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
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
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
Designers from the Design Investigations Studio present After Abundance, a glimpse of life in a changed Austria. Transporting visitors to an Austria contending with the stark realities of climate change, they demonstrate how those who live in this world face down new challenges with tradition and technology, using craft and cunning to thrive in an altered landscape. Visitors will experience the emotional tensions of this altered Austria through first- hand experiments, legal hacks, protest rituals, performances and atmospheric soundscapes.
- Design Investigations led by Anab Jain
- Curated by Thomas Geisler
- A cooperation of Werkraum Bregenzerwald and the University of Applied Arts Vienna
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
Since 2004, deforestation rates have decreased by 80% in Brazil. Despite these reductions, deforestation is still a challenge in the Amazon rainforest. That is why Brazil has committed to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030 and to recover an area of forests the size of England. In short, one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world – home to more than half of Earth’s 10 million species of plants, animals and insects – is vanishing. David Elia’s goal in creating Desmatamento (or Deforestation) is to share the beauty and significance of Brazil’s rainforest not only to Brazil, but to the rest of the world. These forests conjure many emotions, from happiness and passion to sadness and despair.
The installation is based on the design of Elia’s Desmatamento stool (2013) and uses the stumps of found tree trunks to represent the breathtaking surroundings of the Mata Atlântica rainforest, which stretches along the east coast of Brazil. The design evokes the topography of the forests, where various sizes and shapes of plants coexist, and is inspired by the work of iconic Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, who was a pioneer of the conservation of Brazil’s rainforests. The ultramarine blue pigment at the base of the trunks echoes the mark used by forest wardens to indicate trees that are to be saved.
Beyond its symbolic resonances, Deforestation is intended to capture the sense of being in a rainforest. A bespoke aroma ‘creates an imaginary portal into the Mata Atlântica’, immersing visitors in this fragile ecosystem.
- Designed by David Elia Design Studio
The Canadians aims to reveal the complexity of a nation by excavating its emotional landscape and documenting a rich national narrative beyond the typical representations of Canadian life and culture. A 360-degree immersive experience will transport the viewer from coast to coast as they reflect on Canada’s vast landscapes and local residents. The journey will tap into towns whose names are inspired by emotions, from Happy Adventure, Newfoundland to Hope, British Columbia.
Photo by Nicole De Khors
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)
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
"Colombia is a country full of prejudice, many of them erroneous, but the vast majority exaggerated" says David H. Del Valle, curator of Colombia exhibition, for him, this has created a great diversity of contradictions that affect the perception of the country both externally and in its own inhabitants.
For the first entry of Colombia in the London Design Biennale, Del Valle seeks to generate reflection on what is known about the country, reflecting on how despite the war and social conflicts, the country has grown, developed and evolved along with its design. For this, the Colombian exhibition will present different emotional states, framed in two specific moments that will allow visitors to experience a little bit of the fear, shame, guilt, pride, happiness and joy that exist in this great territory. The installations seeks to show a country that does not deny its past, but does not allow itself to be defined by it, it will represent a creative and colourful nation where his inhabitants, despite the war and the pain, love their country and are happy to live in it.
- Designed by Tu Taller Design
- Curated by David H. Del Valle
- In collaboration with the Embassy of Colombia to the UK and ProColombia
- Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia and ProColombia
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
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
Germany's installation looks at trash and upcycling in design, and their emotional resonance in production and reception. Thirty examples by twenty-eight international designers and design studios present a great diversity of approaches to reusing rubbish.
In contrast to industrial recycling processes, methods of upcycling do not aim for mass production. The focus is more on the aesthetic and artistic redesign and reuse of already used materials, with the aim of making high-quality functional and consumer goods.
Alongside the idea of added value, upcycling also relies on strong emotional connections. Trash is usually closely linked to cultural identities and social practices. Exploring uses of trash leads to individual, social and also sociological insights. The starting materials for the exhibits in this show are mostly derived from the direct lived-in environment of the designers, and this personal point of reference is significant.
- Project Management: ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen)
- Curator: Volker Albus, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Karlsruhe, Germany
- Digital curator: Axel Kufus, University of the Arts, Berlin, Germany
Explorations of disobedience date back to Ancient Greece in the design of its mythology; from the cautionary tale of Ikaros, to Antigone, to Prometheus; a hero who disobeys the gods, to yet obey his moral obligation to humanity and create opportunity for its progress.
Greece's design explores this duality in the nature of disobedience. How can design evoke disobedience yet harness its constructive form?
Greece's kinetic installation entices the public to claim agency of creative disobedience and explore the alternative emotional pathways it evokes through a dialogue of body and space. Platforms of material and structural logic construct this environment that becomes an emotional amplifier, a physical megaphone, to the emotions in disobedient behaviour: from curiosity, frustration to temptation to excitement and wonder.
- Credit: Designed by Studio INI of Nassia Inglessis and team E. Brial, M. Vordonarakis, L.Walker, N. L’ Huiller J. Bertolaso, A. Kyriakopoulou, A. Yioti and Neiheiser | Argyros
- Sponsors: Yiotis S.A., S&B (O. Kyriakopoulos), NEON, Martinos Art, Leventis Foundation.
- Image Credit: Luke Walker (Photography), Adélie Lavail (Dancer)
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
Guatemala has developed a textile installation, elaborated with hand-made materials to represent the breath-taking landscape of Lake Atitlán and bring us closer to to Santa Catarina Palopó, a community where art and design is being used as a tool to promote sustainable economic and cultural development.
This is an interactive installation where visitors are encouraged to learn about the project, and its process by exploring the audiovisuals and miniature interpretations of the spaces found in the village.
- Designed by Olivero & Bland Studio in collaboration with Zyle
- Sylvia Denburg, Textile Artist and designer
- Diego Olivero Creative Director and Designer
- Cecilia Santamarina de Orive Curator
Senses of Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Pavilion focuses on the premise on how the sensorial experience of smell heightens the nostalgia of memory within the state of our everyday lives. The installation explores the various smells of the city, and the stories told by the innate and indigenous cultural icons, and local influences by site specific objects and designs, that represent the locality and regionality of Hong Kong.
Through thematic influences of the specific cultural icons and nostalgic representations of Hong Kong, the visitor to the interactive installation will explore both visual and smell related influences, through a variety of scratch-and-sniff wallpapers.
Supported by Hong Kong Federation of Design Association
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 will be an active multi-disciplinary, rapid response design studio. Every week, the studio will be occupied by a different curator and 3-4 designers specialising in a broad range of design disciplines. The team will react to social and cultural issues shown on a news-feed that will be constantly channelled through audio-visuals.
Visitors will witness a unique experience each week, whilst designers question world matters in real time. They will experience the emotional and professional sides of the design process, and be part of a much wider conversation about Israeli culture.
Designed by Shenkar Engineering. Design. Art
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)
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)
Matter to Matter
Latvians are living in a harmony with nature. With the rapid development of modern technology and cities, it is important to be aware of the interaction and impact on the environment and nature, which is so essential in Latvian culture.
Latvia's interactive installation consists of a meditative space, in which visitors can explore the relationship between people and nature.
The installation serves to comment on Latvian design, architecture and technology in the 21st century. Design with a long-term focus will create socially responsible and environmentally friendly design, that can coexist with nature and its inhabitants.
- Designed by Variant Studio
- Supported by Latvian National Museum of Art, Decorative Arts and Design Museum
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
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
Mongolia is known for its harsh landscape, its fierce horsemen and tough nomadic lifestyle, yet there is more to the country than first meets the eye. OYUNA looks to present Mongolia to the world in a new light: through cashmere. There is a rich emotional story to tell of Mongolia and its cashmere – from the care that is put into looking after the extreme and unforgiving lands, to the sense of belonging the nomads feel towards nature, to the pride of the factory worker making a product that so strongly represents their country.
The aim of the OYUNA installation is to evoke a sense of serenity, like that felt from a close relationship with the land. The exhibit begins with raw cashmere, and shows it gradually transforming into design pieces. Visitors are encouraged to touch and feel the cashmere, drawing them into a sensory connection with the many aspects of Mongolia and one of its most treasured materials. They will leave with the sense that a cashmere jumper links the wearer with goats roaming the mountains of Mongolia, and a herder who is a part of one of the world's last remaining nomadic cultures.
They will also learn about the importance of sustainability in cashmere production: most cashmere is produced in areas that are overgrazed, which causes emissions of carbon dioxide from grassland soils and desertification and reduces animal welfare. OYUNA shows that there is another way.
- Designed by OYUNA
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
AV1 and Kahoot!
From robots to virtual gaming platforms, this interactive installation exhibits shows how putting people's needs at the centre of the design process can lead to creative, new solutions to improve life, including those who feel isolated or marginalised on a daily basis, due to health conditions or other circumstances.
AV1 is the first telepresence robot that gives children and young adults with a long-term illness the chance to attend school and maintain their social life. Kahoot! is a gaming platform designed to make learning engaging and fun - by turning the classroom into a gameshow where every learner takes part, unlocking their deepest potential.
In a classroom setting, the robot AV1 and Kahoot! will be presented through different medias, and through hosted, interactive sessions be demonstrated in practice for the Biennale audience.
- Image credit: Estera Kluczenko
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
This stimulative installation will be a composition based on the Fibonacci Spiral, constructed by a cascade of garments made from local cotton handpicked by women farmers and hand stitched by women artisans. The installation will explore the concept of habituation in relation to craft making, the introspective nature of the task and the inner worlds of the farmer and artisan.
A stream of natural cotton garments suspended across the length of the room will turn into a live canvas. Film projections will display visual representations of emotional states, the garment’s intimate relation with the makers and the wearer as a handicraft, a tangible symbol of identity and a perception of self as a people.
Responding to the movement of the viewer, the farmer and artisan’s story will create an interactive display, inviting the viewer towards an introspective interpretation, evoking emotion, ascribing value to the desaturated and decontextualised garments.
- Lead Designer - Mariam Majid
- Curator - Wagging Tongues Productions
- Computational Artist - Mehrbano Khattak
- Director of Photography - Arsalan Shahid
- Sound Designer - Abid Majid
- Strategic Partners - Sikandar M Khan; Suniya Qureshi; Ayesha Mian
- Endorsement - Pakistan High Commission, U.K.
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
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)
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
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
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’ is an exercise in and a reflection on different types of friendly relationships – and friendship, understood as the practice of ethical modes of living and acting together, of seeing and orienting within the world for the sake of a common cause. It aims to open up perspectives on ways of living together that can foster greater social, economic and environmental justice. Who are ‘we’ when we talk about ‘us’? And who is excluded from the ‘we’? ‘Body of Us’ is a quest for agency beyond what is commonly understood and conceded to ‘us’ in prevalent modes of political, institutional and economic governance, as well as by career and market conventions; at the same time it is an embodied experiment in the very topic it addresses, and a call for a relational and inherently self-critical way of doing design and of questioning the conditions under which design is produced, displayed and marketed.
- Initiated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in collaboration with Presence Switzerland and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK
- Supported by the Swiss Cultural Fund UK
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
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
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
The V&A will curate the UK entry and have 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, will show how innovative methods of digital design and image capture can enable on-the-ground DIY cultural heritage documentation and preservation.
Working in the Sinjar area of Iraq, Forensic Architecture will support and train members of the Yazidi people to collect, document and preserve evidence of destruction, genocide and enslavement perpetrated by Daesh (Islamic State) against the Yazda. 3D models of the sites destroyed by Daesh will be constructed using aerial photography and photogrammetry and will serve as valuable pieces of evidence for future litigation. The visually, intellectually and emotionally arresting installation proposed by Forensic Architecture responds to the theme of Emotional States by examining how design can directly inform new perspectives and lines of investigation.
The exhibition will present the process by which these images are collected and reconstructed, alongside the objects used in the training of Iraqi citizens such as rigs made from kites, plastic bottles and helium balloons. In addition, it will explore the role digital cultural preservation has played in communities who have recently experienced trauma.
- Curated by the V&A
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