Totally Thames Festival
As the Totally Thames festival sails into town, Where London's Sam Rogg shows you how to make the most of London's most famous waterway
Installations, artworks, prototypes and designs from 37 countries and territories have come together in an entertaining and inspiring exploration of the role of design in our collective futures. The London Design Biennale will allow you to interact with brand new work by world-leading architects, designers, scientists, writers and artists in a broad, vibrant exhibition that includes large-scale kinetic sculpture, immersive digital installations, culinary pop-ups, performances and VR renderings of the future.
Clockwise from top left: Lebanon's 'Beirut street on the Thames riverfront', Pakistan's hanging display and Spain's utopic next century city
Each exhibit is a response to the Biennale’s 2016 theme ‘Utopia by Design’, chosen as part of Somerset House’s UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and possibility, to mark the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s text. The resulting commissions are richly varied, including fantastical imaginings of future cities, homages to unrealised utopian proposals of the past, and innovative solutions for issues in 21st-century life. Visitors will be able to grab a pomegranate juice, falafel or a wet shave in Annabel Karim Kassar's meticulous recreation of a bustling Beirut street on the Thames riverfront (Lebanon); influence mischer’traxler’s precarious light sculpture as it moves, dims and brightens in reaction to its spectators (Austria); eat the conceptual food of Chung-Ho Tsai in Rain Wu’s tranquil forest- like setting (Taiwan); relax in the mouths of ferocious beasts courtesy of Porky Hefer (South Africa) or wander around the Santander of 2100 in a virtual reality realisation of the smart city's future (Spain).
Jaguar's installation examines the relationship between technology and mobility
Jaguar’s bespoke installation reflects its rich history of innovation, and explores how technology has liberated mobility. Underlying much of the Biennale are a number of pressing, universal issues that designers around the world are seeking to address, among them sustainability, migration and conflict, pollution, technological innovation, water scarcity and social equality: Mexican architect Fernando Romero explores the ‘transnational’ border city as a solution for migration and increasing populations; Israel presents an innovative proposal for how first aid might be distributed in disaster zones; a trio of Nigerian designers look at how environmental balance might be restored to the Niger Delta and Australian Brodie Neill draws attention to – and finds beauty in – ocean-based plastic waste.
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's kinetic sculpture (UK)
The UK is represented by London-based design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. Curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum, their 14-metre kinetic sculpture and exploration of the nation’s relationship with wind energy will occupy the centre of the iconic Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Other leading institutions, museums and organisations representing their countries include Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (USA), DAMnº magazine (Belgium), German Design Council, MAK (Austria), Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), and The Japan Foundation.
Belgium (left) and Austria (right)
Dr Christopher Turner, director of the London Design Biennale said:
“When we set our inaugural theme, Utopia by Design, we hoped to engage with some of the most fundamental issues faced by humanity today. How might the critical and optimistic imaginations of designers transform our future world, and how do perspectives differ across the globe? The response has been extraordinary and we are delighted to have such a richly varied array of projects to present. The 37 installations promise to provide an inspiring and energising tour of the world through design, which will entertain our visitors, provoke debate and foster collaboration over our three-week takeover of Somerset House.”
Indonesia (left) and Sweden (right)
Sir John Sorrell, president, said:
“The London Design Biennale celebrates design as an international language, which everyone can understand. It does not recognise boundaries or borders. It is always seeking to make the world a better place. All over the world, nations and cities are increasingly recognising the power of design to bring social change and economic growth. They are realising that creativity, with design at its heart, can play a vital role in providing solutions to problems which affect the way people live.
For more information and tickets, visit www.londondesignbiennale.com
Title image showcasing India's installation, courtesy Ed Reeve Images
Imagery courtesy Ed Reeve Images