Despite having an established pedigree within the creative world, London has never had its own Biennal(e)—or even Triennale, for that matter. This year however, the city is opening the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, showcasing work from 34 participating countries around the theme of Utopia by Design.
Set to be hosted at Somerset House, a former royal palace on the Strand in central London, the Biennale will run from September 7 to 27 this year. On display will be installations curated by leading design institutions from around the world. Participating bodies include USA’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), The Japan Foundation, and Victoria and Albert Museum (UK).
Other participating nations will be: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Judging the contributions will be an an international advisory committee and jury comprised of established figures within the industry who will “award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions.”
“We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House,” said Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the Biennale. “500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson also added: “Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity—the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”