Standing majestically on the banks of The Thames, Somerset House plays a central role in this year's London Design Festival. Its elegant River Terrace will host a new installation, Portrait, commissioned by Veuve Clicquot and created by renowned design duo, Fredrikson Stallard. Inside the grand Terrace Rooms press and VIP's will have exclusive access to the distinguished London Design Embassy; and a new exhibition, Wouldn't it be nice... Wishful thinking in art and design, will open in Somerset House's Embankment Galleries.
London Design Festival was asked to deliver the first Veuve Clicquot Design Commission for London. Inspired by Veuve Clicquot, one of the most prestigious and innovative champagnes in the world, Fredrikson Stallard's Portrait is a single piece of wood that has been magnified and transformed using a combination of steel and light to recreate the familiar grain structure of wood.
Portrait will be positioned next to Waterloo Bridge and is designed to create a beacon to celebrate the London Design Festival. In daylight the steel sections, representing the light wood grain laid down by the tree in summer, are the dominant feature. At nightfall the spaces in between, representing the dark wood grain laid down in winter, will be illuminated in Veuve Clicquot's signature yellow, as the steel becomes the negative space.
Fredrikson Stallard is renowned for using experimental materials, but on this occasion they wanted to celebrate the more traditional building substances of wood and steel. Typical of much of Fredrikson Stallard's work, the piece has a broad contextual foundation and is hard to classify. It could be considered as a fine art sculpture, but also in design terms as a lighting piece or screen and architecturally as a wall. This tactile installation will be Fredrikson Stallard's largest work to date.
Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard explain, "Being furniture designers, wood is something so obvious as a material one might tend to neglect it in a quest for new materials and related processes. It felt correct to translate this by celebrating a material but without using it. In a sense the piece becomes an altar for the very fabric of design which we felt appropriate for the London Design Festival."
Sally Warmington, Brand Director of Veuve Clicquot, comments, "In keeping with the creative and forward looking spirit of Madame Clicquot, Veuve Clicquot is delighted to support the work of the London Design Festival and, specifically, this commission at Somerset House, as part of our desire to to champion contemporary design and culture. Fredrikson Stallard are highly talented and internationally renowned designers and we hope that this commission will bring their work to an even wider audience who can admire it as they cross Waterloo Bridge."
London Design Embassy
Situated in the Terrace Rooms of Somerset House, the London Design Embassy will be a haven for press and VIPs who want to unwind, plan their next visit, and catch up on emails. Spread over a series of river-fronted linking rooms and curated by BarberOsgerby, this calm oasis will have a Press Office with key partner press packs, people on hand to offer advice on itineraries and essential places to visit, and a lounge area with internet access, complimentary hot and cold drinks and snacks.
Wouldn't it be nice... Wishful thinking in art and design
Somerset House will be showing Wouldn't it be nice..., a major exhibition of contemporary art and design, full of wit and subversion. Featuring new and recent work from ten leading practitioners from the world of art and design, the exhibition explores the common ground between the two fields. Its content will constantly change and develop with a programme of performance-based installations during its run. Wouldn't it be nice.. will also include new commissions from Martino Gamper, Bless, and Graphic Thought Facility. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks given by artists, designers and academics.
Established in 2003 to celebrate and promote London as the creative capital of the world, The London Design Festival has grown rapidly to become one of the key constituents of the UK's burgeoning creative festival season alongside London Fashion Week, Frieze Art Fair and the London Film Festival. The major installation of Portrait will be open to the public and will be a striking addition to the London riverside architecture.