A conversation with Annie Lindsell: Event director of London Design Fair

The fair gallery © London Design Fair

We are delighted to chat with Annie Lindsell, the event director for the London Design Fair. In this interview we discussed her career, insights into the fair such as Thrive; the theme of the 2023 fair edition, upcoming design trends, and much more!

1. Hi Annie! Thanks for chatting with us today. To begin, can you provide an overview of your background leading up to the London Design Fair? What is its mission and core purpose in the design industry?

Since studying fine art, my background has always been in events from helping to run various craft and design fairs during my time with Hearst Media with Country Living and House Beautiful magazine to trade focused shows when I moved over to Diversified Communications, where I have now been for almost 8 years! I was delighted when Diversified acquired London Design Fair as I had been visiting the Fair for the love of it since it's early days and it had always been a dream to be involved in working on it.  

London Design Fair's mission and purpose is to be the capital's source of cutting-edge design, next trends and a place to utilise design towards a progressive and exciting future.

Left: The Scandinavia Form © London Design Fair / Right: An exposition at LDF © London Design Fair 

2. What are the key highlights and themes of this year's London Design Fair? Are there any significant changes or innovations compared to previous editions?

The theme this year is 'Thrive', which has been translated through the various installations, collaborations and speaker programme this year. We haven't historically worked with a theme before but as this is our comeback year we wanted to decide on a single word that would set the tone of what the Fair is set to aid; 'a future in which to thrive'.

In response to the theme of course a big topic that we need to address is around sustainability. This year we have launched our new 'Sustainable Materials Showcase' which is a collection of raw materials, submitted by our exhibitors which are being re-used or repurposed to create the materials for their product's final design. We are working with sustainable design studio Tomas & Jani for the production of this showcase. Tomas & Jani are making each plinth from their KAVA surface which is made from coffee waste and organic fibers like ground fruit stones.

Also new this year is our 'Design Alumni Pavilion'; a curated selection of emerging talent. The criteria to exhibit in this pavilion is to have left your design-led course within the last two years or less. We are super excited to see the work by these designers including some wonderful furniture by the likes of Sofia Matheou, Jenna Gillinger and Mathilde Wittock.  

We will also be running our first edition of the LDNdesign Talks programme which consists of back-to-back talks and workshops across all 4 days. These sessions include some leading industry names and studios including 2LG Studio, Pearson Lloyd, Universal Design Studio, Cameron Design House, Roddy Clarke, Simone Brewster, Adam Nathaniel Furman, amongst many others!

3. As the director, what aspects of the London Design Fair are you most proud of, and what do you personally find most exciting about the event each year?

That is a really hard question! I feel really proud of everything this year. I find it most exciting that each year is completely different and nothing is regurgitated. Trends and topics are always evolving and it is really exhilarating to be at the forefront of seeing what is about to be the next big, influential concept.

This year particularly, I'm really excited about working with 2LG Studio who are partnering with Lick for the Fair entrance. The brief was to create a welcoming and inclusive space for the arrival moment for our visitors. I can't wait for the unveiling of the entrance on Thursday 21st September when we open!  

Left: Day one view © London Design Fair / Right: Lighting exposition © London Design Fair 

4. The fair often showcases design trends and innovations. Can you highlight some of the most noteworthy design trends or themes that visitors can expect to see at the event this year?

This year we are seeing a lot of pieces and concepts that I would describe as 'optimistic, vibrant and playful''. Moving forward from the last 3 years where everyone spent a lot of time at home and apart, there has been a real shift in shapes and surfaces. People want to feel safe and comforted by soft edges and textures. I think there is also a real 'celebration' element to design right now where people are back, connecting physically and in person again and they want to have the opportunity to play and have fun again.

5. How does the London Design Fair foster collaboration and networking within the creative industry? Are there opportunities for attendees to connect with artists, designers, and other professionals?

Absolutely! That is a huge part of the Fair. There will be 200 exhibiting designers showcasing their work for the visitors to meet with. The Fair has always been a resource for collaboration and that is also reflected in the installations that we host, such as the ambitious concept space titled 'You CAN Sit With Us' by 2LG studio this year. 2LG Studio have collaborated with brands such as Ercol, Sheyn, Custhom and Granite and Smoke for this space as well as invited a group of 13 designers to create a bespoke chair for a table setting. The message behind this is to deliver a safe space that showcases a range of design identities, interacting together. Each with an equal 'seat at the table'.

6. Sustainability and eco-friendly design are increasingly important in the design world. How does the London Design Fair address these topics and promote sustainable practices?

We are of course launching our new Sustainable Materials Showcase this year which I already mentioned. We are also working with Chris Lefteri Studio to create a new Fair feature titled 'Materials: Ingredients for Sustainability' which will showcase over 100 materials applicable to all areas of design. This feature will act as a learning library for trade visitors to draw from and utilise in their own design practice.

We are also working this year with stylist, writer and consultant Roddy Clarke who will be curating our new sustainable home showcase with Blue Patch, titled 'Homes With a Heart'. This beautifully styled home set will feature Blue Patch members and sustainable businesses including Soho Lighting Company, Angus Ross and Gomi, to show that there is no compromise in sustainable design.

Roddy Clarke will also be doubling up at the Fair in the LDNdesign Talks stage, for a session on 'Growing a Business Sustainability' with Sophie Sellu, Julius Quinn and Darren Appiagyei. In this session, Roddy explores the art of balancing commercial growth while maintaining a sustainable ethos.

Left: The director of LDF, Annie Lindsell © London Design Fair / Right: The fair gallery © London Design Fair 

7. Could you share some success stories or notable achievements associated with the London Design Fair? Are there any past exhibitors or designers who have gained significant recognition as a result of their participation?   

Well this year in particular, we look forward to welcoming back Filipe Ramos who exhibited in 2019 and met with the buyers from Le Bon Marche Paris. These buyers ended up adding his Elo chair and footstool to their collection and posting a full page on their Spring-Summer 2020 catalogue. The chair that Filipe launched at the Fair in 2019 is now part of the new interiors of the iconic 60s "Wolff House" by architect John Lautner in West Hollywood LA.

Julius Quinn who is the founder of House of Quinn also returns this year. Julius last exhibited as part of a collective in 2019 and was picked up at the Fair then by TOAST who went on to stock his pieces.

This year we are really focused on supporting emerging talent, so we have partnered with OYOY Living to launch the new, 'Togetherness Design Award'. We have narrowed down three finalists from either our British Craft or Design Alumni Pavilion who will all live-pitch a prototype at the Fair on Friday 22nd September to a panel of judges, including the OYOY Living team. The judges will then announce the winner later that day and the prize includes a working trip to Denmark to work directly with the OYOY design team to turn their prototype into production. This piece will then be stocked as part of the OYOY Living range, initially exclusively with Glassette. This award is set out to really springboard the career of an emerging designer and we can't wait to see the results!

8. Many international visitors attend the fair. Can you provide information about the global reach and impact of the London Design Fair, as well as any plans for further international expansion or collaboration?  

Yes, the London Design Fair is a truly global affair! The last edition welcomed 47 exhibiting countries and 77 visiting countries. We work with a number of embassies and international trade organizations to host several international pavilions. This year we have 7 international pavilions joining us, including the Furniture of Ukraine Pavilion, 'Made in Sweden' and Romania. We are already in discussion with several new countries and regions for 2024 so watch this space! London continues to be a global design capital of the world and it is really important that we offer the platform for countries from all around the world to showcase and do business.  

9. Are there any special events, talks, or workshops scheduled alongside the fair that attendees should look out for?

Yes! So many fantastic sessions! I am really excited to drop in on the theater sessions this year. I have mentioned a few of the sessions already, but other ones to note include a session with Trend Forecasting agency Trend Bible on Thursday 21st September which explores indoor/outdoor living and the evolution of the hybridized home.


Their favorite artworks

Painting, DB 30, Joanne Freeman

DB 30

Joanne Freeman

Painting - 76.2 x 61 cm Painting - 30 x 24 inch

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Painting, Cream Puff, Anya Spielman

Cream Puff

Anya Spielman

Painting - 22.9 x 17.8 cm Painting - 9 x 7 inch

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Sculpture, La mère & l'enfant, Liselotte Andersen

La mère & l'enfant

Liselotte Andersen

Sculpture - 31 x 19 x 13 cm Sculpture - 12.2 x 7.5 x 5.1 inch

$3,630

Painting, Bush, Anya Spielman

Bush

Anya Spielman

Painting - 15.2 x 17.8 cm Painting - 6 x 7 inch

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Design, Pink & Wood Chair, Anacleto Spazzapan

Pink & Wood Chair

Anacleto Spazzapan

Design - 95 x 56 x 39 cm Design - 37.4 x 22 x 15.4 inch

$1,021

Painting, Prussian Blue-stained Vista (Raw), Natalie Lavelle

Prussian Blue-stained Vista (Raw)

Natalie Lavelle

Painting - 45 x 35 x 3 cm Painting - 17.7 x 13.8 x 1.2 inch

$1,702

Design, Folkifunki - Candleholder With 3 Arms, Jaime Hayón

Folkifunki - Candleholder With 3 Arms

Jaime Hayón

Design - 30 x 17 x 20 cm Design - 11.8 x 6.7 x 7.9 inch

$561

Design, Sculpture lumineuse A104, Maryam Hatami

Sculpture lumineuse A104

Maryam Hatami

Design - 40 x 36 x 15 cm Design - 15.7 x 14.2 x 5.9 inch

$1,702

Painting, Sans titre, Pierre Célice

Sans titre

Pierre Célice

Painting - 46 x 64 x 1 cm Painting - 18.1 x 25.2 x 0.4 inch

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Sculpture, Blue sky, Greet Weitenberg

Blue sky

Greet Weitenberg

Sculpture - 35 x 17 x 14 cm Sculpture - 13.8 x 6.7 x 5.5 inch

$851

Sculpture, Let it hang out, Greet Weitenberg

Let it hang out

Greet Weitenberg

Sculpture - 72 x 28 x 27 cm Sculpture - 28.3 x 11 x 10.6 inch

$1,418

Sculpture, Golden Ghost (small), Brandon Vickerd

Golden Ghost (small)

Brandon Vickerd

Sculpture - 152.4 x 43.2 x 40.6 cm Sculpture - 60 x 17 x 16 inch

$24,955

Design, MrD, Clémentine Chambon

MrD

Clémentine Chambon

Design - 114 x 37.5 x 38.5 cm Design - 44.9 x 14.8 x 15.2 inch

$2,042

Painting, Resonance, Eric Pasture

Resonance

Eric Pasture

Painting - 120 x 100 x 4 cm Painting - 47.2 x 39.4 x 1.6 inch

$3,630

Painting, Sans titre, Jean Miotte

Sans titre

Jean Miotte

Painting - 56 x 78 cm Painting - 22 x 30.7 inch

$8,508