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This year I used my Cultural Expansion Grant to explore some of the best in design and art around London.

ldf2015 and bernhardt design

My route through London Design Festival began by stumbling across one of the guides sitting outside Brands Limited in Clerkenwell. They were displaying a range by Bernhardt Designs, called Colours. The furniture was striking and I had a great chat with the experts in the shop. I’d headed to London specifically to visit LDF but I’m a big fan of those serendipitous moments that let you discover something you weren’t expecting.

ldf at somerset house

It was difficult to cover everything we wanted to at LDF so my friends and I stuck mainly to the exhibits in Somerset House. The highlight for me was #PoweredByTweets which featured winning entries by designers who were asked to use Twitter to ‘Solve a problem’ or ‘Create something beautiful’. My favourites were a typewriter powered by Twitter that was typing out the entirety of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland based on people’s tweets,

#putredback with #poweredbytweets

and #PutRedBack – a machine that added a drop of coloured water to a flag shaped installation to raise awareness of the fact that by law, gay men still can’t donate blood.

ai weiwei at royal academy of arts

Along with LDF we took the opportunity to see the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Words can’t describe how much impact it had. His art has such a powerful political message and really left us with a lot to think about. His S.A.C.R.E.D diorama featuring six scenes from his daily life while he was illegally detained for 81 days in a secret prison made the experience so real for visitors to the exhibition. Each diorama is enclosed in a 2 ½-ton iron box and shows Ai Weiwei under constant surveillance by two prison guards who were never more than 3 feet away.

ai weiwei diorama

I’m glad I was able to use my Cultural Expansion Grant to visit these two events. The Ai Weiwei exhibition runs until mid-December and I’d really recommend it. LDF2016 is definitely going on my calendar for next year and you should consider going too.

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