Monday, October 03, 2016

London: Somerset House – London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design.

De optimo rei publicae deque nova insula Utopia”
"Of a republic's best state and of the new island Utopia"
 Thomas More 1516

London: Somerset House – London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design. The theme of the first edition of the London Design Biennale was Utopia by Design which celebrated the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, Utopia (1516). The first ever London Design Biennale, opened to the public for a three-week take-over of Somerset House. Installations, artworks, prototypes and designs from 37 countries and territories came together in an entertaining and inspiring exploration of the role of design in our collective futures.
Above – Public Medal Award – Albania. In The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, the Albanian installation, entitled Bliss reflected the grandeur of the Neoclassical building of Somerset House.

The Public Medal Award
London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design 
Albania – Bliss

Helidon Xhixha

Referencing utopian city planning, Helidon Xhixha's Bliss is 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 create reflections, creating myriad opportunities for interaction. The circular layout of the benches aims 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 bears the engraved outline of Europe's borders, considered by many refugees as a modern-day utopia.

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
Dr. Christopher Turner - director

Director of the Biennale, Dr Christopher Turner, explained how the centrality of the theme - Utopia by Design - was fundamental to establishing a strong coherence and curated unity between all participating countries and territories. Design teams were encouraged to create installations that interrogated the history of the utopian idea, and engaged with some of the fundamental issues facing humanity. Their responses celebrated cultural diversity and showed design's innate power to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real changes by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Together these visions represent a laboratory of ambitious ideas that might contribute to making the world a better place. And what other objective is there to good design? 

The Awards

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
 Lebanan – Mezzing In Lebanon
Annabel Karim Kassar RIBA - AKK Architects Ltd.

Situated outside on the River Terrace overlooking the Thames, Mezzing In Lebanon brought a slice of Beirut street life to the center of London, celebrating utopia through the everyday designs of the people of Lebanon

Lebanon – Mezzing In Lebanon

The installation brought a bustling scene of falafel and coffee stalls, a small lounge cinema, street signs, carts, and even an authentic barbershop to Somerset House. As you sat, ate, drank, smoked or talked, you where be transported to the streets of Beirut. Architect Annabel Karim Kassar finds 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.

“The London Design Biennale celebrates design as an international language, which everyone can understand. It does not recognize boundaries or borders. It is always seeking to make the world a better place. All over the world, nations and cities are increasingly recognizing the power of design to bring social change and economic growth. They are realizing that creativity, with design at its heart, can play a vital role in providing solutions to problems which affect the way people live".
 Sir John Sorrell – president

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design

Sir John is photographed with Dominic Davenport of The National Saturday Club, which offers young people the unique opportunity to study every Saturday morning at their local college or university for free.

The Awards

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
Russia - Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design

Moscow Design Museum - Alexandra Sankova

Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design offered a glimpse into an idealized 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, told 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.

The Jaguar Award

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
Switzerland - In-between: The Utopia of the Neutral

Curator Giovanna Lisignoli

Seven Swiss design studios were 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 reflected upon the cultural identity, design tradition and exchange of knowledge. It was 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 imagined the 'in between' as a fundamental space to probe neutrality as a catalyst for movement.
Above. Magnify the Origin - Adrien Rovero – Schott Suisse SA, Yverdon.


Stephanie Baechler – Meroz Ressorts S.A. – Chene-Bourg

Switzerland - In-between: The Utopia of the Neutral

Curator - Giovanna Lisignoli

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
Turkey – The Wish Machine

The Wish Machine by multi-disciplinary practice Autoban, was 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.

  London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design

Australia - Plastic Effects
Brodie Neill

Designer Brodie Neill's Plastic Effects highlights 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 tons of debris are washed up on Australia's coastline every year. Neill's installation highlights 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.

Designer Brodie Neill

Photograph by Ed Reeves - courtesy London Design Biennale

London Design Biennale 2016 – Utopia by Design
United Kingdom – Forecast
Edward Barber – Jay Osgerby

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."




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