LONDON 2018 – At Somerset House, London Design Biennale 2018 “examines the full spectrum of emotional experiences, from anger to joy, sadness to disgust.” From Greece to Puerto Rico and from the US to Lebanon: over 40 countries, cities and territories joined the event on show until the 23rd of September.
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“We are living in a quite turbulent world at the moment with lots of changes on the political level,” says Dr Christopher Turner, Director of the London Design Biennale 2018. “The installations propose radical and provocative ideas and investigate the important relationship between design, strong emotional responses, and real social needs”.
Indeed, many entries aim to reflect on and respond to global issues such as climate change, migration and equal rights. We selected 12 must-see installations linked to strong feeling, emotions and states of mind.
DISOBEY • Greece
What if buildings, boundaries and walkways morphed and adapted in response to our movements? At the center of Somerset House’s courtyard, Greece’s kinetic installation by Studio INI is comprised of a 17 metre-long wall constructed from a steel spring skeleton built up with recycled plastic which flexes, morphs and breathes around the human body. The installation describes the Greek ‘disobedient temperament, with explorations of disobedience dating back to Ancient Greek mithology. “How can we design to evoke disobedience yet harness its constructive and creative form?”
ENJOY SILENCE • Lebanon
Lebanon joins the London Design Biennale 2018 creating a deep blue cocoon-like pavilion isolated from Somerset House’s bustling courtyard. Designed by Nathalie Harb, The Silent Room “advocates silence as a form of resistance, an act of cleansing needed to reclaim ownership of our thoughts and ourselves”.
FEEL AT HOME • Turkey
What home really is today? For some it could be may simply be a smartphone with a full memory, others might identify it as something more fundamental to our sense of self. Tabanlıoğlu Architects’ installation in the Somerset House’s courtyard considers the emotional meaning of home in an age of increasingly transient living. A series of white rods create a “transparent” cube. The gaps between the rods lend 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, are seen to be illusory.
LOVE • Australia
Visitors are embraced by a rainbow colour wash made from 150 strands of fibre optic light, each one a different colour. Flynn Talbot’s installation for the Australian installation communicates the feeling of love and openness and celebrates the country’s newly-passed legislation that made same-sex marriage legal.
HOPE • The Netherlands
The Netherlands present Power Plant, a futuristic greenhouse by inventor and solar designer Marjan van Aubel which harnesses sunlight to generate both food and electricity. With climate change, population ever-growing and rapid urbanization both land and natural resources are becoming scarcer. Power Plant’s transparent solar glass maintains its indoor climate, enabling year-round growth, while a hydroponic system circulates nutrient-enriched 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
CONTEMPLATE • Argentina
TRImarchi Collective invites visitors to get lost in a raw art ambience, underlining unique pieces created entirely with chaguar, a textile technique by the native Wichi community. The piece seeks to push popular arts to its limits and take attendees to a contemplative space.
DWELL ON NOSTALGIA • Hong Kong
How can smell make us walk down memory lane? The Hong Kong’s installation features curated objects and imagery exploring iconic and nostalgic representations of Hong Kong as a place of memory. Interact with the installation space through both sight and smell by way of a series of boxes with aroma infused objects and scratch-and-sniff wallpapers.
SETTLE • The Refugee Pavilion
Despite being designed as temporary solutions, refugee camps across the world have become permanent sedentary metropolises. Nairobi Design Week presents Adrian Jankowiak of Afrika Design and Yara Said from the Salwa Foundation which created an installation featuring a temporary shelter and objects designed by displaced people which tell a story of survival through creativity.
INTERACT • United States
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum presents Face Values an installation engaging emotion as a physical performance. Control the cameras and software with facial movements and expression to create sound and graphic displays. The installation explores alternative uses of technologies that are typically used for security, surveillance, and behavioural profiling and harnesses live facial data as the basis of dynamic graphic images and provocative conversations between humans and machines.
DEFINE YOURSELF • Puerto Rico
Historically, Puerto Rico is an island which has been constantly redefining its own identity through colonisation. From here, Muuaaa Design Studio created a national identity-making space where you can choose from images that they feel best represent your own country’s identity. Reflect on what they mean and represent, and how relevant they are or aren’t. Selections will generate a graphically designed result, reflecting a truly unique identity.
INVESTIGATE • United Kingdom
How design can directly inform new perspectives and lines of investigation? Curated by the V&A, the UK participation showcases the work of independent research agency Forensic Architecture in the Sinjar area of Iraq. The team collaborated with NGO Yazda to collect and preserve of evidence of the destruction, genocide and enslavement perpetrated by the Islamic State against the Yazidi people. 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.
PLAY • Dundee
Share your emotional state without words and by using gaming techniques and 360-degree sound and animation. But there is more than it meets the eye. The playful installation highlights how video games can to help young people start talking about their mental health. Indeed, Biome collection worked with youth organisations and health services in Dundee.