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 (opens in new tab)

  • Location: Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS (map (opens in new tab))
  • URL: www.barbican.org.uk (opens in new tab)
  • 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 (opens in new tab) 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

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 (opens in new tab), freelance graphic designer and art director

May Foster

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 (opens in new tab), graphic designer at Links of London (opens in new tab)

Battersea Power Station (opens in new tab)

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

For a hint of what London was like back in the '30s, check out Battersea Power Station (opens in new tab). 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

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 (opens in new tab), creative digital designer at Digital Annexe (opens in new tab)

Mike Lythgoe

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 (opens in new tab), designer at Studio Output (opens in new tab)

Jonathan Denby

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 (opens in new tab), creative professional at Digital Annexe (opens in new tab)

Design Museum (opens in new tab)

  • Location: 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD (map (opens in new tab))
  • URL: http://designmuseum.org/ (opens in new tab)
  • 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 (opens in new tab) before it's moved to a larger, new site at the former Commonwealth Institute in 2015.

Designer views

James Kirkup

James Kirkup

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

Tom Muller

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 (opens in new tab), freelance graphic designer and art director

The London Eye (opens in new tab)

  • Location: Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB (map (opens in new tab))
  • URL: www.londoneye.com (opens in new tab)
  • 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 (opens in new tab). 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

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 (opens in new tab), freelance graphic designer

Royal Festival Hall (opens in new tab)

For a dose of history, head over to The Royal Festival Hall (opens in new tab), 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

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 (opens in new tab), lead visual designer at ustwo (opens in new tab)

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

The Serpentine Gallery (opens in new tab) 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

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 (opens in new tab), graphic designer at Links of London (opens in new tab)

The Shard (opens in new tab)

  • Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG (map (opens in new tab))
  • URL: the-shard.com/ (opens in new tab)
  • 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 (opens in new tab). 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

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 (opens in new tab), development manager at gpstudio (opens in new tab)

South Bank (opens in new tab)

  • Location: Area of Central London, located immediately adjacent to the South bank of the River Thames (map (opens in new tab))
  • URL: http://www.southbanklondon.com/ (opens in new tab)

To really witness creativity in London, a trip to South Bank (opens in new tab) 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

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 (opens in new tab), designer and owner of GRIN (opens in new tab)

John Oxton

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 (opens in new tab), user experience and web designer

Lucie Agolini

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 (opens in new tab), digital designer at Digital Annexe (opens in new tab)

Antar Walker

Antar Walker

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

The Spirit of Soho mural (opens in new tab)

  • Location: Corner of Carnaby Street and Broadwick Street (map (opens in new tab))

If you're a fan of awesome street art, then you'll love this Spirit of Soho mural (opens in new tab), 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

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 (opens in new tab), marketing creative at The Foundry (opens in new tab)

St Paul's Cathedral (opens in new tab)

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

A national treasure, St Paul's Cathedral (opens in new tab) 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

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 (opens in new tab), creative professional at Digital Annexe (opens in new tab)

Lucie Agolini

Lucie Agolini

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

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!

Discover more in our London guide

Restaurants

Nightlife

Accommodation

Shopping

Museums

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