London Design Festival provides comms inspiration through colour

This year’s London Design Festival kicked off last week and I took some time out to have a wander and see what the festival had to offer.

The idea of ‘adult play’ has been around for a while. We’ve had giant slides down streets, grown-up ball pits, and in 2015 at Brands2Life we created an adults only bouncy castle for the launch of mobile game Candy Crush Jelly Saga. And with this year’s Landmark Project given to Camila Walala, the theme is firmly back in the public eye. Villa Walala, a large pink and brightly coloured bouncy structure, complete with deckchairs, places to relax and surrounded by zigzagging painted stripes, it literally fills Exchange Square and brings with it a sense of buoyancy, fun and energy.


These ‘adult play’ events or installations could easily (and indeed have been) dismissed as frivolous, or indulgent, but they shouldn’t be. Yes, the installation is fun and a joy to look at, but it also has a cathartic effect. Textile designer Camila Walala explained, “I wanted to create something that played to this idea of escaping the office and winding down”. In an increasingly connected age the importance of switching off and taking a breather is well documented. The installation plays perfectly with this line of work and play, situated in an area associated with City workers and an ‘always on’ culture, encouraging us to rethink this balance.


The pop of colour at Villa Walala certainly made me wake up on a grey London day, and showed just how big an impact a bright colour can have on your mood. This was also on show at London based designer Yinka Ilori’s installation at citizenM hotel in Shoreditch. His brief was to create an installation that celebrates the best in people and inspired by the “massive honey pot of culture” that was his childhood playground. This background led to the creation of the ‘Estate Playground’ featuring a brightly coloured swing, slide and a seesaw. Known for drawing on the colours and patterns of his Nigerian roots, his exhibit which contrasted against the darkness of the hotel, couldn’t help but put a smile on your face. As I walked past there were others admiring, taking pictures (it’s Instagram heaven) and simply hanging around – something that Ilori had in fact intended in an attempt to recreate the way children act with each other in a playground. He purposely wanted to create an inclusivity and sense of welcome, made possible by putting us in the joyful mindset of a child.


Hopping across London, next up was a visit to the V&A, the hub of the London Design Festival, the power of colour and its ability to transform your mood came in the form of Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room.  This immersive coloured light experience draws on Talbot’s previous work and experimentation with the shades of orange and blue, inspired by his native Australian sunsets. The installation also includes a series of Barrisol reflective panels giving reflections of light and movement. As the name would suggest, the room does become a place for reflection, a place of quiet and peace. But at the same time the warmth of the orange brings with it an energising experience. It gave me the feeling that I was watching a magical sunset.

In summary, if I could take four things from my day it would be:

  • Don’t be afraid of colour, nor underestimate its transformative power
  • Adult play is a trend that’s here to stay – put yourself in the mindset of a child, and don’t be afraid to occasionally act like one!
  • Mindfulness is becoming more important than ever – take some time to reflect
  • Draw and take inspiration from the natural world (and ways we can bring its natural beauty to life through humans and technology)

Written by Hannah Milne, Associate Director, Consumer.

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