The Designer's Guide to London

Design Landmarks

When it comes to points of interest, you really are spoilt for choice in London. The city's rich history and culture means there's something worth seeing at the turn of almost every corner. But with so many amazing design landmarks, it can be tough to know what to do first. So, from historic buildings to famous murals, there are suggestions here to suit everyone's interests...

The Barbican

  • Location: Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS (map)
  • URL: www.barbican.org.uk
  • Opening times: Mon-Sat: 09:00 - 23:00, Sun: 12:00 - 23:00
  • Entry: £10 (standard art gallery ticket)

The exhibitions hosted at London's Barbican Centre are not the only reason this venue is a must-visit for designers. A beautiful example of Brutalist architecture, the performing arts centre is one of the most divisive structures in the city. It's been referred to as 'architectural marmite' in the past - with people either loving or hating its design. Pay it a visit and let us know what you think!

Designer views

Tom Muller

"If Brutalism is your thing, you definitely need to check out both The Barbican and South Bank. Fantastic examples of this style of architecture, with the added bonus that both are cultural hotspots housing galleries and cinemas." - Tom Muller, freelance graphic designer and art director

May Foster

"The Barbican - for its radical design and materials. And the strange ability to be full of people while at the same time feeling quiet and secluded." - May Foster, graphic designer at Links of London

Battersea Power Station

  • Location: 188 Kirtling Street, London SW8 5BN (map)
  • URL: www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk
  • Opening times: Not open to the public, but public events and very occasional guided tours are held here. Check website for details.

For a hint of what London was like back in the '30s, check out Battersea Power Station. A listed building, the station became the largest brick building upon the completion of the third and fourth chimneys in 1955. A prime example of 1930s Art Deco architecture, this London jewel is defintely worth a visit.

Designer views

Matia Gobbo

"Battersea Power Station gives anybody the impression of what London used to look like in the old days, with two monster chimneys smoking in the centre of the town. It's a much underrated London icon." - Matia Gobbo, creative digital designer at Digital Annexe

Mike Lythgoe

"Be sure to take a trip down to the embankment to have a gander at Battersea power station, especially if you're a Pink Floyd fan." - Mike Lythgoe, designer at Studio Output

Jonathan Denby

"Battersea power station is just an amazing place to take in - an industrial feat of its time and an absolute icon of London." - Jonathan Denby, creative professional at Digital Annexe

Design Museum

  • Location: 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD (map)
  • URL: http://designmuseum.org/
  • Opening times: Mon-Sun: 10:00 - 17:45
  • Entry: Adult - £9.50/Concession - £8.30/Student - £5.95

What is now a museum of contemporary design was formerly a 1940s banana warehouse. The building was converted by Sir Terence Conran, almost beyond recognition, to resemble architecture of the International Modernist style of the 1930s. You've got a little while yet, but go and check out the Design Museum before it's moved to a larger, new site at the former Commonwealth Institute in 2015.

Designer views

James Kirkup

"The Commonwealth Centre - the future of the The Design Museum, and a collousal architectural piece of art." - James Kirkup, graphic designer at Poke

Tom Muller

"If you're a designer, the London Design Museum is a must-see. It's a lovely building and, yes, its about design in all its forms. I'm looking forward to their move to the old Commonwealth building in Kensington, which looks to be an amazing venue for it." - Tom Muller, freelance graphic designer and art director

The London Eye

  • Location: Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB (map)
  • URL: www.londoneye.com
  • Opening times: Mon-Sun: 10:00 - 20:30
  • Entry: Senior - £15.30/Adult - £19.20/Child - £12.30 (standard tickets)

For some of the best views in London, jump on one of the city's biggest tourist attractions, The London Eye. The vision of husband and wife architect team David Marks and Julia Barfield, the wheel design was used as a metaphor for the end of the 20th century, and time turning into the new millennium. On a good weather day, the wheel's engineering and design allows passengers in the London Eye's capsules to see up to 40 kilometres in all directions.

Designer view

Suki Hubbard

"The wheel offers not only a great view to help get your bearings, but a starting point to then take all day tripping alongside The Thames and South Bank. Watch street performers, stumble upon installations, festivals, pop-up restaurants and exhibitions and galleries beneath the OXO tower. Stop for lunch at the OXO tower (another view and cool surroundings) and then wander further along to Tate Modern and The Globe!" - Suki Hubbard, freelance graphic designer

Royal Festival Hall

For a dose of history, head over to The Royal Festival Hall, which was built to mark the 1951 Festival of Britain. A 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue, the listed building was built as a beacon of hope after the horrors of war. The biggest and most visible Modernist building at the time, the Royal Festival Hall was designed by Leslie Martin, Peter Moro, and Robert Matthews.

Designer view

Neil McFarland

"I'm lucky enough to live next to the Festival Hall and would urge everyone to visit and explore this incredible building. The hall was built as part of the Festival of Britain opening on 3 May 1951 and is a modernist design temple. Since the late 1980s it has operated an ‘open foyers’ policy, which means it’s one of the few free public spaces worth visiting and regularly stages free events and shows." - Neil McFarland, lead visual designer at ustwo

  • Location: Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA (map)
  • URL: www.serpentinegallery.org
  • Opening times: Mon-Sun: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Entry: Free (£1 donation suggested)

The Serpentine Gallery alone is a fantastic source of inspiration for any designer. But one its most celebrated features is its yearly summer pavilion installation. With over a decade of stunning architectural designs and installations, designers featured include Zaha Hadid (2000), Toyto Ito and Cecil Balmond (2002), Oscar Niemeyer (2003) and Frank Gehry (2008). We can't wait to see what's in store for 2013!

Designer view

May Foster

"The Serpentine summer pavilion is a great place to visit. Each year it's designed by a different artist or architect." - May Foster, graphic designer at Links of London

The Shard

  • Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG (map)
  • URL: the-shard.com/
  • Opening times: Mon-Sun: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Entry: Adult - £24.95/Child - £18.95 (advance)

The newest addition to London's beautiful skyline is a 95-storey skyscraper known as The Shard. Completed last year, this impressive building stands at over 300 metres high, making it the tallest in Western Europe. Its irregular pyramidal shape was designed by Italian award-winning architect Renzo Piano. Open to the public for the first time in February 2013, check out the views from the open-air observation deck - the UK's highest - on the 72nd floor.

Designer view

Iris van Zwam

"Londoners have seen it ‘grow up’ as it were and next month we’ll hear it speak for the first time as The Shard is opening to the public. For a great view from a new height in London, designed in 2000 by Renzo Piano and standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union." - Iris van Zwam, development manager at gpstudio

South Bank

To really witness creativity in London, a trip to South Bank is a must. The 1951 Festival of Britain redefined South Bank as the place for arts and entertainment; it's home to the Southbank Centre, the British Film Institute, the Royal Festival Hall and many more significent buildings. Wander along the river and enjoy the street performers, amazing graffiti and beautiful architecture. A designer's paradise, you're sure to find inspiration in this eclectic area of London.

Designer views

Phil Birchall

"South Bank, without question, is a must-see for anyone visiting London. Not so much a landmark, more of a stretch of river that has been transformed over the last 10 years. Walk from the London Eye, East to the the Design Museum next to Tower bridge. I challenge anyone to consume more diverse culture, architecture, heritage and design in what can be walked in 30 mins." - Phil Birchall, designer and owner of GRIN

John Oxton

"There's always plenty to see and do down here. Last time my wife and I went to South Bank there was a beach!" - John Oxton, user experience and web designer

Lucie Agolini

"It's a bit of a cliché but I really like walking along the South Bank any day it's not raining and taking in the scenery. You're spoilt for choice with landmarks down there." - Lucie Agolini, digital designer at Digital Annexe

Antar Walker

"South Bank. Something for everyone here, architecture, art and everything in between." - Antar Walker, art director at The Mill

The Spirit of Soho mural

  • Location: Corner of Carnaby Street and Broadwick Street (map)

If you're a fan of awesome street art, then you'll love this Spirit of Soho mural, created by the Soho community and completed in 1991. Depicting Soho life and dedicated to its previous residents, the mural features St Anne, dedicatee of the local church; her skirt showing the map of Soho, craftsmen and London landmarks. There's so much going on in this mural it demands more than just a flying visit. A must see!

Designer view

Ash Joseph

"For a bit of local colour, check out the enormous mural on the corner of Broadwick Street and Carnaby Street, and see how many famous people who have lived in Soho that you can recognise." - Ash Joseph, marketing creative at The Foundry

St Paul's Cathedral

  • Location: St Pauls Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD (map)
  • URL: www.stpauls.co.uk
  • Opening times: Mon-Sat: 08:30 - 16:00
  • Entry: Adults - £15/Senior & Students - £14/Child - £6

A national treasure, St Paul's Cathedral is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Designed by SIr Christopher Wren, not only does St Paul's have a world-famous dome, it also has an awe-inspiring interior and rich history. While visiting, be sure to climb the dome to the Whispering Gallery and try out its unique acoustics; a whisper on one side can be heard clearly 100 feet away. While your there, climb the 271 more steps to reach the Golden Gallery at the very top of the dome where you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across London.

Designer views

Jonathan Denby

"For me St Paul's just has an amazing feel, and a walk around the older parts of London to take in the architechture is a must for any first-time visitor to London town." - Jonathan Denby, creative professional at Digital Annexe

Lucie Agolini

"I love the Whispering Gallery in St Paul's. The architecture and acoustics are totally inspiring." - Lucie Agolini, designer at Digital Annexe

We'll be updating this post regularly, so let us know if we've missed anywhere out - and tell us about your London experiences in the comments below!

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