LA Design Fest is On

With a milestone anniversary to mark, the festival spotlighting Los Angeles design in all its creative and innovative manifestations was delayed due to the pandemic shutdown, but fiercely determined to press on with a reimagined forum September 24-27 that will deliver to the people here–and worldwide—like never before. 

LADF turns 10 this year, or so it did, officially, in June. With precariously high Covid-19 rates and the city-wide mandated shutdown in effect, however, the 4-day annual event was put on ice until organizers could determine whether staging it at all could happen. Design festivals everywhere met similar fates. That is, until the design communities began transforming a challenge into an opportunity and found safe, new ways to forge on. Copenhagen held its 3 Days of Design the first week of this month; London took the baton from the 12-20; and other design weeks worldwide are slowly returning, albeit in a revamped format.

"Sky Gazing Tower," a low-cost, lightweight personal space with virtual reality component, onsite at ROW during last year’s LADF and created by SomePeople Studio with Fathom and Form and Christopher Morse.

“We believe that design is intrinsically optimistic and open-ended and that designers see a multiplicity of futures,” reads this year’s festival statement, its theme this go-round, “Design for the Future.” “For 2020, we’re looking at the future through a lens of optimism, curiosity, and purpose.”

LADF returns to the 30-acre downtown campus of ROW (home to A+R), albeit with a tweak. Instead of the events that would attract thousands, virtual experiences are defining the programming. Sure, many of these are still designed for an in-person, safe experience, including visiting window displays intentionally realized for the festival. Notably, these “vitrines,” as organizers are branding them, as well as studio tours, workshops, interviews and other experiences will all take place virtually, enabling anyone—not just Angelenos—to see, listen and do.

Plenty of space to enjoy design under blue skies at ROW, as evidenced with these installations at the 2019 4-day event.

We at A+R will be unveiling in our 2 designated vitrines one of our newest brands, designed and crafted in LA; as well as one of our longstanding favorites, based in San Francisco. While we will be missing our annual opening-night party, an LADF anchor for the last decade, as well as the in-house speaker series with our international designers, we are not without design news. Stay tuned for more A+R programming tied to LADF.

Spillover from last year's opening night LADF bash. For 10 years, we've packed them in. This year, it will be a different affair.

Among the most experiential of virtual events is the Thursday eve kick off. Formerly, a cocktail-fueled affair for the annual award honorees, this time it’s an interactive production by the boundary-pushing We Must Be Bold. Revelers at home must keep their cameras and mic on, and will be encouraged to “eavesdrop, imbibe, and dance.” Unlike prior years, too, it’s free—although an RSVP is required.

A 10-year anniversary is occasion for aluminum or tin, materials that represent the durability and flexibility needed to sustain a relationship. No doubt, the organizers and everyone in the LA design community are nimbly forging forward with mettle and heart.