In Review

LDF at the V&A: from fluttering insects to kebab shops and crystals

A 'treasure trail' of design comes to the Victoria and Albert Museum for London Design Festival

The London Design Festival has spawned hundreds of installations across the capital this year, with the main hub at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Several installations are dotted around the V&A in what is being hailed as a "treasure trail" of design.

At the Grand Entrance, visitors are greeted by an arresting 18m-high pillar embedded with more than 600 Swarovski crystals, designed by Norwegian designer Kim Thomé. Entitled Zotem (a mix of 'totem' and 'zoetrope'), the monolith rises up to one of the galleries on the sixth level, making it the most conspicuous of the new LDF installations.

Harder to find are the ten garments specially created by designer Faye Toogood to mimic some of the museum's long-term collections: a marble coat stands camouflaged on the marble staircase, while other "suits of armour" are created from materials such as bronze, wood and metal to reflect their surroundings. Visitors to The Cloakroom in the Clore Study Area are invited to wear one of Toogood's 150 foam-textile coats, complete with a large map in place of a label to help them discover all ten couture pieces.

Elsewhere in the museum is Curiosity Cloud, an unusual interactive installation residing in the darkened Norfolk House Music Room, which contains the ornate gold and cream panelling from the former St James's Square residence of the Dukes of Norfolk.

Designed by the Austrian duo mischer'traxler, in collaboration with champagne house Perrier-Jouët, Curiosity Cloud comprises 250 mouth-blown glass globes, each containing a single handmade insect attached to a wire.

As visitors approach the installation, the globes light up and the insects begin to flutter and collide with the glass. Designer Katharina Mischer describes it as a "playful experience" that points to "mankind's relationship to nature".

Downstairs, in amongst the large-scale Renaissance relics and marble statues of room 50a, is an imposing installation that tells the story of consumerism in 21st-century London.

The Tower of Babel, by artist Barnaby Barford, is a 6m-high tower of 3,000 bone china shops, each unique and representing a real building in the capital. Barford cycled more than 1,000 miles across every postcode in the city taking the photographs, with the biblical name alluding to people's efforts to find fulfilment through shopping.

Each miniature shop is for sale, with prices ranging from £95 for the derelict stores and kebab houses, positioned at the bottom of the tower, up to £6,000 for replicas of iconic buildings such as Christie's and Sotheby's, which sit so high up the Tower of Babel that visitors need binoculars to inspect them.

London Design Festival 2015 runs until 27 September.

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