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London Design Biennale 2018 Public Medal

The London Design Biennale 2018 Public Medal has been awarded to Guatemala, as voted for by visitors. 

Guatemala’s installation tells the story of Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó – an initiative that seeks to transform an impoverished town on Lake Atitlán by essentially turning it into a monumental artwork. The design efforts were led by Designer Diego Olivero from Olivero & Bland Studio, a team of designers, architects and local leaders have worked with the community to paint the town’s 800 houses using patterns inspired by local textiles. Each family can choose from five colour combinations and a series of stencil designs, all based on the traditional huipil.

The intention is to boost tourism by creating a unique and beautiful townscape, and by extension a viable local economy. But it is also simply a means of engendering a sense of civic pride and building a greater connection between the Kaqchikel-speaking villagers and local and international tourism. “Santa Catarina Palopó shows how the force of social design can be used as a tool to create immediate positive impact,” says exhibition curator Cecilia Santamarina – Cultural Attaché.


  • Administering Body: Embassy of Guatemala in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Curator: Cecilia Santamarina de Orive, Cultural Attache AdHonorem, Guatemalan Embassy UK
  • Design Team: Olivero Bland Studio in Collaboration with Sylvia Denburg - Zyle
  • Designers:  Diego Olivero, Sylvia Denburg - Zyle, Juan Olivero, Thomas Bland, Andrés Velasquez, Diego Reyes, Sandra de Leon, Pablo Ramirez
  • Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guatemala, Pintando Santa Catarina Palopo, Cementos Progreso, PERENCO, INGUAT, Grupo Buena, Jaguar, Dario Escobar, CPS, Cemaco, Armet, Estudio Lucido, Chapin Films, Ministry of Economy Guatemala