Referencing utopian city planning, Helidon Xhixha's Bliss was a concentric arrangement of stainless steel columns and benches that are designed to encourage both self-reflection and solidarity. The mirrored surfaces of the taller columns created reflections, creating myriad opportunities for interaction. The circular layout of the benches aimed to facilitate democratic discussion and exchange, demonstrating the need for community and unification in any ideal city. With reference to the current migration crisis, the core of the installation bore the engraved outline of Europe's borders, considered by many refugees as a modern-day utopia.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Albanian Institute New York
Design Team: Helidon Xhixha (Artist); Mara Firetti (Relationship Manager)
Curator: Dino Korca
Supporting Bodies: Ottostumm; GruppoReti
The Impenetrable Forest
A WINDING PATH LEADS INTO THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST, WHERE VISITORS CAN DISCOVER THE TRADITIONS OF THE WICHIS AND PONDER ON THE TIMELESSNESS OF THEIR CRAFTS.
For a long time, El Impenetrable, located in the north of Argentina and bathed by the waters of Pilcomayo River, has been the home of the Wichis, one of the oldest ethnic groups of the region. The Wichi people are experts in weaving a type of geometric shapes, which despite being reminiscent of Anni Albers’ textile designs for the Bauhaus, is in fact a part of a very ancient sacred tradition of this native community. Design collective TRImarchi, with its base in the Argentinian city of Mar del Plata, invites visitors to travel to the heart of this impenetrable forest to learn about the Wichi culture, to contemplate their crafts and to let their beauty guide you through a unique experience. The installation evokes the textures, sounds and scents of the forest in this rich region of Argentina. Exquisite pieces created with the Wichis’ chaguar and yica techniques emulate the impenetrable flora of the land as visitors follow a bending path through the room. Most of the space is screened off by a textile barrier intended to show there are places in nature that she prefers to keep for herself. “We want visitors to find shelter in our textile forest” say TRImarchi. “It is a journey through space and time, to days when magic was the legal tender and to places where electric power didn’t pierce through us.” The Impenetrable Forest is not an examination of ancestral design from a folkloric perspective, the designers stress, but a celebration of an ongoing story of self-sustainability. “We are not spying on a culture from a display cabinet, but understanding this as an opportunity to be amazed by our own origins, to honour a universal legacy that is prior to the concept of nation.”
- Design Team: TRImarchi Collective
- Designers: Textile designer: Sol Marinucci. Architects from Fluo Studio: Javier Serena, Ariel Jinchuck. Wichi Artisans: Isabel Fernandez, Maricela Garcia, Anabel Martinez, Maricela Martinez, Sonia Fernandez, Verona Fernandez, Ayelen Fernandez, Angelina Fernandez, Evelin Fernandez, Lidia Paz, Juana Fernandez, Guillermina Fernandez, Orfilia Ibañez, Dominga Fernandez, Rosa Barraza, Carla Martinez, Mirta Tomas, Adolfina Tomas, Johana Perez, Nery Martinez. Video: Leonardo Mercado
- Curator: TRImarchi
- Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Foreign affairs and worship, The Embassy of Argentina to the UK, Secretary of Cultural Heritage - Ministry of Culture, British Council Argentina, TMDG.
Designer Brodie Neill's Plastic Effects highlighted an ugly problem: the estimated five trillion plastic items that pollute the world's oceans. Fragmented particles of plastic –a material once considered utopian in itself – enter the food chain to devastate marine life of all kinds, and thousands of tonnes of debris are washed up on Australia's coastline every year. Neill's installation highlighted this problem by harvesting and recycling marine micro-plastic to produce a terrazzo-like composite, inlaid as a kaleidoscopic diagram, displayed here in the Gyro table.
Administering Body: Australian High Commission, London
Designer: Brodie Neill
Curators: The National Gallery of Victoria (curatorial support)
Supporting Bodies: The Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; University of Tasmania; Dr Jennifer Lavers, Institute of Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania (research); Riva 1920
FLYNN TALBOT’S RAINBOW-COLOURED FULL SPECTRUM IS A CELEBRATION OF LOVE, INSPIRED BY A NEW SPIRIT OF OPENNESS IN HIS NATIVE COUNTRY.
The inspiration for Flynn Talbot’s installation came just before Christmas 2017 when, after a decade of bitter debate, Australia became the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage. The amendment to the Marriage Act followed an unprecedented national postal survey in which 62 per cent of voters approved the law change. “I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride and a basic love for humanity,” Talbot says. “In Australia, there is now a new notion of what love is, and it is tangible in the air.” The designer has sought to capture something of this fleeting emotion in visible light. Visitors will be presented with a circular, freestanding structure, from which hangs a rainbow-coloured light screen. “With the Pride flag being such a strong global symbol of love, it was an obvious choice for me to create an installation that used the full spectrum of colours,” says Talbot. The light screen is made from 150 strands of fibre-optic light, each one a different colour. Visitors are able to touch and move through the light strands, feeling the coloured light in their hands, or they can simply stand within the space and be surrounded with a rainbow colour wash. “I wanted people to be able to feel and experience every colour of light, just as now in Australia people are open to every way of loving. I hope the open and accepting nature of the new Australia is felt through my installation.”
A reflection on the fragile balance of utopia, mischer'traxler's kinetic light sculpture, LeveL, was poised to unsteady itself at the slightest movement. When the mobile is perfectly still, the lights are at their brightest, illuminating the room fully. As visitors entered and moved around the space, their breath and the drafts of air created made the rods tilt and the LEDs dim, setting the mobile out of balance. The delicate and ever-changing sculpture reflected on the precariousness of the utopian ideal, and its potential to unravel when subjected to the reality of everyday life.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Austria Design Net
Design Team: mischer'traxler studio
Curator: Thomas Geisler / MAK Vienna
Supporting Bodies: Federal Chancellery of Austria — Arts and Culture; Advantage Austria; Austrian Cultural Forum London
AFTER ABUNDANCE TRANSPORTS VISITORS INTO AN ALPINE LANDSCAPE PILLAGED BY CLIMATE CHANGE, WHERE HUMAN INGENUITY OFFERS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL.
The Austrian installation, After Abundance, gives a glimpse of life in a country contending with the stark realities of climate change. “The uncertainty in facing climate change triggers fear, anger and the feeling of helplessness,” says curator Thomas Geisler. “It’s something we have little control over as individuals; but collectively we can find inventive ways to deal with these challenges.” Visitors will enter a typical Austrian farmhouse. They can hear raindrops on the roof and a radio report about poisoned rain. A disassembled drone lies on the dining table, among other objects gesturing at everyday life in this speculative future. “Visitors will notice a gap in a walled-off space, a pink glow, a low hum, and the clinking of glassware hinting towards something brewing behind a closed door,” says designer Anab Jain. “A rhythm of drums and cowbells draw closer and grow louder, beastly shadows emerge and loom on the floors and surfaces.” As the journey progresses, visitors are confronted with life-sized figures spraying water to replenish a melting glacier, while the sounds of howling wind and cracking ice echo across the space. “The installation shows how local communities face down new challenges with tradition and technology using craft and cunningness to thrive in an altered landscapes,” says Jain. “We want visitors to leave with the realisation that beyond the fear caused by such turbulence, there lies hope, and an opportunity for transformative action.”Credits:
- Administering Body: The Austrian Federal Chancellery / Section II – Art and Culture
- Design Team: Studio Design Investigations: Catalina Gomez Alvarez, Ali Kerem Atalay, Julia Brandl, Sophie Falkeis, Carmen Farr, Lang Fei, Sarah Franzl, Laura Hoek, Fabio Hofer, Catherine Hu, Ege Kökel, Felix Lenz, Lucy Li, Mia Meusburger, Anna Neumerkel, Simon Platzgummer, Bernhard Poppe, Isabel Prade, Ula Reutina, Maximilian Scheidl, Florian Semlitsch, Lisi Sharp, Silvio Skarwan, Agnieszka Zagraba. Led by Professor Anab Jain and Team: Stefan Zinell, Nikolas Heep, Matthias Pfeffer, Peter Knobloch, Bernhard Ranner, Justin Pickard
- Partners: section.a, abc works, Bueronardin
- Curator: Thomas Geisler
- Supporting Bodies: Werkraum Bregenzerwald, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Land Vorarlberg, Vorarlberg Tourismus, Vienna Business Agency, Austrian Cultural Forum London, Geyer & Geyer
Belgium mused on today's EUtopia by producing a new utopian map as a symbolic wake-up call for Europe. Thomas More's Utopia was first published in the Belgian city of Leuven, along with a map of the fictional island in the shape of a human skull. Belgium's design team reconsidered these utopian roots in light of the Belgium of 500 years later; Brussels is Europe's capital but, with Brexit, the 50-year dream of a united Europe is fast unravelling. The artist van Innis, whose murals in Maalbeek subway station, just 600m from the EU parliament, were destroyed in last year's terrorist attack, considered this uncertain future in a new map of EUtopia.
Administering Body: DAMnation
Designer: Benoît van Innis
Curators: DAMNº magazine: Siegrid Demyttenaere, Walter Bettens
Time to Get Out
BERGHAUS'S INSTALLATION INVITED VISITORS TO ESCAPE FROM THE STRESSES AND CHAOS OF MODERN LIFE, PROMPTING A MOMENT OF REALISATION AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO RESOLVE EMOTIONS BY SHARING TIME TOGETHER ON THE BEAUTIFUL, TRANQUIL CANVAS OF THE OUTDOORS.
As we wrestle with our hectic lives, it’s all too easy for us to get swept into spending time on things which, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t really that important. Berghaus’s installation, Time to Get Out, called out these superficial touchpoints and offered an alternative. ‘We want visitors to experience a moment of clarity that convinces them that they can find their true selves by moving away from the oppressive, intense stress that comes hand in hand with modern life, by connecting with the outdoors’, the designers said.
Visitors were taken on a journey from an enclosed space in the middle of a big city to a light-filled expanse representative of the outdoors. They first entered a tunnel of corrugated metal that reflected the everyday pressures of modern urban life and invoked a claustrophobic feeling. An oppressive misophonia of sound added to the growing sense of stressfulness as visitors became increasingly disconnected from the outside world. Eventually, however, they emerged into a translucent, full-height space, where a painting representing the different seasons was projected onto a vast canvas. In the heart of Somerset House, the outdoors was brought to life, giving visitors an opportunity to reflect on how they spend their valuable time.
- Design Team: Katie Greenyer, Samuel Whitaker, Laura Allcott, James Hodgeson
- Thanks to; Berghaus, Pentland Creative Agency, Right lines Communications, Pentland Communications
- Supplier: Litestructures, Beam lighting, Janek Schaefer Sound
DAVID ELIA’S DESMATAMENTO CAPTURED THE VULNERABILITY OF BRAZIL’S RAINFOREST AND THE EMOTIONAL TOLL OF ITS CONTINUING DESTRUCTION.
Despite reductions in deforestation over the last ten years, at the current rate the Amazon rainforest will be reduced by 40 per cent by 2030. David Elia’s goal in creating the installation Desmatamento (or Deforestation) was not only to give voice to ecological anger but to share the beauty and emotional significance of the rainforest to Brazil. “Human emotion is vital to the continuation of this healthy and thriving ecosystem,” he said.
Visitors entered a room furnished with stools crafted from the branches of found Eucalyptus trees – a fast-growing species that is widely used in Brazil for reforestation. Because it is cultivated on a short rotation, the wood is produced sustainably, helping to preserve the native forests from logging. On the walls, a printed wallpaper evoked the breathtaking Mata Atlântica rainforest, which stretches along Brazil’s east coast. “The printed design evokes the topography of the tropical forests where various sizes and shapes of plants coexist,” said Elia. “The blue pigment at the base of the trunks symbolises the mark used by forest wardens to indicate trees that are to be saved.”
Beyond its symbolic resonances, Desmatamento was also intended to capture the sense of being in a rainforest. A bespoke aroma created an “imaginary portal” into the Mata Atlântica, immersing visitors in this fragile world. “It is a constant reminder of this delicate ecosystem,” said Elia, “and the emotional uncertainty it causes to many living beings.”
- Designed by David Elia Design Studio
- Curator: Waldick Jatoba
- Film Director: Tünde Albert
- Supporting Bodies: MADE Mercado Arte Design, Instituto Bardi / Casa de Vidro, Instituto Campana
THE CANADIANS – AN EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE' TOOK VISITORS ON A CROSS-COUNTRY JOURNEY THROUGH TOWNS, VILLAGES, CROSSROADS AND COVES WHOSE NAMES HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY EMOTIONS.
The inspiration for Bruce Mau Design’s installation was rooted in the powerful connection between Canada’s diverse landscapes and the range of emotions they produce—a connection that Canadians understand very deeply. The team were struck by the fact that so many places in Canada are named after emotional states – from Happy Adventure, Newfoundland to Hope, British Columbia by way of Love, Saskatchewan. “We began to realise that something powerful must be happening in these communities to produce this phenomenon,” said Hunter Tura, Chief Executive Officer of Bruce Mau Design.
Visitors were taken on a coast-to-coast journey, in which videos of epic landscapes were juxtaposed with more intimate stories narrated by the citizens that inhabit them. The gallery was walled on three sides with a “forest” of mirrored tubes, creating a dynamic and almost infinite set of reflections, placing visitors in the heart of these sublime panoramas.
Bruce Mau Design aimed to tap into Canada’s natural diversity with focus on how the nation’s culture and emotional state is shaped by the vastness of its landscapes, from epic to intimate. “We want to create an emotional journey that shows the richness and complexity of Canadian life in the 21st century,” said Tura. “In a larger sense, we’re also interested in a greater consideration of the relationship we have with our surroundings, and how they make us feel.”
- Administering Body: The High Commission of Canada in the UK
- Design Team: BRUCE MAU DESIGN
- Designers: Rosanna Vitiello, Tom Keogh, Lauren Grudzinski, Luis Coderque, Michael Mavian, Raymundo Pavan, Sebastian Rodriguez, Wendy Robertson
- Curator: Hunter Tura
- Supporting Bodies: British Council Canada, Facebook, Global Affairs Canada, ONEX
The Counterculture Room
A 1970s utopian project to give a socialist state a democratic electronic backbone was reconstructed in The Counterculture Room. The socialist government of Salvador Allende imagined giving the state a cybernetic spine, enabling ministers to view economic information in real time and make informed decisions from a futuristic hub that resembles a set from Kubrick's 2001. This project was called 'Cybersyn' and it was a precursor to today's 'smart city'. Chile's installation — curated by Andrés Briceño Gutierrez and Tomás Vivanco Larraín, and designed by FabLab Santiago — told the story of the Cybersyn experience.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes
Design Team: FabLab Santiago
Curators: Andres Briceño Gutierrez, Tomas Vivanco Larraín
Supporting Bodies: Fundación Imagen de Chile; Dirección de Asuntos Culturales del Ministerio de RREE (DIRAC)
London Design Biennale 2018 Medal: Honorable Mention
Reclaiming a collective monument as shared place: The Memory Project of Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
RECLAIMING A COLLECTIVE MONUMENT AS SHARED PLACE REVEALED HOW THE NANJING YANGTZE RIVER BRIDGE BECAME A POPULAR ICON AND ENGRAINED ITSELF ON THE NATION’S COLLECTIVE MEMORY AND HOW CONTEMPORARY DESIGN-BASED PLACE-MAKING HAS RECLAIMED THE MONUMENT AS A PLACE OF MEMORIES AND EMOTIONS.
The Chinese pavilion considered the emotional significance of an iconic structure and how it became part of the nation’s collective memory. The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge was completed in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution and was the first modern bridge in China to be designed and built without foreign assistance. At more than 4.5km in length, the double-deck roadrail bridge quickly became a national symbol of technological achievement, its image and the story of its construction disseminated through mass media, such as propaganda posters and lowcost photography. “The bridge is an exceptional case of a single monument which in the radical 1960s and 70s sparked an emotional state among a whole nation,” explained curator Andong Lu. “It became the pinpoint of a shared memory and people from all over China had their own stories to tell about it.”
The exhibition explored how this collective memory came into being, revealing to visitors a historic space that was both real and imagined. Since 2014, LanD Studio has collaborated with historians and local artists on the Memory Project of the Nanjing Yangtze Bridge, amassing an archive of artefacts, memories and audio and visual evidence – a selection of which was on display at London Design Biennale.
Over the years, through a combination of design projects, exhibitions, participatory campaigns, the Memory Project gradually reclaimed this ideological monument as a contemporary public space – in other words, to give it a new emotional resonance. “It is important to re-access the memory of the bridge in a creative way, so that we can gradually redefine the icon.”
- Administering Body: Nanjing University
- Design Team: LanD Studio
- Curator: Andong Lu
- Supporting Bodies: Jiangsu Art Museum, Shanghai Railway Administration (Nanjing Section)
Shenzhen: New Peak
URBANUS - representing China with their installation Shenzhen: New Peak - addressed the challenges of rapid urban development on limited land resources with a proposal for a series of megastructures that are small cities in themselves. Within just 35 years, Shenzhen, in south-east China, has grown rapidly from a rural town with a mere 300,000 inhabitants to a sprawling metropolis of over 17 million people. As a solution, URBANUS proposed sustainable megastructures to accommodate a growing population of young immigrants, and to support an improved quality of life through shared public facilities and integrated technological solutions.
Administering Body: Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Association
Design Team: URBANUS
Curator: Xiaodu Liu
Supporting Bodies: Shenzhen International Culture Exchange Association; Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Office
IN TRIADA, DAVID DEL VALLE EXPLORED THE COMPLEX IDENTITY OF A COUNTRY WHERE HAPPINESS AND OPTIMISM CO-EXIST WITH THE PAIN AND SHAME OF THE WAR YEARS.
Colombia is a country whose recent past has been framed by armed conflict and violence related to the drug trade. David Del Valle, curator of the country's first entry to London Design Biennale, explained that this has created a largely negative impression of its culture and society. “Colombia is a country full of prejudices, many of them erroneous, others true, but the vast majority exaggerated,” he said.
In response to this, Del Valle created an installation that juxtaposed the emotional states that exist in a country that does not deny its troubled past, but refuses to be defined by it. “Our installation makes reference to two realities: the pain and shame that Colombians feel about the armed conflict; but also the happiness and pride they have for their country and the opportunity we see with the peace process.”
The installation was called Triada (or Triad in English), in reference to the emotions of pain, pride and happiness. A circuit was designed to allow people to journey from negative to positive states, exploring sounds and images that made them feel a range of sentiments. “We want visitors to focus on their feelings in a space where aesthetics, images and sounds try to showcase the reality of a country,” said Del Valle. The images and textures on display were all inspired by traditional manufacturing techniques that are unique to the country. “We want visitors to take away the image of a country that is moving forward, highlighting the positive emotions that we, as natives, recognise and feel.”
- Administering Body: The Embassy of Colombia, London.
- Design Team: Tu Taller Design studio & partners
- Designers: Oliver Juggins, Jorge Lizarazo, Andrés Hincapié, Miguel Isaza, Rafael Zuñiga
- Curator: David Del Valle
- Supporting Bodies: Medellin Design Week, Tu Taller Design, ProColombia, Marca País CO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia
Collectives have long been a source of utopian principles and practices — and Croatia has a history of producing them. Curator Maša Milovac invited eight emerging designers to join forces and form the Utopian Collective to draw on this ethos of cooperation. As well as presenting a set of objects produced by the designers, the result of a series of workshops, the collective interprets the process itself as an end result. It explored collaborative design as a possible response to the individualistic practices set up as imperatives of competitiveness in consumer society and a neoliberal market environment.
Administering Bodies: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia; Croatian Designers Association
Design Team: Maja Čule, Mauro Ferlin, Hrvoje Hiršl, Maja Kolar, Mauro Massarotto, Maša Poljanec, Oleg Šuran, Hrvoje Živčić
Curator: Maša Milovac
Supporting Body: Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the United Kingdom
Cuba celebrated a political revolution in 1959; now it is on the cusp of a digital revolution, which is given structure in the modular system, PARAWIFI. There are now 135 wi-fi spots in Cuba, most in Havana. As smartphone users surf the web, using prepaid access cards, and engage with the utopian realm that is the virtual cloud, they have to stand or sit on the kerb and other makeshift street furniture. The designers Luis Ramirez and Michel Aguilar want to change all that with a series of pods, reminiscent of Verner Panton's Living Towers, that can be clustered to form digital oases that radically rethink urban space.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body Foundation Caguayo
Design Team Luis Ramirez, Michel Aguilar
Curators: Luis Ramirez, Michel Aguilar
Supporting Body: Design and Printing TOKAO
SHPEEL IS A PROTOTYPE TOOL THAT AIMS TO TACKLE THE CITY’S GROWING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. AN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT WAS CREATED FOR THE BIENNALE, SHOWING HOW THE TOOL ALLOWS YOUNG PEOPLE IN DISTRESS TO COMMUNICATE THEIR FEELINGS TO PROFESSIONALS WITHOUT HAVING TO USE WORDS.
Dundee has the fourth highest rate of unemployment in the UK, and some of the highest levels of deprivation in Scotland, both of which have been linked to anxiety and depression among the young population. The city’s entry to London Design Biennale explored how gaming and virtual technology can be used as an emotional tool, helping reticent young people to start talking about their mental health. “One of the problems we came across from speaking with counsellors and practitioners from local youth collectives and health services was that young people in distress often don’t have the language to describe how they feel,” said designers Malath Abbas and Tom deMajo of Biome Collective. “We asked ‘what can video games do to help young people start the conversation about mental health?’”
Called Shpeel (a misspelling of the word “spiel” which can mean either “to speak” or “to play”), the installation was a 360-degree immersive environment – a virtual multi-person experience manifested in real space. Visitors entered a small gallery filled with sound and colourful moving imagery. In the centre of the space, a sculptural object housed a collection of interactive controls with which users created and activated an abstract object – an “emotional avatar”. They immediately transformed the space they were in – the colour, sound and objects that entered it – and saw what happened when they interacted with the avatars of others. “It allows them to describe the nuances of how they’re feeling without words and to share that emotion visually with others,” said Abbas and deMajo. “It’s a place for quiet conversation.”
- Administering Body: Tilde Arts in partnership with Creative Dundee
- Design Team: Biome Collective
- Curator: Tilde Arts
- Partners: The Corner, NHS Tayside, and Hot Chocolate Trust, Dundee
- Supporting Bodies: Creative Scotland, UNESCO City of Design Dundee, Abertay University, NEoN Digital Arts Festival, University of Dundee, Epson
London Design Biennale 2018 Medal
MODERNIST INDIGNATION WAS AN ELEGY FOR A RAPIDLY DISAPPEARING CULTURE, SEEN THROUGH THE PRISM OF THE FIRST ARABIC DESIGN MAGAZINE.
The Egyptian installation mourned the loss of the country’s modernist architecture, a rich heritage that has been left to ruin or violently erased, and asked the question: how can a design language that was once embraced by a society be so easily forgotten and denied a place in history?
Visitors saw a contemporary reinterpretation of a fictional 1939 exhibition put on by the editors of Al Emara, the first Arabic-language design magazine, which was published between 1939 and 1959. The original exhibition would have explored the magazine’s mission, but at the Biennale it stood as a testament to a lost culture, said curator Mohamed Elshahed. “In the absence of accessible archives for the study and documentation of modernist architecture in Egypt, the magazine, scattered between private collections and antique booksellers, is the most comprehensive record of the country’s embrace of modernist design. Many of the buildings published in the magazine have been demolished, mutated or suffer from poor upkeep and no heritage status has been granted to any structure of modernist design.”
The display also included a video shot in the house of Sayed Karim, the architect who founded Al Emara, who ran into political trouble with the state in 1965 after an illustrious career. The slow, contemplative journey through the house was accompanied by a voiceover of Karim’s 1939 manifesto, “What is architecture?” Meanwhile, as visitors walked around the exhibition, they unwittingly participated in erasing the logo of the magazine, temporarily inscribed on the floor. “A design language can be popular yet it can be done away with and forgotten so swiftly without proper documentation, study and archiving,” said Elshahed. “Design culture is vulnerable.”
- Administering bodies: Zein Khalifa (Tintera) and Cairobserver
- Design team: Suzanne Gaballa (Lund Gaballa Architects), Nick Westby (Westby & Jones Ltd.), Ahmed Tahoun, Valerie Arif, Amarasri Songcharoen (Seam Design)
- Curator: Mohamed Elshahed
- Supporting Bodies: Orascom Developments, Pharos Holding for Financial Investments, Barjeel Art Foundation, British Council, Mrs. Sherine Sawiris, Mrs. Cherine Helmy
Mask II was a new iteration of Es Devlin’s project-mapped sculptural commission located in the Great Arch Hall of Somerset House.
An ovoid, mask-shaped concave form was sculpturally imprinted with dense urban geometry. A river divided the map: a mirror-distorted image of a human brain.
A film was superimposed on the sculpture, transforming it into a distorting mirror, sometimes glass, sometimes diffusing treacherously into water. A reflected face tried repeatedly to find itself, to define itself, working its way through a series of masks and states: emotional, geographical and geometrical.
The work considered the range of scales of time and space that we simultaneously perceive and choose to remain blind to as we calibrate our position within the period that we now call the Anthropocene: when what we know about the environmental impact of each thing we touch will soon preclude us from touching anything in the same way again.
- Designer: Es Devlin
- Design Team: Luke Halls Studio (Video design), res.lab (Sound design), Jade Pybus (Vocals), Canon (Projection Equipment), Rossco LTD (Sound Equipment), Michael Whiteley (Construction), Bay productions, Ruby Law (Associate designer)
le bruit des bonbons — The Astounding Eyes of Syria
Memories of Syria were collected and shared through le bruit des bonbons — The Astounding Eyes of Syria in a bid to preserve, stir up and share immaterial memories of its living heritage. Benjamin Loyauté visited displaced Syrians and refugees to make a film that tells of the tragedy of the war and the memories that survive untrammelled. By collecting 'memories of sweets', Loyauté hoped to preserve these stories, while also provoking our will to act. The visitor was invited, in a performance, to buy packets of Loyauté's candy, modelled on an Assyrian idol, from a vending machine. All proceeds helped educate children of displaced families and refugees.
Administering Body: Business France
Designer: Benjamin Loyauté
Supporting Bodies: Business France; Institut français
Utopia Means Elsewhere
took its title from a quote by John Malkovich that is set in classic typography on an outsized easel in a brilliant white space. In an ancillary, darkened room visitors could sit in chairs of Grcic's design in contemplation around a flickering, hypnotic digital fire, so as to encourage your mind to drift off 'elsewhere'. This was intended to encourage collective dreaming and evoke humanity's primordial fantasy of a better world.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: German Design Council
Design Team: Konstantin Grcic, Olivia Herms
Curator: Konstantin Grcic
Supporting Bodies: Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy; Federal Foreign Office; Foundation Deutsches Design Museum
Pure Gold – Upcycling and its Emotional Touch
PURE GOLD HIGHLIGHTED THE ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE WE INFLICT WITH OUR WASTE, AND EXPLORED OUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES TO TRANSFORMED TRASH.
The world is asphyxiating itself with its trash, filling oceans with micro-plastics and choking cities with pollution. Pure Gold showcased 30 approaches to creative waste and considered their emotional resonance: how can we give a value and new context to waste, turning ecological anger into objects of desire?
In contrast to industrial recycling processes, upcycling methods do not aim for mass production. The focus is more on the artistic redesign of already used materials, with the aim of making high-quality functional and consumer goods. Juli Foos, for example, created a carpet out of doughnut packaging that she collects; Roswitha Berger-Gentsch made delicate amphora-shaped receptacles from supermarket cartons; Waltraud Münzhuber weaved film strips of old favourite films into durable containers; and Tobias Juretzeck used his own discarded clothes as part of a chair.
“The exhibited works show that upcycling is neither an inferior production method, nor an ecological niche project nor a specific ‘postmodern’ strategy, but a global contemporary design concept,” said curator Volker Albus.
Alongside the idea of added value, upcycling also relies on strong emotional connections. “As the materials used are familiar to us, the objects in this exhibition engender a subtle sense of identification,” said Albus. “These objects are part of our urban environment and they are firmly anchored in our everyday lives. This makes their new aesthetic value all the more remarkable. We are astonished and amazed.”
The furniture, carpets, lamps and containers were displayed on plywood boxes which, in line with the theme, were also used to transport the exhibits. In addition to the exhibited works, a screen showed the Pure Gold digital platform. This included interviews with designers, as well as short, entertaining presentations of upcycling methods.
- Administering Body: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)
- Design Team: Designer names noted next to each item
- Curators: Volker Albus, Axel Kufus, Lapatsch/Unger (digital curators)
- Supporting Bodies: Federal Foreign Office
The concept of ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ (pron. anipakoi) has been used throughout history to describe the Greek temperament, with explorations of disobedience dating back to Ancient Greece and its internationally influential mythology. From the cautionary tales of Ikaros and Antigone, to Prometheus, a hero who feels a moral obligation to disobey the gods in order to create opportunities for human progress. Greece's design explored this duality in the nature of disobedience. How can we design to evoke disobedience yet harness its constructive and creative form?
In the spirit of disobedience, Greece’s kinetic installation changed our interactions with the physical environment, challenging a perception of architecture as something static, or emotionally inert. It encouraged visitors to imagine a world in which buildings, boundaries and walkways morphed and adapted in response to human intent, shedding light on a potential future for cities.
ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ comprised of a 17 metre-long wall constructed from a steel spring skeleton built up with recycled plastic which flexed, morphed and breathed around the human body. Visitors transgressed through this mechanical boundary, and as they walked, experienced the skin of the wall transforming in response. The public were invited to participate in a mood of creative disobedience by transitioning from an obedient spectator to a disobedient actor, physically passing through (or ‘in between’) the wall along an undulating walkway. Emotions such as curiosity, ambivalence, frustration, temptation, excitement and wonder were amplified, as visitors experienced the feeling of passing in between a boundary and uniquely impacting its shape.
- Designed, engineered and curated by: Studio INI led by Nassia Inglessis, Lead Designer and Engineer with team E. Brial, M. Vordonarakis, L. Walker, N. L'Huillier, A. Yioti and with Neiheiser Argyros, C. Hornzee-Jones, Elliott Wood Partnership Ltd.
- With thanks to: G. Piscitelli, J. Bertolaso, S. Roots, F. Avgerinos, A. Lavail. With thanks for their fundraising efforts to: A. Kyriakopoulou, G. Kekatos, L. Modiano, D. Spiegelberg.
- Primary sponsor: Eurobank Private Bank Luxembourg.
- Other sponsors: Yiotis S.A., U. Kyriakopoulos, TERNA S.A., NEON, Martinos Art, Leventis Foundation, King’s College London, VETA S.A, E. Tsangrides, F. Kyriacopoulos, Plomari Ouzo S.A., SmilePlastics.
Utopian Landscape, a digital recreation of a marble quarry at Dionysus, was potent ground for an investigation into heritage, trade and population movement. For on·entropy, marble and light served as useful metaphors for the shifting social and cultural patterns caused by migration, and for the paradoxes, continuities and disruptions of utopia. Marble idols, made in the Cyclades islands 5,000 years ago, were widely distributed across the Aegean Sea, providing evidence of early trade and travels. The Greek team referenced the current flows and transitions of people, contextualised against a long history of population movement through Greece - a geographic bridge between east and west.
Administering Body: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports
Design Team: Niki and Zoe Moskofoglou of on • entropy; Eleftheria Deko, Domnika Gregoriades (design); Daphne Stylianou, Zoe Moskofoglou (research); Production: Giorgos Malekakis (photography); Vassilis Sfakianopoulos (mapping director); dtmh (video); Nikos Eleftheras (music)
Curators: on • entropy
Supporting Bodies: NEON; Upstream; Nopera; Dionysos Marble; Foundation of the Hellenic World; Martinos Art and Antiques
London Design Biennale 2018 Public Medal
PALOPÓ SHOWED HOW A PROJECT TO PAINT A WHOLE TOWN IN VIBRANT PATTERNS INSPIRED BY THEIR ANCESTRAL TEXTILE PATTERNS TRANSFORMED ITS ECONOMY AND INSTILLED HOPE FOR ITS FUTURE.
Guatemala’s installation told the story of Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó – an initiative that seeked 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, and a team of designers, architects and local leaders worked with the community to paint the town’s 800 houses using patterns inspired by local textiles. Each family chose from five colour combinations and a series of stencil designs, all based on the traditional huipil.
The intention was to boost tourism by creating a unique and beautiful townscape, and by extension a viable local economy. But it was 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,” said exhibition curator Cecilia Santamarina – Cultural Attaché.
The floating installation of contemporary geometric forms resembled the multi-colored houses of the town designed and developed by Diego Olivero from Olivero Bland Studio while a textile mobile, designed by Zyle using repurposed local textiles, hinted at the volcanic mountains that surround it. “Through the materials, colors and whimsical feeling that everything is floating, we wish to bring a dreamlike feeling of hope,” said 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
Radiance by Haberdashery Studio investigated our emotional responses to the colours of sunset, from pure joy at the vast, mysterious beauty of our nearest star to reflections on the fleeting nature of existence.
Throughout history, artists have used light and darkness to symbolise emotional states. With the Radiance installation, Haberdashery Studio continued this tradition by investigating the colours of sunset and the feelings that they inspire in us all. “While a sunrise can represent a new life or hope, a sunset often represents the ephemerality of existence,” the studio said. “The fragility of a perfect sunset, often visible for mere minutes, has tangible parallels with our own lives.”
The installation consistsed of three glass sculptures designed to re-create the hues of light that fill the sky when the sun begins to dip below the horizon. Each sculpture was made of six dual-layered glass planes that rose above and around a “solar” light source. Spotlights passed additional light through the glass layers, causing concentric arcs of colour and reflection to spill across each surface of the gallery. “Each sculpture shows a range of colour that is recognisable and yet unique,” said Haberdashery, “a fleeting moment frozen in raw colour.”
Haberdashery said they wanted to instigate a very personal emotional response in each viewer, drawing on their own connections with sunsets, often from childhood. Visitors were able to bathe in the light, lying down next to the sculptures to let the colours wash over their bodies. Or they could simply stand and admire the sunset, reflecting on how the vast and often unimaginable processes at work within our nearest star stir a sense of joy and wonder in us all.
Design team: Haberdashery Studio
SENSORIAL ESTATES CONJURED THE EVOCATIVE SMELLS OF THE 'FRAGRANT HARBOUR', AND EXPLORED HOW THEY REAWAKEN EMOTIONS FROM THE DISTANT PAST.
Why is smell so evocative of memories of a time and place? How do aromas resuscitate so vividly our dormant emotional states? The Hong Kong entry, Sensorial Estates, seeked to explore this realm of Proustian rushes from time past.
In the transient, fast-paced, sub-tropical metropolis of Hong Kong, the scents tied to its identity are as varied as its constantly changing population and landscape. “We’ve created an aromatic journey that blends stories about the emotional connection of aroma to food cultures, cha chaan tengs [Hong Kong diners], worship and the very origins of the meaning of the name Hong Kong – which translates as ‘Fragrant Harbour’ – within personal and collective memories,” said curator of design objects, Elaine Young. “We hope to remind visitors of the power of smell as a transporter and time machine. Visitors are invited to experience more about the design objects by visiting the space.”
Passing through the Sensorial Estates pavilion, visitors opened boxes of objects infused with Hong Kong aromas and smelt the scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, breathing in scents indelibly associated with Hong Kong, such as opium, egg tarts, incense or the roast ducks that hang in rows in the windows of street restaurants and tea cafes. “Every time I smell that scent,” said co-chair Wendy W Fok, “no matter where it is or what I’m doing, the emotional state it generates is the same. I could become a completely different person, have my DNA warped somehow, and that sensorial estate would still be there in my memory.”
- Design Team: WE-DESIGNS, LAByrinth PROJECT
- Designers: Wendy W Fok, Camila Varon and WE-DESIGNS (Spatial), Elaine Young (Design Objects)
- Curator: Wendy W Fok & Lillian He (Social Media), Camila Varon (Producer), Elaine Young (Design Objects)
- Supporting Bodies: Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London; Jeffrey Sun, New York; WE-DESIGNS, Hong Kong/New York; LAByrinth PROJECT, Hong Kong / New York
A Kiss in Budapest
THE HUNGARIAN FASHION AND DESIGN AGENCY INVITED VISITORS TO SHARE A KISS IN BUDAPEST, AND FIND OUT HOW VIRTUAL TECHNOLOGY CAN BRING US TOGETHER AND HEIGHTEN OUR EMOTIONAL MEMORIES.
Hungary’s installation brought a touch of romance to London Design Biennale, celebrating both the architecture of the Hungarian capital and moments of intimacy. Kiss in Budapest explored the relationship between digital culture and human emotions: while ubiquitous technology has made communication easier, it cannot replace the warmth of real-life moments with loved ones. The installation played with this ambiguity, drawing on seemingly opposing elements such as heritage and contemporary design, intimacy and distance.
Couples entered the darkened installation from opposite sides and met in a clean, homogeneous space, where the only things that they focused on are their expressions and emotions. The space was equipped with LEDs, cameras and a green screen, as well as sensors detecting the couple’s movements in front of the screen and the intimate moment of the kiss.
Meanwhile, the scene outside the room was quite different – instead of high-tech minimalism, it was almost reminiscent of a tourist attraction. Those who stayed outside saw the large LED displays, meeting and kissing each other in front of Budapest’s art nouveau and neo-renaissance sights. The result was a virtual memory with a real emotional charge: their first kiss in Budapest.
- Design Team: Hungarian Fashion and Design Agency’s creative team
- Curator: Éva Olasz
- Supporting Body: Hungarian Fashion and Design Agency
State of Indigo
STATE OF INDIGO ILLUMINATED THE DARK HISTORY OF INDIGO FARMING, A PROCESS THAT WAS EMOTIONALLY ENTWINED WITH BOTH THE COUNTRY’S PRESENT AND THE TYRANNY OF ITS COLONIAL PAST.
The Indian pavilion explored the emotional charge of indigo, a natural colour created from the indigofera plant, which has become synonymous with India’s identity. “This rare and refulgent pigment was used to dye fabric, repel insects, treat ailments, disinfect, ward off spirits and even to decorate an entire city,” said curator Priya Khanchandani. But it also became inextricably linked with colonial trade and slavery. “It was once said that no indigo box dispatched to England was without a smear of blood,” she added. The use of indigo has hence become a symbol of India’s emotional plight, representing “a process of catharsis for a nation whose invisible histories are being unravelled”.
The installation took visitors to the labour intensive setting of the indigo farms where workers are forced to make natural indigo dye. A set of projected images virtually placed visitors in the trough where indigo leaves were crushed during the process of creating dye. Contemporary objects imbued with indigo’s sensuality extended its visual presence. Sounds amplified the questions of labour and mechanisation, and the diffused smell of indigo – earthy and pungent – enhanced the visceral earthiness of the space. “Witnessing the farmers’ rhythmic, mechanical movements, immersed in a cacophony of indigo, will make visitors complicit in their plight,” said Feroz Gujral, artistic director of the Gujral Foundation.
Although it takes its cue from the past, the Indian pavilion reached out to the present. Indigo has been democratised in the everyday, from its use in denim to the glow of television blue. “Indigo is the powerful and poignant pigment,” said Gujral “that has woven its way into the conscious relevance of India’s emotions, design, craft, consumption and national identity.”
- Administering Body: The Gujral Foundation
- Designers: Hanut Ewari, Feroze Gujral, Shaunak Mehboobani and Aparna Konat
- Curator: Priya Khanchandani
Circular forms, traditional textiles and ancient mythology wove together a sense of modern India in Chakraview. "India's utopias articulate the intersections between ancient myth and modern design", said curator Rajshree Pathy. "Like the seven chakras, our visions of utopia are simultaneously spiritual and progressive." Pathy wanted mythology to work in dialogue with contemporary design developments; with leading scenographer Sumant Jayakrishnan, she explored the continuities between India's past and future, myth and reality. "Like More's Utopia," Pathy explained, "or installation is a narrative of India's diverse religious, social and political journeys and a constantly metamorphosing churn of all the above".
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: India Design Forum (IDF)
Designer: Sumant Jayakrishnan
Curator: Rajshree Pathy (Founder, IDF)
Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India; Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion – DIPP; Confederation of Indian Industry – CII; Aditya Birla Group
Freedome was inspired by a utopian enterprise from the middle of the 20th century: the 1955 Asian-African Conference, held in the Indonesian city of Bandung. Twenty-nine Asian and African countries attended this summit, representing one-and-a-half billion people, and agreed a ten-point declaration on the promotion of world peace and cooperation. The dome, made of coir and derived from the mandala, had at its peak a floating bowl, seemingly defying gravity. The bowl hovered over the dome to suggest an 'open satellite', an informational hub free of political standpoints and territorial boundaries. It represented the continuing search for the principles enshrined in the Bandung Charter: independence, equality, humanity and peace.
Administering Body: Indonesia Agency for Creative Economy
Design Team: Adi Purnomo, Irwan Ahmett, Bagus Pandega
Curators: Danny Wicaksono, Diana Nazir, Hafiz Rancajale, Hermawan Tanzil
EXPOSED NERVES TURNED THE CREATIVE SPACE INTO A RAPID-RESPONSE DESIGN STUDIO, WHERE THE PROCESS WAS ISSUE-LED, EMOTIONALLY CHARGED, AND ALWAYS CHANGING.
Rather than bring an installation or pre-planned exhibition to London Design Biennale, Israel presented the act of designing itself. Exposed Nerves was a multidisciplinary rapid response design studio whose reflective design routine highlights identity, cultural and social issues. The studio featured four creators at any given time, with the creative process as well as the discussions, sketches, and conclusions all on display to the public. “The installation puts both the creators and the audience in an ever-changing emotional state because of the fragility and the delicacy of the meeting point,” said curator Hila Shaltieli.
“Everyday life in Israel is tough and hectic,” she added. “The daily routine is characterised by a lack of security, both mental and physical. There are ongoing emotional and deeply rooted political, ideological, and theological disagreements and controversies between the various groups comprising Israeli society. All of these crash into the daily routine and shake it to its core.”
This is the context in which Israeli designers created – “from the ability to work fast, to improvise, and to jump from one thing to another all the way to skipping the details and leaving work sometimes unfinished.” It therefore seemed natural to bring an evolving exhibition rather than a pre-meditated one. “We asked to bring the live centre of design-making to the Biennale – because this morning’s results might be irrelevant by lunchtime.”
- Administering Bodies: Shenkar. Engineering. Design. Art., The Israel Museum - Jerusalem
- Design team: Asaf Hanuka, Nelly Agassi, Philip Thomanek, Nadav Barkan, Gali Cnaani, Dekel Bobrov, Pini Leibovich, David Amar, Danielle Weinberg, Maya Arazi, Rami Tareef, Alon Meron
- Curators: Hila Shaltieli, Galit Gaon, Sharon Weiser-Ferguson, Nurith Goshen, Neta Konforti
- Supporting bodies: Embassy of The State of Israel to The United Kingdom, CBH | Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, Stylus Media Group, Ariella and Dan Moskovich, Tollman’s Tel-Aviv, Friends of the Israel Museum - Jerusalem
With two socially focused projects, Israel's Human.Touch showed how design can address social needs and impact positively on society. Yaniv Kadosh's AIDrop was a first-aid distribution system that employed self-rotating units to drop 3kg cartons of supplies over disaster zones, serving wide and potentially remote places until further essentials can be delivered by road. Sharona Merlin's Louder was a pair of speakers for the deaf and hard of hearing that translated sounds into visual textures and floor vibrations that can be felt through the feet. Israel's exhibition looked to design as a strategic tool to help resolve the complex challenges of our economy and society.
Administering Body: ACT Shenkar; Shenkar Engineering. Design. Art
Design Team: Yaniv Kadosh, Sharona Merlin
Curators: Tami Warshavski, Hila Shaltieli
Supporting Bodies: Embassy of the State of Israel to the United Kingdom; Stylus Media Group; Adelis Foundation; Estate of Clemens Nathan; EL AL
Twenty Italian designers were asked to rethink the symbolic White Flag as a utopian emblem of global truce. The results were placed on the world map at the heart of the installation, but each day of the Biennale, one of the flags was removed and replaced by an object chosen or created by the designer. The intention was to instill a sense of urgency, even emergency, for the chosen places marked on the map. In the end there were only a landscape of objects, as an offertory brought about in a time of truce.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Triennale Design Museum
Design Team: Antonio Aricò; Associato Misto; Marco Campardo and Lorenzo Mason; Cristina Celestino; Matteo Cibic; CTRLZAK Studio; Francesco D'Abbraccio (Studio Frames); Folder; Alessandro Gnocchi; Francesca Lanzavecchia (Lanzavecchia + Wai); Lucia Massari; Giacomo Moor; Eugenia Morpurgo; Rio Grande (Lorenzo Cianchi, Natascia Fenoglio, Francesco Valtolina); Sovrappensiero Design Studio; Alessandro Stabile; Studio Gionata Gatto; Studio Zanellato/Bortotto; Gio Tirotto; 4P1B Design Studio
Curators: Silvana Annicchiarico, Giorgio Camuffo
Supporting Body: Ceramica Francesco De Maio (technical partner)
L’ARCHITETTURA DEGLI ALBERI
L’ARCHITETTURA DEGLI ALBERI WAS A 20-YEAR LABOUR OF LOVE BY THE ARCHITECTS CESARE LEONARDI AND FRANCA STAGI. IN THEIR BEAUTIFULLY DETAILED LINE DRAWINGS OF TREES, THEY MADE EXPLICIT THE LINK BETWEEN NATURE AND DESIGN.
The Italian installation explored the threads that connect humans to their natural environments, and how one architect’s awe in the face of nature led him to embark on an epic 20-year project to create a seminal design guide. While studying architecture in Florence in the early 1960s, Cesare Leonardi had been struck by the rich vegetation of the surrounding hills and the monumental trees in the city’s parks.
“I felt a greater attraction than I did for the forms of architecture,” he later recalled. He quickly realised that landscape designers had few resources detailing the structural elements that they used most in their work: trees. The books that existed were usually of a botanical nature, and of little use for design purposes.
In order to provide this missing tool, he and his studio partner Franca Stagi conducted a systematic 20-year study of trees, travelling the length and breadth of Italy, and eventually extending their research to other European countries and Central America. They photographed every exemplar that they believed to be representative of its species, before redrawing it at a 1:100 scale. Drawing was an interpretative process that rarely consisted of merely copying the photograph. The aim was always to summarise the characteristics of the tree – the size and shape of the trunk, the composition of the foliage. In the case of deciduous species, the tree was represented in two versions: with foliage and bare. Further illustrations showed the shadows of the trees over the course of a day and its colour over the changing seasons.
In 1982, Leonardi and Stagi finally published their labour of love. “L’Architettura degli Alberi” comprised 374 drawings of 211 species, and is still an indispensable aid for designers of parks and public spaces. Twenty-four of these drawings were presented by Triennale di Milano at London Design Biennale 2018.
- Administering Body: La Triennale di Milano
- Designers: Cesare Leonardi (Modena, 1935) and Franca Stagi (Modena, 1937-2008)
- Curators: Joseph Grima, La Triennale di Milano, Andrea Cavani, Giulio Orsini, Veronica Bastai, Archivio Architetto Cesare Leonardi, Modena
A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe
Yasuhiro Suzuki's installation, A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe, promised to change the way we look at everyday things. Suzuki likes to take a sideways look at everyday objects, a Japanese concept called 'mitate' or 'looking at one thing as if it were another'. His installation consisted of a large inflatable human figure, titled 'Napping Traveller', and acrylic suitcases that contain Suzuki's works inspired by everyday objects. "Although everything inside will be familiar to visitors, they can use these objects to look at things in a fresh way," Suzuki said. "When they leave the room, visitors' way of looking at the world will have changed."
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: The Japan Foundation
Design Team: Yasuhiro Suzuki (Artist); Noriko Kawakami (Curatorial Advisor); Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Motomi Kawakami, Kozo Fujimoto, Noriko Kawakami (Advisory Committee)
Supporting Bodies: WOW inc.; Mediaturge Inc.; ROCKET Project (Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo)
London Design Biennale 2018 Best Design Medal
Matter to Matter
BY INVITING VISITORS TO LEAVE FLEETING MESSAGES IN A WALL OF CONDENSATION, MATTER TO MATTER EXPLORED THE TRANSIENCE OF EMOTIONS AND THE WAYS IN WHICH NATURE RECLAIMS THE MARKS WE LEAVE ON IT.
In Matter to Matter, Arthur Analts of Variant Studio was inspired by his native city of Riga and its surrounding forests – which cover more than half of the country. Due to its proximity to the Baltic Sea, Riga has its own unique climate, with a constant humidity that often leads to condensation. Analts recreated this using a large green-glazed surface as an interactive platform for the transition of matter to matter: gas to liquid.
Each visitor was encouraged to leave a message in the glass – an expression of emotion that will disappear within minutes. It was a statement about culture and transience, and the ways in which nature can cover over human traces. “It will show the existence of nature in our daily lives and hopefully make us re-evaluate the importance of it,” said Analts. The installation was a serene, meditative space; a scent of Latvian nature, redolent of the country’s sprawling forests, and a large bench made from the typical trees that grow in Latvia added sensory elements to the continuous glass wall. At the same time, the apparent simplicity of the design concealed a sophisticated technological solution, reflecting a new, entrepreneurial generation of Latvians who combine respect for nature with a curiosity for technology. “With the rapid development of modern technologies in Riga,” said Analts, “it is important to be aware of our impact on the natural environment, which is essential to Latvian culture.”
- Administering Body: Latvian National Museum of Art, Decorative Arts and Design Museum
- Design Team: Arthur Analts (Variant Studio)
- Curator: Arthur Analts (Variant Studio), Inese Baranovska (Decorative Arts and Design Museum)
- Supporting Bodies: Latvia 100, The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA), Embassy of Latvia to United Kingdom
Mezzing In Lebanon
Mezzing In Lebanon brought a slice of Beirut street life to the centre of London, celebrating utopia through the everyday designs of the people of Lebanon. The installation brought a bustling scene of falafel and coffee stalls, a small lounge cinema, street signs, carts, and even an authentic barber shop to Somerset House. As visitors sit, eat, drink, smoke and talk, they were transported to the streets of Beirut. Architect Annabel Karim Kassar found glimpses of utopia in the bricolage of Beirut's raw, functional and authentic urban interventions, and the diverse ways in which people occupy social space.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Bodies: Annabel Karim Kassar RIBA; AKK Architects Ltd; Embassy of Lebanon, London
Design Team: Annabel Karim Kassar, Rabih Zeidan, Violaine Jeantet, Maria Buontempo, Nehmat Alameh, Marie Robin, Christophe Hascoët, Isabelle Rolland, Alain Pin, Mustapha Hijazi, Maxwell Sterry
Curator: Annabel Karim Kassar RIBA
Supporting Bodies: Mourad Mazouz (Beyrouti Cafe by Momo at the Souks);AMAR Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (sponsor); Makers: Georges Mohasseb, Rana Salam, Zawarib, Blatt Chaya, Henri Ghosn, Amer El Lahibi; &PR; Ich&Kar; Antonio Cesare ladarola; Francesca Cantien; Serge Akl, OT Liban (sponsor); MEA (sponsor); MCA Communication; The Ministry of Culture of Lebanon
The Silent Room
THE SILENT ROOM WAS AN URBAN INTERVENTION THAT PROPOSED PUBLIC SHELTERS WHERE CITIZENS COULD FREELY REST, INSULATED FROM THE NOISES OF THE CITY AND OTHER SENSORIAL AGGRESSIONS.
“Silence is becoming a commodity for the privileged,” said designer Nathalie Harb. To live in an urban environment is to be subject to a torrent of information and distraction, while public space is disappearing in a relentless wave of privatisation. The Silent Room responded to this context, providing a cocoon-like space isolated from the city’s noise. “It offers the luxury of silence to everyone, regardless of background or status. It redresses the sonic inequity within the contemporary urban landscape.”
Visitors entered a perforated brick and timber tower and ascended a staircase to the wooden upper level, which housed the Silent Room. The light inside was very dim, providing the absolute minimum of visual information: “It’s not a space that’s designed to be seen, so much as sensed,” said Nathalie Harb. The walls and floor were lined with fabric, which is also in a very subdued tone. Eight speakers gently broadcasted a field recording of the city at its quietest moments. This was all that the visitor would see and hear. “I hope that it’ll give the visitor a different way of thinking about the urban environment, of understanding it in terms of noise and silence, over-stimulation and peace: that you’ll come away from it with an increased awareness of the soundscape around you and its effects.”
The Silent Room was inspired by Nathalie Harb’s home city of Beirut. “It came out of the very particular soundscape of that city, which is itself a product of the fact that physical space is so limited there. Sounds are very close to you, and short and sharp – it’s a hugely saturated environment.” The Silent Room, on the other hand, was a place of absence.
- Designer: Nathalie Harb
- Design Team: In collaboration with BÜF architecture and 21dB
- Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Culture, Beirut design week, Bespoke Brick, Bute Fabrics, Mason Navarro Pledge, Opsis Design, La Paloma
Just / Unjust
LEEDS: JUST/UNJUST WAS AN ABSTRACT AND SURREAL PERFORMANCE PIECE INSPIRED BY FOLKLORE, WITCHCRAFT AND AN ELIZABETHAN WOOD CARVING ENTITLED DANCE OF DEATH.
Matty Bovan curated and art directed Leeds' installation, working closely with artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach on the concept. The installation was inspired by a carved wooden chimney piece depicting the “Dance of Death” in the Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house in Yorkshire. Titled Just/Unjust, it took its name from the grouped figures standing on either side of the skeleton at the centre of the chimney piece: the Just, who are about to be received by angels, and the Unjust, who are about to be claimed by the devil. It was both unsettling and dramatic: an evocation of heightened emotional extremes.
Visitors were confronted with a highly charged live tableau, comprising video projections, live performance and sculpture, created by fashion designer Matty Bovan and artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach. Bovan designed bespoke garments for the project, which were worn by the performers and also displayed on skeleton-like scarecrow sculptures formed from salvaged wood and found objects. Further found materials and other forms handmade by the artists alluded to the carving’s symbols of earthly vanity – crowns, gold, money – and were stomped on and destroyed during the performances. Examples of these damaged objectswere presented in perspex cases on makeshift cabinets as enshrined relics from another time and world.
The aesthetic of the installation was inspired by British folklore, witchcraft and Aesop’s fables. The filmed acts of frenzied destruction, performed by Bovan, Leech and Mullen, were projected on three large fabric screens strung up with parachute cords.
- Designers: Matty Bovan, Rory Mullen and Adam Leach
- Sponsors: Leeds 2023, Leeds Beckett University
The Dynamic Universe
THE DYNAMIC UNIVERSE CONFRONTED THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN WITH CUTTING-EDGE SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, PROJECTING IMAGES FROM ONE OF THE MOST SOPHISTICATED TELESCOPES IN THE WORLD DIRECTLY INTO SOMERSET HOUSE.
The sheer scale of the universe can often provoke a sense of unease or fear of the unknown, as we struggle to grasp the fundamental nature of the cosmos. Similarly, the rise of autonomous technologies forces us to question our place in the world, and prompts the disquieting thought that we may soon be superseded. Liverpool’s installation offered an alternative to such existential anxieties, showing how we can mitigate fear with knowledge, and replace unease with awe and wonder.
The Liverpool Telescope is one of the largest fully robotic telescopes in the world. Based in La Palma in the Canary Islands, it observes autonomously – which means it decides what it’s going to look at next. For London Design Biennale, the night sky of La Palma was beamed into Somerset House, with large-scale projections and time-lapse views of nebulae and galaxies. Bean bags were placed on the floor so that visitors relaxed, allowing themselves to be drawn into the infinite depths of the cosmos. “The universe is a complex, ever-changing place,” said Professor Andrew Newsam from Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool. “But by bringing together advanced mechanical and optical design, autonomous robotics, and digital communications, a new generation of astronomical instruments are allowing astronomers to explore those changes in unprecedented detail.”
The aim was not to diminish our emotional responses to the immensity of the universe, Professor Newsam added, but to celebrate them. “It is tempting to look at cutting-edge scientific instruments as divorced from emotional context and driven entirely by hard technological necessities. However, the urge to build such instruments and discover more about the universe around us has a deeply emotional seed.”
- Administering Body: Liverpool John Moores University
- Design Team: Professor Nigel Weatherill, Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma’a, Professor Andrew Newsam
- Curator: Professor Andrew Newsam
Fernando Romero's Border City presented a vision for a bi-national city on one of the world's most important borders, that of the United States and Mexico, whose boundary states are now home to over 100 million people. The concept was rooted in the long history of places where frontiers meet, cities where cultures both clash and blend. This integrated masterplan was conducive to both sides of the border, drawing upon industrial, employment and trade opportunities, while recognising shortcomings in urban planning. Romero's urban prototype, with a hexagonal plan, offered a new model for cities as populations grow, migration increases, and economies continue to globalise.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Embassy of Mexico in the United Kingdom
Design Team: FR-EE | Fernando Romero EnterprisE; Pentagram; BuroHappold
Supporting Bodies: Secretaría de Cultura-México (Mexican Secretary of State for Culture); Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID); Embassy of Mexico in the United Kingdom; Shell México; HSBC México
THE MONGOLIAN INSTALLATION TRACED THE CIRCLE OF CASHMERE PRODUCTION ACROSS ALL THE ENTITIES AND LIVES IT TOUCHES, DRAWING A SENSORY CONNECTION FROM DESIGNED CASHMERE PRODUCTS THROUGH TO THE MOUNTAIN GOATS AND THE NOMADS THAT REAR THEM.
TOIROG is the Mongolian word for circle, within which there is a rich emotional story to be told. From the tough, nomadic lifestyle of the goat herders, to the fine skill of the craftspeople who transform raw cashmere into design pieces, the installation demonstrated this cyclical concept of cashmere and the lives involved in its production.
“Visitors are encouraged to touch and feel the cashmere cloud, evoking a sense of serenity, like that felt from a close relationship with the land” said the designers, drawing on a sensory connection with many aspects of Mongolian life through one of its most treasured materials. “The installation will hopefully give visitors the sense that a cashmere garment links the wearer with a great number of lives, from contented goats roaming the mountains of Mongolia, to the devotion of the world's last remaining nomadic cultures, to the joy of the designers and craftspeople.”
The Mongolian installation aimed to support the vision of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, that all cashmere is produced in an environmentally friendly way that safeguards the livelihoods of herding communities and protects the important, fragile environment in which they live.
- Design Team: OYUNA
- Designers: Oyuna Tserendorj (Creative Director) with support from Chloe Moles (Studio Manager)
- Curator: Oyuna Tserendorj
- Supporting Body: The Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA)
Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment
Considering the archive as utopian, Studio Makkink & Bey presented Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment, a narrative installation of objects, products and memorabilia drawn from the home of architect Rianne Makkink and designer Jurgen Bey. This autobiographical representation was exhibited as a blue foam diorama, accompanied by a digital archive in which the Dutch design studio elaborated on the narrative power of objects and indexed their relations to the world. The display explored how designers curated and kept their own archives, but also asked questions about how institutions collect history.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Het Nieuwe Instituut
Design Team: Studio Makkink & Bey
Curators: Studio Makkink & Bey
Supporting Bodies: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in London; Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Nigeria wastes billions of pounds worth of gas in flaring, burnt off as a byproduct of collecting oil, causing terrible pollution and health issues. With Ụlọ, which translates as 'home', the Nigerian team looked at how to restore environmental balance to the fragile Niger Delta. The installation, a contemporary take on a typical home in the region, was raised on stilts elevated above an oil trough, suggesting a utopian future where oil was perceived in alternate ramifications. Other exhibits included objects made from recycled petroleum products, an interactive light installation about gas flares, and a survival raincoat designed to deal with flash floods.
Design Team: Gozi Ochonogor, Shola Orekoya, Folakunle Oshun
Curator: Gozi Ochonogor
Supporting Bodies: ArtHouse Foundation; Aspire Microfinance Bank; Ford Foundation; John Obayuwana; U.Mi-1;Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation; Contributors: Portfolio Architecture; Charley Brentnall; Ifigeneia Dilaveraki; Jack Hawker; MitiMeth; Studio Seventi; Bini Struct-e
Learning and play for all, through inclusive design and technology
LEARNING AND PLAY FOR ALL SHOWED HOW ROBOTS AND VIRTUAL GAMING CAN BE TOOLS OF INCLUSIVE DESIGN, TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF STUDENTS WHO ARE TOO ILL TO GO TO SCHOOL.
In 2009, the Norwegian government set the ambitious vision of making the country inclusively designed by 2025. “By putting people’s functional, personal and emotional needs at the centre of the design process, it can lead to creative and novel solutions that improve life,” said curator Onny Eikhaug. Learning and Play For All showed how such an approach can be applied to robotic and virtual gaming technology.
Visitors entered an interactive classroom set up with four student desks and a sick child’s bedroom, showcasing two groundbreaking Norwegian startups: Kahoot! and No Isolation. The AV1 by No Isolation is a telepresence robot that gives children and young adults suffering from long-term illness the chance to attend school and maintain their social life. A simple head-like form sat on a vacated classroom desk and becomes the eyes and ears of the sick child at home in bed. The child could see and hear the teacher and the rotating head offered a 360-degree view of the class, flashing blue when the child wanted to ask a question.
Three of the desks in the classroom were supplied with a tablet connected to Kahoot! and the third desk is equipped with the AV1. Kahoot! is a gaming platform that allows teachers and students to create games (known as kahoots) and share them either in the class or across the internet. Again, it brings people together inside and outside the classroom, said Eikhaug, creating emotional engagement and a sense of belonging. “These products communicate the value of empathy within technology and emotion within the digital realm.”
- Administering Body: Design and Architecture Norway (DOGA)
- Design Team: Benny Lund, Victoria Høisæther, Onny Eikhaug
- Curator: Onny Eikhaug
- Supporting Body: Royal Norwegian Embassy in London
Reaching for Utopia—Inclusive Design in Practice
Reaching for Utopia—Inclusive Design in Practice was an ensemble of projects that demonstrated how Norway's people-centred approach to design and architecture permeates life, business and society. The projects were picked from the public sector, across a wide range of disciplines. These included St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, the Bergen Light Rail project and Bergen University College. Together, they demonstrated design's capability to distil a greater political ideal into real environments that improve daily lives in Norway. An ambitious government action plan to make Norway 'inclusively designed' by 2025 is under way, with examples of accessible design leading the way.
Administering Body: Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture
Design Team: Victoria Høisæther, Linda Falang (Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture)
Curator: Onny Eikhaug (Programme Leader — Design for All, Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture)
Supporting Body: Royal Norwegian Embassy, London
Pakistan's installation, Daalaan, was a collaboratively designed abstract 'playground' that broke down social barriers and invited interaction between strangers. Taking the simplicities of our childhoods as a reference, the Pakistani team created a playroom 'where imagination has no bounds', to encourage people to meet through play and transported them back to a time when they were unhindered by adult anxieties. They hoped their playful installation - which featured sheesham wood objects, Lattoo Stools (spinning tops), hand-drawn artworks and screen prints made using natural henna dyes - encouraged people to converse and share ideas with open minds.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Coalesce Design Studio
Design Team: Salman Jawed, Ali S Hussain, Faiza Adamjee, Hina Fancy,Zaid Hameed, Mustafa Mehdi
Curators: Coalesce Design Studio; Salman Jawed
Supporting Bodies: Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture; Coalesce Design Studio
- Administering Body: Wagging Tongues Productions
- Designers: Mariam Majid, Mehrbano Khattak, Ahmed Nasir
- Curator: Abid Majid
- Partners: Sikandar M Khan, Kaarvan Craft Foundation, Red Line Collection, Suniya Qureshi
- Supporting Bodies: British Asian Trust, Nishat Group, Sapphire, Guard Group, Rang Rasiya, Babar Ali Foundation, TDAP
Developed by Panasonic Design to influence behavioural patterns, Kasa was an experiential exploration into the future relationship between people and objects.
A symbol of the craftsmanship of Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan and new home to Panasonic Design, Kasa reacted to the behaviour of the user, with the object descending into darkness when approached or handled aggressively. Through reinforcing positive actions and discouraging negative ones, Panasonic Design hoped to promote a transition towards a new relationship between people and objects, whereby the latter are treasured and handled with care and the former are inspired with feelings of calm and happiness.
This is part of a wider vision to enrich lives and improve peoples’ wellbeing through technology. Kasa was part of a collection of objects created by Panasonic’s co-creation project, Kyoto KADEN Lab, to gain a deeper understanding of the manufacturing industry’s origins and subsequently develop new categories of design.
- Curator: Takehiro Ikeda, Creative Director, Panasonic Design
- Design Team: Panasonic Design
- Supporting Body: Panasonic Kyoto KADEN Lab.
Cadavre Exquis: an Anatomy of Utopia
Cadavre Exquis: an Anatomy of Utopia, a spatial version of the Surrealist game, playfully invited visitors to arrive at your own utopia through a series of decisive moves. The Polish team — designer Maria Jeglinska and art historian and critic Klara Czerniewska—were more fascinated by the imaginary journey that led to Thomas More's island than the destination itself. To this end, Jeglinska and Czerniewska devised a site-specific spatial game of Cadavre Exquis (or "Exquisite Corpse"), in which visitors constructed their own ideas of utopia (or dystopia) by navigating various questions and making subsequent moves.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Culture.pl
Design Team: Maria Jeglinska (designer); Krzysztof Pyda (visual identity); Kaja Kusztra (epilogue); Paweł Andryszczyk (sound)
Curators: Klara Czerniewska, Maria Jeglinska
London Design Biennale 2018 Medal: Honorable Mention
A Matter of Things
A MATTER OF THINGS PRESENTED TEN EVERYDAY ITEMS, FROM A CAMP BED TO A MANHOLE COVER, AND EXPLORED WHY THEY RESONATE SO STRONGLY IN THE POLISH PSYCHE.
Poland’s installation displayed objects that appeared meaningless but were loaded with emotional weight. “Sometimes they gain significance almost by accident, by their supporting role in an event or phenomenon,” explained curator Małgorzata Wesołowska.
Ten objects were selected that were strongly connected to emotionally charged events in recent Polish history. They ranged from a man hole, a symbol of the Warsaw Uprising, during which the sewer network was vital for moving Resistance troops and equipment – to a camp bed, which as a makeshift shop counter came to embody the black market boom of the 1990s. “The items chosen resonate strongly with the Polish psyche, but as emblems, not necessarily obviously or rationally linked to the events they accompanied,” said Wesołowska. “The installation tells international viewers why these everyday items arouse strong feelings and explains their association with collective Polish euphoria, joy, anger or despair.” Each object was presented as a generic model, given the status of a cultural symbol. They were reminiscent of prototypes awaiting the final touches, such as texture, material and colour. Moodboards put these objects into historical context, combining comicbook-style drawings, archival photographs and stills from films.
The curator hoped the exhibit would spark interest in Polish history and the ways in which we use emotions, stories and objects to illustrate these events. “I hope that visitors will understand how our cultural and economic perspectives affect the way we perceive things,” said Wesołowska. “Today, in an era of intercontinental migration, it is still – and perhaps increasingly – necessary to decrypt the meaning of things in order to be familiar with the cultural codes of a given community or nation.”
- Administering Body: The Adam Mickiewicz Institute
- Designers: (Exhibition and Object Design) Szpunar Studio, Noodi Design, (Illustrations and Graphic Design) Michał Loba
- Curator: Małgorzata Wesołowska
In UN/BIASED the Portuguese design team merge design and science, using bacteria to visualise data streams pertaining to an opaque, yet eroding factor in Portuguese society: sexism. The installation is comprised of four maps that contrast gender gaps in areas such as wages and higher education. Two maps are computer-generated, animated visualisations that extrapolate a dystopian future based on ongoing downward spiral trends. The other two maps use biological elements (plants, viruses, and bacteria) to represent an invigorated utopian nation, characterised by progressive socio-economic indicators. Utopia is conveyed by the equalitarian map landscapes and the use of natural elements as instruments for data visualisation.
Administering Body: Cultivamos Cultura
Design Team: Marta de Menezes, Pedro Miguel Cruz
Curator: Manuel Lima
Supporting Bodies: Embassy of Portugal in the United Kingdom; República Portuguesa/Cultura; Direção-Geral das Artes; IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência; Paula Duque (Plant Molecular Biology Lab); Isabel Gordo (Evolutionary Biology Lab); Joana Gonçalves Sá (Science and Policy Lab); Ana Mena (Outreach Department); Dr. Simon Park (Department of Microbial Sciences, University of Surrey)
What's your proposition?
Like all good stories, this one started with a revolutionary idea, which was immediately met with a question: What exactly are you proposing?
Tipping the hat to nostalgia, modern innovation was reflected in the dazzle design on the company’s installation to be located in the Edmond J. Safra courtyard at Somerset House. Dazzle was first conceived of by Norman Wilkinson for early 20th century Naval vessels, featuring a specific geometric pattern that confused rather than concealed. These original dazzle-camouflaged Royal Naval vessels were created at the historic South Yard site, in Plymouth – the very same site where Princess created its award-winning superyachts today.
The bold camouflage for the installation was created by Katie Sheppard (Plymouth College of Art), who was one of twenty students enrolled in the BA Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern course competing to design a new version of dazzle for Princess. The design was utilised to bring to life the most provocative and cutting edge proposal from Princess Yachts to date - the R35. Partnering with BAR Technologies (the talent behind the British America’s Cup challengers) and iconic design firm Pininfarina, the fully-carbon-fibre R35 boasts the very latest in advanced technologies and naval architecture, while still remaining a true Princess at heart.
For Princess, the R Class is a revolution, a seismic shift from where the company has started to where it is today. The Princess Dazzle installation expressed the exhilarating journey through the design and manufacturing story, and will pose the question: What’s your proposition?
- Overall Direction: Princess Yachts, Plymouth College of Art
- Exhibit & Installation: EXTREME Group
- Film Production: Craft Films London
Soft Identity Makers
SOFT IDENTITY MAKERS CONFRONTED THE POLITICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY CHARGED CONCEPT OF NATIONALITY, CONSTRUCTING NEW IDENTITIES FOR VISITORS THAT DEFIED GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES.
“State” is a word loaded with emotional significance in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the USA where inhabitants can call themselves American citizens but have no voting rights. For some, “state” represents the ideal of full annexation to the USA; to others, it expresses a yearning for independence and the fight against an imperialist master. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left much of the island in ruins, these questions of identity have become more pressing: what do “state” and “nation” mean when you are forced to be a refugee in your own country?
The Puerto Rico Pavillion was a timely exploration of these ideas of nation and identity, and the symbols that represent us. “How many times have you felt that your shield, flag, or passport isn’t representative of your identity? How can we define a contemporary national identity?”, asked Miguel Miranda and Celina Nogueras of Muuaaa. “Even though these symbols are rigid, our identities need to be malleable; they are soft.”
Muuaaa’s interactive installation generated new “national” identities for visitors, no matter where they are from. A “Marker Wall” showed 45 images, encompassing such elements as climates, sounds, flavours, attitudes, styles, colours and textures. Visitors chose up to five “markers” that they felt represent their identity. Then through a specially designed algorithm, the user received a unique identity. The identity-making process took place at specially designed island-shaped counters, a subversion of the often-intimidating experience of going through customs and security checks at airports. In contrast, Muuaaa said, “visitors will experience our process as one of inclusion, interaction, sympathy and kinsmanship”.
- Design Team: Muuaaa Design Studio
- Designers: Miguel Miranda Montes (Chief Design Officer), Celina Nogueras Cuevas (Chief Creative Strategist), César del Valle, William Hrncir , Camelia Rojas , Verónica Rosado with the support of: Jonathan González, Bianca Montoya , Rocío Nájeraurriola
- Supporting Bodies: Destilería Serrallés, Cervecera de Puerto Rico , Humberto Vidal , Café Alto Grande, EDP University
- Partners: International Printing
The State of You
SCENTED SMOKE BROUGHT VISITORS’ MEMORIES RUSHING BACK IN THE STATE OF YOU, AISHA NASSER AL-SOWAIDI’S REFLECTIVE PIECE EXAMINING HOW WE CLING TO THE PAST WHILE OUR CITIES HURTLE TOWARDS THE FUTURE.
Aisha Nasser Al-Sowaidi’s installation, The State of You, was inspired by the sense of nostalgia that pervades life in a city such as Doha, which is in a process of constant, rapid reinvention. Swathes of the Qatari capital’s urban fabric have been erased and remade in the past decade as the population has grown threefold. “The installation is about how a city can change and the idea of ‘home’,” Al-Sowaidi said. “How much change can a familiar place take and still be familiar? How quickly do those changes become familiar themselves?” Visitors were invited to place their heads beneath seven dome-like “worlds”, each of which released a different scented smoke. The domes were lined with a patterned ceramic, evoking traditional Qatari architecture, but the outer shell was made from concrete, the dominant material used in Doha’s redevelopment.
The concrete also stood in contrast to the floating scents that it enveloped. “These two elements represent the past and the present: the non-physical past as smoke, and the physical ‘now’ as concrete,” said Al-Sowaidi. The smells were intended to create a unique experience for each visitor. “Feelings are universal – it’s the one language we all share – but different scents can inspire different feelings for every individual.”
- Designer: Aisha Nasser Al-Sowaidi
- Supporting body: Qatar Museums
Inspiration through Creation
A TEMPORARY SHELTER AND OBJECTS DESIGNED BY DISPLACED PEOPLE TOLD A STORY OF SURVIVAL THROUGH CREATIVITY.
The Refugees’ Pavilion told the stories of refugees through objects that they have designed, and one groundbreaking design that has been created to help them and their families. As designers around the world are asked to solve refugees’ problems, Inspiration Through Creation acknowledged the difficulties in overcoming them, such as the fact that houses in refugee camps have to be temporary by design, even if the camps themselves are anything but – some have been around for decades.
In Kenya, for example, Kakuma refugee camp is now the seventh largest town in the country, with a thriving economy that hosts a range of sectors, including designers and creatives. The pavilion was housed within the Better Shelter, winner of the Design Museum’s Design of the Year in 2016 – a structure that unpacks from two cardboard boxes and can be assembled with only a hammer, by four people in just a few hours. As visitors stepped inside the shelter, they saw examples of how different families across the world’s refugee camps transform it from a flatpacked house into a home of their own.
Visitors were then guided towards objects designed by women and girls in programmes run by RefuSHE, an NGO that empowers young refugee women in East Africa using a holistic approach that helps them to access their human rights, experience economic success and skill development, and become leaders in their own communities. Visitors were able to sit in an armchair and hear audio in which a woman helped by RefuSHE told an inspiring story about her journey from survival to creation.
- Administering Body: Nairobi Design Week
- Designers: Adrian Jankowiak (Afrika Design), Yara Said (Salwa Foundation)
- Curator: Heidi McKinnon (Curators without Borders)
- Supporting Bodies: Better Shelter Foundation, RefuSHE, Sandstorm Kenya, Curators without Borders, IKEA Foundation, Rapid 9 Signs, Vidan Lawnes
Republic of Korea
An international team blended East, West, ancient and modern with Peach Blossom, a digital map that explored virtual reality and co-created by adding utopian thoughts. The starting point for the Republic of Korea's installation was Ahn Gyeon's 1447 drawing Mong Yu Do Won Do (Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land). Ahn Gyeon's ideal vista - of a serene orchard surrounded by craggy mountains - was digitally transformed into an interactive map that could manipulate physical gestures, zooming in and navigating through different levels of abstractions.
Be a part of building Korea's interactive map by sharing what you think Utopia is! Share on www.mongyudowondo.com
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Korean Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP)
Design Team: Austin S. Lee, Goo-Ryong Kang, Jaewon Seok, Sungjoon Steve Won, Kiheon Shin, Jeeyeon Ha, Jae-Hyouk Sung
Curator: Jae-Hyouk Sung
Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design
Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design offers a glimpse into an idealised world created by Soviet designers that, for the most part, never left the space of their workshops. In the Soviet Union, designers developed daring projects that were inspired by 'utopian' visions of the future. The Russian installation, presented as a rediscovered archive, tells the story of the forgotten projects created at the All-Union Soviet Institute of Technical Aesthetics (VNIITE) and Soviet Design Studios (SHKB) between the 1960s and 1980s. The institute brought together designers, sociologists, philosophers, cultural and art historians, working at the forefront of design theory and research.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Moscow Design Museum
Design Team: Stepan Lukyanov (designer); Olga Druzhinina, Natalia Goldchteine, Ekaterina Shapkina (administrators)
Curator: Alexandra Sankova
Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation; ROSTEC Corporation; United Engine Corporation; TASS Russian News Agency; The Art Newspaper Russia; Russia Beyond the Headlines
Water Machine is a giant gumball machine, of the kind familiar from newsagents and corner shops, which will distribute globes of water if you insert the right money. Water is an increasingly scarce resource the world over, but there are few places that this fact is felt as keenly as Saudi Arabia. Primarily desert, the country relies on desalinisation plants to reclaim fresh water from the sea, an expensive and energy-hungry process. Sisters Noura and Basma Bouzo have drawn on this situation in their installation to highlight the need for a global structural change towards sustainable use of resources.
Administering Body: Saudi Design Week
Design Team: Basma Bouzo, Noura Bouzo
Curators: Basma Bouzo, Noura Bouzo
Supporting Bodies: Alf Khair; Baraboux; Saudi British Society; Oasis Magazine
Being and Existence
LULWAH AL HOMOUD’S INTRICATE GEOMETRIC PATTERNS FOR BEING AND EXISTENCE WERE BASED ON THE ARABIC ALPHABET, USING THE FORMS OF LANGUAGE TO COMMUNICATE A POSITIVE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE.
Saudi Arabia’s installation, Being and Existence, explored the relationship between language and our emotional state, and in particular the effect of different forms of language on the messages we communicate. Artist Lulwah Al Homoud developed an abstract form of language, evolved from the Arabic alphabet and taking the form of a geometric pattern – an intricate, symmetrical web of fine lines and symbols. This graphic work stemmed from her research into Arabic calligraphy and Islamic geometry, which she undertook as part of her MA from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design – the first Saudi to achieve this distinction. Al Homoud explored the rhythmic “codes” and symmetries of the Arabic alphabet and then used these as the basis for geometrical designs. The process combined the mathematical and the emotional, the realms of logic and language.
Visitors entered a darkened room with animated geometric patterns on each wall. These were intended to convey the sense of a prelapsarian, universal language – a means of communication understood by all. A series of mirrors drew the visitors and patterns together as part of the installation, creating a connection that, Al Homoud hoped, instilled a sense of serenity and tranquillity. “Language can spread love, anger, grief and peace,” she said. “I chose a language that speaks to the soul to create a peaceful experience. This piece of design is an attempt to unite us in an abstract way.”
- Designer: Lulwah Al Homoud
- Supporting Body: King Abdulaziz Centre, Saudi Arabia
THE SOMALI CIVIL WAR LEFT ITS RICH ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE IN RUINS. WHAT REMAINS CELEBRATED THESE REMNANTS OF THE COUNTRY’S PAST AND OFFERED THE HOPE THAT THEY CAN BE THE FOUNDATIONS OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE.
What remains when the war ends? Ruins preserve histories that are often forgotten. In the face of conflict and destruction, ruins are proof that there was something before the wreckage, and before the painful emotions that they evoke. Not all ruins are the same; some buildings remain standing despite attempts to turn them into rubble. They are manifestations of people’s indestructible hope, resilience and survival. Somalia’s exhibition traced the history of Somali architecture before and after the civil war, from its pre-colonial heritage to its manifestations under British and Italian rule, through to the post-independence socialist modernism of the late 20th century. The exhibit also reflected on the impact of the civil war on this architectural heritage.
Visitors were guided through images and video projection that followed the devastation which not only transformed the physical landscape of the country but also carried with it unimaginable human costs. The main installation featured 3D models of Mogadishu’s most iconic buildings and monuments. As the capital city, Mogadishu is emblematic of both the architectural styles and the political struggles of the whole country. Visitors were immersed in a 360-degree experience showing how the country has radically changed in the last 30 years, and suggesting how what remains could act as the foundation for future reconstruction. The remnants of the past bear witness to people’s hope that Somalia will return to the vibrant country it once was.
- Curator: Somali Architecture
- Design team: Yusuf Shegow, Madina Scacchi, Iman Mohamed, Ahmed Mussa.
- Filming: RiyoFilms
- Supporting bodies: Premier Bank, Deeqa Construction and Water Well Drilling Co., Benadir Regional Administration.
Otium and Acedia
South Africa's installation, Otium and Acedia, celebrates liberation and playfulness as fitting statements of a country reborn from a convoluted, visceral history. Porky Hefer has designed a series of hanging nests in the form of animals, into which you can climb. The animals are fairly ferocious: aquatic predators such as the killer whale and the piranha whose gaping maws bristle with teeth. But Hefer's sub-aquatic utopia is also quirky and cheerful. For a country 'emerging' from its past struggles, a pervading sense of liberation and innocence takes on an emboldened meaning alongside the theme of utopia.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Southern Guild
Designer: Porky Hefer
Curators: Trevyn McGowan, Julian McGowan
VRPolis, Diving into the Future
With thousands of sensors that monitor things such as air pollution, noise and temperature, the smart city of Santander uses technology to improve urban life and the environment. Inspired by its success, VRPolis, Diving into the Future asks what a smart city could be capable of 100 years from now. An immersive 360-degree virtual-reality film imagines how medium-sized towns of the future could harness new technologies to make improvements in the fields of energy, mobility, connectivity, habitat, architecture, water and waste. This project shows prospective and possible sustainable futures based on emerging trends. It is a practical tool and could play an inspirational role for inventors and innovators.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
Design Team: Dimeloami Productions, María Levene
Curator: Maite Cantón
Supporting Bodies: Viesgo; Santander City Hall; Official College of Cantabrian Architects (COACAN); inMediaStudio; experience powered by HTC VIVE
COAL: POST-FUEL CONSIDERED AN ALTERNATIVE FUTURE FOR THE MATERIAL THAT POWERED THE INDUSTRIAL AGE, AND SHOWED THAT EVEN COAL HAS AN EMOTIONAL VALUE.
Coal is traditionally seen as a completely functional raw material; its value is derived solely from its own destruction. Jesper Eriksson’s installation considered whether this cheap and dirty fossil fuel has a more complex emotional significance – particularly in Britain – and whether it has an alternative future as a desirable material. “Problematic, glorious, scandalous, essential—coal has many facets to it,” Eriksson said. “It has sustained communities and enabled technological progress, all the while polluting and harming health of those who work it.”
Eriksson presented a speculative future for coal as an organic material for architecture and interior design. In this way, its image is transformed from a fuel that releases carbon dioxide to a material that encloses it. The installation contained flooring, furniture and other objects in solid coal – “Britain’s most iconic material”, as the designer put it. Some pieces were left in the material’s raw state, others were processed into a finish similar to black marble. By changing the material’s aesthetic, Eriksson opened a debate about our relationship to this utilitarian substance: ‘If the idea of coal as a building material is accepted, how and why does a coal mine differ from a marble quarry? Can we not begin to call the mine a coal quarry? This future narrative is intentionally problematic.”
Much of Eriksson’s work is concerned with challenging the conventional use of materials. “When processing them in novels ways, pushing them in new directions, there is always great uncertainty,” he said. But there is also possibility – even for an unloved, unfashionable, dirty substance such as coal.
- Designer: Jesper Eriksson
- Design Team: Shôta Sakami, Miriam Bröckel, Lia Forslund
- Curator: Jesper Eriksson
- Supporting Body: Embassy of Sweden
Welcome to Weden
Welcome to Weden rethinks design and manufacturing on collaborative, artisanal grounds. The name emphasises the 'we' in Sweden, and points towards a more inclusive future society - a 'wetopia'. The project promotes the strength of collaboration, inviting 15 designers and manufacturers to work together on different, more equal terms. The installation shows the result of these collaborations—design projects that point towards smaller-scale and non-hierarchical local production, with room for the artistic process. All parties share the rewards as well as the risks. It presents an intriguing counter-strategy to the existing model of unethical, far-flung, large-scale mass production.
Administering Body: The Embassy of Sweden, London
Design Team: Form/Design Center (Producer); Katja Pettersson (Exhibition Architecture); VarvVarv (Graphic Design)
Curator: Jenny Nordberg
Supporting Bodies: Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Swedish Arts Council; The Swedish Institute; Department of Culture, City of Malmö
In-between: The Utopia of the Neutral
Seven Swiss design studios have partnered with seven specialist industrial manufacturers, each with niche knowledge of a particular field, for In-between: The Utopia of the Neutral - a project that reflects upon cultural identity, design tradition and exchange of knowledge. It's an interpretation that draws on Switzerland's traditions of political neutrality and Swiss design history, and has led to experimental collaborations that demand 'speculation, fluidity and dialogue'. Against a perception of the neutral as the hidden, static or indifferent, the project imagines the 'in between' as a fundamental space to probe neutrality as a catalyst for movement.
Administering Bodies: Embassy of Switzerland in the United Kingdom; Pro Helvetia — The Swiss Arts Council
Design Team: Dimitri Baehler with Mouvement; Adrien Rovero; Joerg Boner; Sarah Kueng & Lovis Caputo; Stephanie Baechler; Sybille Stoeckli; Dominic Plueer & Olivier Smitt; Damian Fopp (installation design)
Curator: Giovanna Lisignoli
Supporting Bodies: Industrial partners of the different design collaborations; Presence Switzerland; Pro Helvetia
Body of Us
BODY OF US TURNED A MICROSCOPE ON THE HUMAN BODY TO REFLECT ON THE MEANING OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN A HYPERINDIVIDUALISTIC WORLD.
“Any room coalesces with the beings that are in it,” said Body of Us curator Rebekka Kiesewetter. “Bacteria from building materials and human bodies interreact and grow in an unforeseeable manner, and so create new relationships between body and space.” In Body of Us, this process was illustrated by a vast petri dish containing bacteria from the room and the people who visited it.
The installation, Kiesewetter said, invited visitors to question their own ways of building relationships. “The petri dish is a symbol, a way to show that we are intrinsically related to the beings and matter that surround us, and to rethink what constitutes us as human beings. It is a means to make visitors rethink their own relationships, and the motivations behind them.”
The work also invited visitors to reflect on the potential of new forms of social bond to lead to a more ethical, balanced society. “For us, friendship is a way to imagine a new horizon of living together,” said Kiesewetter. “Who are ‘we’ when we talk about ‘us’? We need to recognise that every ‘we’ generates exclusion, defining something as foreign or alien.” The designers proposed that we expand our search for friendly bonds –given the environmental challenges we face, perhaps even beyond humankind.
The micro-scale investigation of bodies and space was interwoven with an audio work that comprised a series of short poetic, scientific and essayistic excerpts, drawing connections between the bacteria and the broader topic of friendship reimagined. A publication, which was available in the space and on the project’s website, further explored the diversity of friendship and its potential to offer up new ways to live, work and connect.
- Administering Body: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in collaboration with Presence Switzerland and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK.
- Designers: Jamie Allen, Paul Boshears, Morgan Brown, Julia Freihoff, Bernhard Garnicnig, Corinne Gisel, Fabian Harb, Nina Jaeger, Rebekka Kiesewetter, Kaja Kusztra, Vanessa Lorenzo, Matthias Maurer, Raphaëlle Mueller, Nina Paim, Lukas Popp, Fabian Ritzi, Maximilian Thoman, Kirsty White
- Curator: Rebekka Kiesewetter
- Supporting Body: The Swiss Cultural Fund UK
IN INVISIBLE CALLS, PROTEST ARTISTS GAVE VOICE TO TAIWAN’S UNDERLYING SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS, INCLUDING LAND POLLUTION, GENERATIONAL CONFLICT AND MEDIA MANIPULATION.
Taiwan’s exhibit addressed the rise of protest movements across Asia in the face of rapid urban development and dramatic changes to the political and economic landscape. Under the theme Invisible Calls, it brought together two artists – photographer Cheng-Chang Wu and new-media art creator Che-Yu Hsu – who used their work as a mode of protest, highlighting the underlying social problems and unspoken – or invisible – realities of Taiwanese society.
The democratisation of the Taiwanese political system over the past 30 years has seen the lifting of martial law and party bans, freedom of the press and economic liberalisation. Cheng-Chang Wu has witnessed and recorded these changes, highlighting many of the voices marginalised by mainstream values. His photography project, Visions of Taiwan, adopts the strategy of longterm field research to capture the realities of environmental pollution and land damage caused by human development. For the installation, Wu collected the stories and voices behind each diseased landscape and uses videos, music and sound effects to present the issues in a vivid, theatrical way across three screens.
Meanwhile, Che-Yu Hsu’s video installation incorporated hand-drawn animation into realworld images in an attempt to reclaim personal narratives from the manipulation of the mass media. We live in an era where real-life events are increasingly exploited by the media, dehumanising the participants and divesting them of personality and attitude. Hsu reclaimed the experiences of these people by turning them into animation characters and reconstructing events through the intimacy of personal narrations.
- Administering Body: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art (Art Bank Taiwan), The Ministry of Culture of Taiwan
- Designers: Cheng-Chang Wu, and Che-Yu Hsu and Wan-Yin Chen
- Design Team: Thousand Birds Art Co. Ltd., Mistroom
- Curator: Cheng-Pu Su and Man-Yun Chung
- Supporting Bodies: Taiwan and Taipei Representative Office in the U.K.
Taiwan's installation, Eatopia, celebrates diversity in the pursuit of a utopian state, and offers visitors a unique culinary experience in a tranquil forest-like setting. In More's Utopia, a contented community eats lunch and dinner together every day, and food is always plentiful. These meals play a crucial part in creating the ideal society's strong social bond. For the Biennale, architect Rain Wu and designer Shikai Tseng have rethought the utopian dining experience with a constructivist menu designed to explore the creative melting pot of Taiwanese identities. The installation promises to engage all of the visitors' senses, to refresh and provide 'food for thought'.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Bodies: Chinese Institute of Urban Design, Taiwan; cxcity
Design Team: Rain Wu, Shikai Tseng, Chung-Ho Tsai, Lydia Chang
Curators: Rain Wu, Shikai Tseng
Supporting Bodies: Ministry of Culture, Taiwan; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan; Taipei City Government Cultural Division; World Design Capital Taipei 2016; RC Culture and Arts Foundation; Pasadena International Group; Stone & Resource Industry R&D Centre; Hoomia; Layer One Co. Ltd.; Milk Tea & Pearl
POWER PLANT WAS A FUTURISTIC GREENHOUSE THAT USED SUNLIGHT TO GENERATE BOTH FOOD AND ELECTRICITY. COULD IT HELP TO ALLAY OUR FEARS FOR HUMANITY’S FUTURE?
Food drives many of our most primal emotions, and increasingly it is at the root of our deepest fears. The world’s population is growing rapidly; by 2050, 2.5 billion people will live in cities. At the same time, climate change is amplifying weather extremes – deserts are expanding and fertile land is becoming scarcer. The question is, how can we continue to feed so many people – and how can we do so in a way that doesn’t do further damage to the planet?
Power Plant, the Netherlands’ installation, showed how design offers cause for hope. Visitors entered a greenhouse of the future – a building that harvested both food and the electricity needed to grow it. Power Plant’s transparent solar glass maintained its indoor climate, enabling year-round growth, while a hydroponic system circulated nutrientenriched water, reducing water use by 90 per cent compared to traditional soil farming. By growing vertically, and by using specifically coloured LEDs in addition to sunlight, plant growth can be increased by up to 40 times. “We hope to build a Kew Gardens of the 21st century,” said designer Marjan van Aubel, “where we celebrate modern technologies and grow the plants of the future.”
Power Plant also mounted an eloquent defence of the role of aesthetics in social design. By reimagining solar panels as desirable objects, van Aubel pointed out, they become more adaptable to different settings. “Solar energy doesn't have to be ugly and can be implemented in the most unexpected places,” she said. “Design gives us the ability to imagine a future where efficiency and functionality are on an equal footing with beauty.”
- Administering Body: Het Nieuwe Instituut
- Designer: Marjan van Aubel
- Design Team: Emma Elston, Scott van Haastrecht, Britt Berden, Maurits Koster, Craig Barrow,
- Supporting Bodies: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in London, Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, What Design Can Do
In Pulse Diagram, architect Chacha Atallah, working in collaboration with artist Haythem Zakaria, reflects on the fragile foundations of so-called utopias. It is composed of 54 pylons, which refer to the 54 cities in More's Utopia, linked to each other by charred beams, created using an ancient Japanese technique that scorches the wood to extend its lifespan. In the early 1960s, the architect Yona Friedman proposed a 'mobile city', a series of moveable and floating megastructures, suspended on a grid of stilts so that they left a minimal footprint. With its burned wood supports, the Tunisian installation both celebrates Friedman's 'feasible utopia', and points to its fragile foundations.
Administering Body: SLOW Maison d'edition
Design Team: Chacha Atallah, Haythem Zakaria
Curator: Bertrand Sigwalt
Supporting Bodies: SLOW Maison d'edition; British Council Tunisia
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
TABANLIOĞLU ARCHITECTS EXPLORED THE AMBIGUOUS QUESTION OF WHERE WE BELONG. HOUSEMOTION LOOKED LIKE A HOUSE, BUT WAS IT A HOME?
Tabanlıoğlu Architects’ installation considered the emotional meaning of home in an age of increasingly transient living. “There is a variety of perceptions of what home really is today,” the practice said. “The question ‘Where are you from?’ prompted myriad answers. The meaning of home for a person may simply be a smartphone with a full memory.” Or it may be something more fundamental to our sense of self – Tabanlıoğlu also referenced the psychoanalyst DW Winnicott and his groundbreaking work on childhood development, Home is Where We Start From.
Tabanlıoğlu’s pavilion started with the most elemental idea of a house: a cubic form. This was created using a series of white rods, a simple border demarcating the limits of the home. The gaps between the rods lent a semi-transparency to the structure, drawing visitors in but also allowing the home to dissolve into the wider environment. The walls, perhaps even the home itself, were seen to be illusory.
Once visitors stepped inside the structure, it again took on the homely role of a shelter. A divan was placed in the heart of the space, which Tabanlıoğlu described as being “like a mother’s lap”. It was a place where visitors wanted to spend time, relax and meet new people. At night, lights embedded in the rods turned the structure into a glowing lantern, or perhaps a warm hearth.
- Administering Bodies: Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey,Turkish Embassy in London
- Design Team: Tabanlıoğlu Architects
- Designers: Melkan Gürsel, Murat Tabanlıoğlu, Ali Çalışkan, Deniz Hıdıroğlu, Oktay Murat,
- Sena Altundağ, Gonca Arık Çalışkan, Yusufcan Akyüz, Elif Simge Fettahoğlu
- Curator: Tabanlıoğlu Architects
- Supporting Bodies: Nurus & Tepta
The Wish Machine
The Wish Machine, by multi-disciplinary practice Autoban, is a contemporary version of the 'wish tree' on which people tie notes of hope. Messages fed into the Wish Machine are carried through a tunnel of transparent pneumatic tubes and around the West Wing of Somerset House, before being deposited into the unknown, like coins tossed into the bottom of a well. The gesture of casting a wish into the dark reflects the profound hope of those among the biggest movement of people in recorded history, who search for utopian lands with dreams of a better future.
Photo: Bradley Lloyd Barnes
Administering Body: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV)
Design Team: Seyhan Özdemir, Sefer Çağlar, Çağla Gürbay, Zeynep Akten (Autoban); Paul McMillen, Zehra Uçar,Koray Malhan (curatorial advisors); Umut Südüak (graphic design)
Supporting Bodies: Turkishceramics (sponsor); TEKNO/BARRISOL (production support); Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Time is Subjective
TINKAH’S TIME IS SUBJECTIVE INSTALLATION SUGGESTED THAT FOR A YOUNG, CONFIDENT NATION DEVELOPING AT BREAKNECK SPEED, TIME APPEARS TO BE AT ONE’S COMMAND.
The change of speeds throughout the 7 Emirates provided the inspiration for the United Arab Emirates’ installation, Time is Subjective. A repetition of hourglasses, arranged in rows appeared suspended in mid-air and rotated intermittently. The link to the UAE’s rapid growth was overt: the sand that filled the hourglasses is the UAE’s most ubiquitous material.
The theme of subjective time reflected the designers’ sense of pride in a nation that in less than half a century has transformed vast expanses of desert into an ever-changing urban skyline. The country is, as they say, in a constant state of motion, achieving milestones no one thought possible, which creates the effect of making time seem slower and more tangible. “The speed of time is a subjective, ever-changing and even controllable element,” they said. “Time can sometimes feel so tactile, something you can almost touch.”
And yet, for all the confidence they expressed in their fledgling nation, Tinkah also drew a link between the passage of time and human mortality: “Although time is controllable to a certain degree, it is also fleeting. In youth, a year appears like forever, but as you grow, a decade passes in a click.”
- Design team: Tinkah
- Designers: Reem Al Ghaith, Kholoud Sharafi, Carlos Gris, Hamza Al Omari, Claudia Rivera
- Supporting Bodies: Office of Public & Cultural Diplomacy and UAE Embassy in the UK
Maps of Defiance
The V&A curated the UK entry and collaborated with UK-based Forensic Architecture, an independent research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, to design the UK pavilion. Forensic Architecture’s interdisciplinary team of investigators, including filmmakers, software developers, archaeologists, lawyers, journalists and architects, showed how innovative methods of digital design and image capture enabled on-the-ground DIY cultural heritage documentation and preservation.
Working in the Sinjar area of Iraq, Forensic Architecture worked alongside the NGO Yazda to support and train their researchers in the collection, documentation and preservation of evidence of the destruction, genocide and enslavement perpetrated by Daesh (Islamic State) against the Yazidi people. 3D models of the sites destroyed by Daesh were constructed using aerial photography and photogrammetry and served as valuable pieces of evidence for future litigation. The visually, intellectually and emotionally arresting installation proposed by Forensic Architecture responded to the theme of Emotional States by examining how design can directly inform new perspectives and lines of investigation.
The exhibition presented the process by which these images are collected and reconstructed, alongside the objects used in the training of Yazda’s researchers such as rigs made from kites, plastic bottles and drones. In addition, it explored the role digital cultural preservation has played in communities who have recently experienced trauma.
Design Team: Forensic Architecture with Yazda
Curators: Natalie Kane and Brendan Cormier (V&A)
Administering bodies: V&A; in collaboration with Art Jameel; supported by the British Council and Arts Council England
United Arab Emirates
Al Falaj: Water Systems of the Gulf's Oases
A vast system of planned irrigation once stretched across the Gulf, bringing water and vitality to desert communities. Al Falaj: Water Systems of the Gulf's Oases shows how it could again be relevant to the UAE's rapidly globalising cities. Based on studies of the few authentic examples of falaj channels still in use, the exhibition explores how the idea could be adapted for use today. As well as an effective agricultural system, Al Falaj is a utopian idea in nature. Applied over centuries of development, the channels have become places where public and private realms meet, facilitating exchange. It is also a fair way of dividing water, a measured way of allocating resources in a hot and dry climate.
Administering Body: Cultural Engineering
Design Team: Cultural Engineering; Case Design
Curators: Rashid Bin Shabib, Ahmed Bin Shabib, Samuel Barclay, Anne Geenen
Supporting Body: Embassy of the UAE in London, UK
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's installation Forecast, in collaboration with the V&A, moves with the wind, evoking Britain's nautical past and its future use of renewable energy. Historically, Britain has relied on harnessing the wind for transportation, migration, trade and exploration. Today it is one of the leaders in wind power generation. The kinetic sculpture, fabricated by Litestructures with engineering by Arup and Mott MacDonald, evokes the romantic image of a tall ship sailing, as well as the opportunity to harness the wind for a sustainable future for our planet. As Thomas More wrote in Utopia, " You wouldn't abandon ship in a storm just because you couldn't control the winds."
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Body: Victoria and Albert Museum
Design Team: Edward Barber OBE and Jay Osgerby OBE
Curator: Victoria Broackes (V&A)
Supporting Body: British Land
United States of America
The Immersion Room
The Immersion Room, an interactive installation of digitised wallpapers from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's collection, illustrates how we create ideas of utopia within our own homes. Looking at the transformative capability of wallpaper in creating ideal homes over nearly 300 years, the project offers up a selection of papers from the museum's extensive archives for digital exploration. A digital pen changes the paper projected. If a preferred utopian backdrop is not found from a range of 100 on offer, you can design an alternative on the console table, where you can also collect and save designs to be viewed later.
Photo: Ed Reeve
Administering Bodies: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Design Team: Cooper Hewitt; Local Projects
Curator: Gregory Herringshaw
Supporting Bodies: The Secretary of the Smithsonian and the Smithsonian National Board; Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional support from Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee; Flavor Paper; Osborne & Little; Hadley Exhibits</p
London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal
Face Values engaged emotion as a physical performance, inviting visitors to use their facial expressions to control sound and graphic displays.
In Cooper Hewitt’s Face Values installation, live facial data became the basis of dynamic graphic images and provocative conversations between humans and machines. Visitors were invited to perform emotions and transform identities by interacting with original digital works by R. Luke DuBois and Zachary Lieberman, framed by a canopy of synthetic reeds designed by Matter Architecture Practice. A visual essay by Jessica Helfand explored the historical context of facial analysis.
The exhibition explored alternative uses of technologies that were typically used for security, surveillance, and behavioural profiling. As identities mix, merge and reconfigure, visitors were invited to engage in emotional expression as mask and public performance. They learned how their facial movements could control the cameras and software, and began to use their faces in unfamiliar ways to produce unexpected results, subverting the codes and habits of emotional expression. The results were shown on screens, which were gradually populated with an archive of unique forms.
“Face Values encourages participants to consider the vast capabilities and unforeseen consequences of this rapidly evolving field of digital design," said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, “illuminating the potential of facial recognition technology to quantify, read and control our moods and movements.”
- Administering Body: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Designers: Zachary Lieberman, R. Luke DuBois, Matter Architecture Practice, Jessica Helfand (Scholar)
- Curator: Ellen Lupton at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Supporting Bodies: Secretary/Under Secretaries of the Smithsonian and the Smithsonian National Board
Khải showed how a new generation of design thinkers are applying modern techniques to Vietnamese design without losing the emotional resonance of traditional handcrafting.
In Vietnam design has long been driven by social need – a means of making or repairing objects so that they work well and are improved through each iteration. But alongside this exists a rich history of craft – acts of weaving, carving, dying, drawing and printing, within which are embedded a wealth of emotions. Around these processes, stories are told, secrets are shared and lives are lived.
The Vietnamese installation presented the work of three contemporary designers who embrace this utilitarian heritage but combine it with a greater sense of aesthetic ambition. Fashion designer Thảo Vũ, multidisciplinary designer Giang Nguyễn and visual artist and Lê Thanh Tùng are at the forefront of a culture that, while at ease with digital methods, still believes in the emotional value of creating by hand. “There is a particular joy in the practice of making and there is visceral connection to knowledge passed down through generations and knowing it is being carried to the future,” said curator Claire Driscoll.
The installation consisted of two rooms that explored contemporary interpretations of traditional textile production. Room one was a laboratory showing natural dye techniques. Constructed over an indigo pool, the lab showed the steps of the dyeing process and revealed how Thảo Vũ reinterpreted these methods to create new kinds of sustainable textiles.
- Administering Body: University of Leicester headed by Dr Marta Gasparin in association with Work Room Four and Kilomet 109
- Design Team: Thảo Vũ, Lê Thanh Tùng, Giang Nguyễn
- Curator: Claire Driscoll
- Supporting Bodies: Embassy of Vietnam, London, Dragon Capital
NashTech, Vietnam UK Network, New World Fashion Group, Shopping 4u.direct, Vietnam Airlines, and Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism, Han