Ben Evans CBE founded London Design Festival with Sir John Sorrell CBE back in 2003, following a career working on policy development and campaigns for the Labour Party, including its successful 1997 general election. Building on their work helping to write the UK’s first design policy and the success of the burgeoning design sector in London, their concept was to create an annual event that would promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators. Last year, the festival welcomed a record-breaking 600,000 visitors from over 75 countries.
As well as managing LDF, Evans regularly commissions and curates a range of projects for the event, including an annual residency at the festival’s main hub, the V&A. In 2016 he added an ambitious new feature, the London Design Biennale, where countries, cities and territories present design installations based on a theme and take over the entirety of Somerset House for three weeks.
This year, however, is unlike any other in the festival’s history. While London Design Biennale has been postponed until 2021, Evans and the rest of the LDF team made the decision mid-lockdown to go ahead with this year’s festival. As they prepare for the reimagined event this September, Evans discusses creating a physical and virtual festival for Londoners, the camaraderie felt between all of the capital’s events, and why the creative industries will bounce back from this period of uncertainty.