A total of 34 countries will participate in the inaugural London Design Biennale, according to a press release from the organization. Set to open on September 7th, the Biennale will center on the theme Utopia by Design, looking at “sustainability, migration, pollution, water and social equality,” among other issues.
The theme was chosen in honor of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s “Utopia,” and the Biennale will be “the centerpiece” of the Somerset House’s year-long programme celebrating the text. “We chose the inaugural theme, Utopia by Design, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s classic, and to reflect on the rich history of the modernist design it inspired,” said Christopher Turner, the Director of the London Design Biennale.
The Biennale “will present newly commissioned works in contemporary design, design-led innovation, creativity and research,” bringing together “designers, innovators and cultural bodies” to explore “the role of design in our collective futures.” A diverse group of countries from five continents are set to participate: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SouthAfrica, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, UK and the USA.
Among the projects that have already been unveiled is Mexican architect Fernando Romero’s “exploration of the potential of charters cities” through an installation that examines “the pyschologcial roots of Utopia from German designer Konstantin.” Nigeria’s project, meanwhile, will look at floating cities as a potential solution to flooding in the country, while Greece’s project will “contextualize current population movements.”
The Chilean installation, “The Counterculture Room” by Fab Lab Santiago will consist of a 1:1 scale installation of a project carried out by the government of Salvador Allende in 1971, which aimed to create a real time communication network between workers and authorities.
Israel’s proposal looks at an option to parachute first aide into disaster zones, while Lebanon “will bring a lively depiction of Beirut’s street spirit” to the River Terrace by the Waterloo bridge.
In addition, the UK will be represented by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Other organizations that will represent their countries include: the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (USA), DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Directorate-General for the Arts (Portugal), Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa),and The Japan Foundation.