive approach working with exhibitors and suppliers to deliver a safe and well managed event for all guests.

November 2023 issue

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