London Design Festival,

‘Celebrates and promotes London as the design capital of the world’ and we’ve got a round up of some of the standout design events and their accessibility for all.  We look at exhibits that are focussed on disability as well as some that are just plain interesting. They are:

1. Please Feed The Lions,

Probably the most dramatic and visually stunning, Please Feed The Lions is ‘an interactive installation in Trafalgar Square by Es Devlin, known for her ‘innovative projection-mapped sculptures that fuse light, music & tech.’. Placed in Trafalgar Square the area is flat and accessible and now with a fifth lion in red. The Festival asks the question

“The four lions have been sitting as silent icons for 150 years. If they could open their mouths & speak what would they say?” Send your replies here!!

You can also visit the National Portrait Gallery afterwards, at the north end of the fully pedestrianised Trafalgar Square, for a more quiet and soothing experience (i.e. a bite to eat in their restaurant or cafe and a visit to their disabled loos, on the ground, 2nd & 3rd floors). There you can find their featured exhibition about the influence of,

Michael Jackson in contemporary art.

Both places are free to enjoy and there is full access information for the National Gallery here.


2. Belonging – The Design Museum

The theme of Belonging at the museum, will feature exhibitions and talks based on designing for inclusivity. For the festival this week (Sep. 15-23) the fully accessible Design Museum (see our access review) has installed a Thought Balloon or Mind Pilot. Apparently your brainwaves are picked up by a virtual reality (VR) headset that the ‘pilot’ wears, and are sent as signals to move the ship in multiple directions. ‘It aims to offer a glimpse of the future, when people of all physical abilities could be able to operate flight through technology’, a welcome innovation! The installation is by Loop.pH studio.

A Giant balloon fills the central space of the parabola ceiling at The Design Museum & Moves Using Brainwaves From a VR Headset??
A Giant balloon fills the central space of the parabola ceiling at The Design Museum & Moves Using Brainwaves From a VR Headset??


The Beazley Designs of the Year 2018,

Is another notable exhibition at The Design Museum, where ‘design experts from around the world nominate the most innovative and thought-provoking designs from the past 12 months.’ It’s on the lower ground floor and encased by black walls which meant the exhibits stood out but the explanations were hard to read. However, there were headsets for audio descriptions – too fiddly for me to handle at wheelchair height!

Our favourites were: the actual Drones from the Franchise Freedom drone installation, a new e-skin for a prosthetic arm that allows amputees to sense pressure, temperature, humidity and airflow enabling prosthetic limbs to experience touch; the Nigerian world cup 2018 football kit by Nike, which was even more dazzling and desirable in real life; the ENEA walking stick from Shiro studio and the latest version of Aibo the AI puppy companion from Sony which learns and gathers intelligence from its owner, including facial recognition – are these the carers of tomorrow? Quite unnerving!

3. The V&A

The V&A is hosting an exhibit called Mutiply………….It’s debatable if this is accessible as it consists of re-useable wood and is designed around stairs and bridges. You can see it but not experience it – we think??

However, the V&A also has a lecture on 28 Sept – Disruptive Design: Disability Driving Architectural Innovation. It will

‘explore how the experience and expertise of disabled people can be a force for innovation within the architectural design process’.

A worthy theme and we’ll try to get there to report back. Of immediate interest at The V&A is,

Without Walls: Disability and Innovation in Building Design

It’s on until 21st Oct and ‘charts the shift in design practice from designing for, to designing with, disabled people ‘. Here are some of the exhibits and we particularly like the Spastic Society Poster as it shows how little has changed re accessible toilets??

There is also the vibrant Frida Kahlo exhibition ,

The colourful Mexican artist who made her prosthetic leg a thing of beauty back in the ’50’s

The V&A boast good disabled facilities with 13 disabled toilets but when they refer you to the interactive map we’re not sure where they are? We could only find 6.

4. Kellenberger-White: Alphabet

Is an exhibition in Finsbury Avenue Square in the City by Kellenberger- White known for their playful approach to typefaces. They’ve designed a new series of alphabet chairs as a Landmark Project. It’s accessible but not sure the alphabet chairs are useable if you have a mobility issue. Visitors are encouraged to play, interact and make words with the 26 colourful alphabet chairs – an urban playground!!


Looks good and there are plenty of bars nearby to visit such as Jose Pizzarro, in Broadgate Centre with flat access with a disabled toilet and serving great tapas. Or nearby South Place Hotel (fully accessible see our review) where there’s always something cool happening!

And Finally,

We wouldn’t be doing our duty if we didn’t include a bar or restaurant and Darcie and May Green fits the bill. On the Grand union canal near Paddington these are barges that are floating works of art decorated by Sir Peter Blake, the legendary British Pop Artist. The design is as ‘fresh and bold as the Antipodean-inspired menu’. Definitely stylish but only accessible for the ambulant disabled. We in wheelchairs can go and look at the art instead!!! There is a sister restaurant nearby that is accessible, located in Sheldon Square Paddington,,,,,,,,,,,

Beany Green Little Venice, a 3 minute walk from Darcie & May is accessible for wheelchairs and operates a very similar brunch menu’.

Darcie and May Green, Restaurant and Bar on Barges Designed by Sir Peter Blake
Darcie and May Green, Restaurant and Bar on Barges Designed by Sir Peter Blake

In celebration the London Design Festival we will be selling DRINK  our own design for a stylish universal glass holder (for wheelchairs, scooters, buggies sticks etc.), at 15% off as featured by Disability Horizons just enter the code DHORIZONS at the shop checkout (valid until Oct 2018).

DRINK Glass Holder Attaches To anything Fits Glasses, Bottles, Cups
DRINK Glass Holder Attaches To anything Fits Glasses, Bottles, Cups


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