A festival and a fair

We are spoilt for choice this coming weekend, with two enticing events on offer: the inaugural Cheltenham Design Festival – in the elegant spa town best known, until now, for thoroughbreds, blue stockings and fine Regency buildings – and the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy; the latter starts a day earlier, so both are possible:

Hosted by Sir John Hegarty, a founding partner of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (and President of the Cheltenham Design Foundation), the festival comprises a series of talks by, discussions between and interviews with leading figures from the world of design.

There are 18 events (spread over three days) and speakers include Hegarty himself – who, with legendary designer Kenneth Grange, explores ways in which design can help the UK emerge from recession; our own Roger Mavity (CEO of Conran) and Stephen Bayley, co-authors of Life’s A Pitch,
on the value of ideas when times are tough; a talk from and audience with NY graphic designer
and typographer Stefan Sagmeister; and gardener Dan Pearson on how open spaces affect our wellbeing. (Tickets per event or per day).

We’ve a passion for prints, partly derived from a fascination for the many ways of creating them, but also for their accessibility, price-wise, in comparison with paintings by the great names.

The 27th London Original Print Fair includes examples from modern artists, such as Picasso, Warhol, Freud, Hockney and Hirst – and 1930s artist Cyril Powers, whose fantastic The Rowers is shown above
– and classical prints from the 18th and 19th century. It also features the work of Sir Peter Blake, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year and who will be ‘in conversation’ at the venue on the fair’s first evening. There’s an entrance fee for the fair, but we like to think of it as an exhibition that offers the possibility of taking the exhibits home with us! (19-22 April: exhibition, plus catalogue, £12; Thursday evening admission, plus ‘in conversation’ and drink, £16). 

Before we go, a quick reminder that RIBA’s A Place to Call Home is now in its final two weeks: curated by
Sarah Beeny, this compact (and free) exhibition is fascinating for anyone interested in the advent of mass house building in the 18th century – when a man’s position in life could be immediately deduced from the stucco (or lack of it) on his house. Plus ça change?

A trip to the exhibition is also a wonderful excuse to discover afresh the beauty of RIBA’s Art Deco HQ at 66 Portland Place, below, designed by Grey Wornum and completed in 1934. (Amid the bronze, marble and etched glass of the entrance hall, note the sleek stainless steel desk by BarberOsgerby, which divided opinions when it was unveiled in 2008).

ps The Terence Conran retrospective might have ended at the Design Museum, but there’s still time to enter TimeOut’s competition to win the Conran Shop furniture featured in the exhibition, worth £4,000.
The winners of the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2012 awards will be announced on 24 April.

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