Aiming to maintain its place as a center of design, the city of London added yet another design event to its scope. Organized for the first time this year, London Design Biennale is carried out between September 7-27, 2016; simultaneously with the Design Festival which has been organized repeatedly since 2003. Director of the biennale and former editor of ICON Magazine, Christopher Turner summarized the main goal of the biennale as follows: Observing the place of design on global scale and its modifying strength in modern life. Theme for the biennale is designated as “Utopia by Design” which is dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the first publish date of “Utopia”, the iconic book of Thomas More. Design teams were challenged to create installations based on the history of the utopia concept and main problems that humanity is facing. Displayed installations showed the unique design approach of each country. This unique approach was reflecting the charactheristic features of participant countries. Themes like the reduction of natural resources, social memory, cultural richness and daily lives were chosen for the biennale so that visitors could relate and occasionally participate in the event through an interactive fashion. Organized in Somerset House, the national exhibitions of Turkey, France, Lebanon, India and Russia were quite impressive for the connection established with the context. National participation of our country was organized by IKSV.
Turkey-The Wish Machine
Designed by Autoban for the Turkey participation, “The Wish Machine” is situated at the west wing of Somerset House; the hall holding the works of France, Japan, Norway, Holland and Germany. As soon as you reach the west wing, a pneumatic pipe installation on the ceiling arouses interest and easily attracts the visitors towards the Turkey Exhibition. The utopia of European Union has taken a major blow by Brexit.Western civilization perceives as a threat the immigrants who left their countries in Middle East or Africa for political or economic reasons. The design world needs to create a new utopia for the number of people departed from their countries for a dream/utopia of a better life in Europe. Besides, Turkey is located right in the center of this migration route and already has over three millions of refugees within its national borders.Choosing this input as the theme of the design then became inevitable.
Just like Paul McMillen, one of the curatorial consultants has stated before; in this journey where hope is the only driving power, immigrants turn into notes hung up on wish trees. Started off from this concept of wish trees which are highly popular in the Anatolian culture, designers encourage participants to cherish hope towards a better future. Serving as an open invitation, this curation creates a starting point to take action. Turned into a design object by Autoban, the concept of pneumatic system stands for a wish tree working with air pressure. The spatial setup creates a perception of infinity along with its transparency and reflective surfaces. When you get inside the exhibition space covered with stretching mirrors, you see many participants who wrote their wishes. Everyone seems to be content for being a part of an interactive design. Visitors write their wishes and put them in custom-made transparent boxes. They open the lid at the end of the tunnel and place the tubes inside the machine after passing through a hexagonal tunnel made out of transparent tubes. After that, those wishes start their journey of hope towards uncertainty.
Design Team: Autoban ; Seyhan Özdemir, Sefer Çağlar
Project Team: Çağla Gürbay, Zeynep Akten
Curatorial Consultants: Paul McMillen, Zehra Uçar, Koray Malhan
Graphic Design: Umut Südüak
Fransa -Le Bruit des Bonbons
Touching upon the fact that objects absorb memories, life experiences and cultural heritage, Benjamin Loyauté created this association with candies. Focusing on the problematic of Syria with the movie entitled “The Astounding Eyes of Syria”, Loyauté emphasizes on the fact that the symbolic burden of objects and their evocations will never disappear. Trying to create an experience through collecting the memories of those who survived the tradegy of war, Loyauté creates a new candy based upon the candy-related stories of Syrians: “Louloupti”. Shaped upon an archaeologic Assyrian figure, these pink candies can be bought at a vending-machine located inside the France exhibition. Using the candyrelated memories as a transmitting tool, the film producer makes a way for those who watched and emphatized with the movie to turn “Utopia” into a “Heterotopia”. The income from the candy sales will be used for the education of Syrian refugee children.
Lübnan -Mezzing In Lebanon
The street life of Beirut is installed on the front porch of one of the most glorious structures of London and faces the River Thames. Carried to London without masking out or interfering anything by the curator Annabel Karim Kassar, the profile of Beirut streets maps out a new experience along with two different urban spaces that are quite different from one another. Praising the Lebanese people who still manage to conserve their optimism despite all the dystopias, this installation reminds us that life is a phenomenon which needs to be celebrated as it is. The hookah lounge installed in the space, Lebanese people handing out coffees and the exceptional smell of Falafels will detract you from London and send you out to the streets of Beirut.
Taking a deeper look at the 100-year-old design industry of the country, the exhibition reflects how the cultural heritage, traditional weaving and ancient mythology of India walks hand in hand with design. The exhibition concretizes India along with powerful colors and the chaotic spatial perception created inside the space. Despite the caste system, rich history and multi-layered character of the country can be perceived as a utopic collaboration when reexamined.
Rusya -Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design
The lost archive of idealist Soviet designers…The Russia exhibition presents the new design tendency formed within the body of the VNIITE Design and Research Institute between 1960-1990, along with the documents and materials they have collected from designers. Disappeared within the Soviet regime that fell apart due to the Glasnost, this institute and the designs it embodies are compiled through individual efforts of the designers. Few of these avant-garde designs can now be reproduced. Projects focusing on dignifying the state ideology and modern man rigorously differ from the western design aesthetics of its time.
Yunanistan- Utopian Landscape
Greek participation is resigned to two sisters named Niki and Zoe Moskofoglou. They abided by the theme “utopia” which is originated from the Greek language meaning “no-place” and “good place”. Spreading over two rooms in the east wing of Somerset House, the installation stands for the only national work that is displayed both indoors and outdoors. They used marble, one of the most significant natural resources of Greece, as a metaphor and drew the attention to the ever-changing trade routes of our day, movements of people and their socio-cultural states. Working on the feelings of being in nowhere, getting lost and dreaming which the concept of utopia reflects upon, curators used marble as a powerful reflection. They focused on recreating the quarry of Dionysos, the birth place of marble that is used in the construction of Parthenon,on a digital platform and they approached this utopia from the perspective of a “passenger”. Arousing interest on the migration problem of our day; the duo investigated the cultural environment over identity confusion, materiality, movements of people and trade routes. Aiming to leave aside the familiar maps of migration and trade routes and create a new map; the curators reflected upon local-global migrations and culture-idea flows. The installation located inside comprises of a video that shows the contributions of marble transportation history of Greece and cultural-social migration. As for the installation located in the hall, it was conceptualized by the lighting designer Eleftheria Deko. Nowadays, people migrate to other countries with the hope of finding a more secure place via Greece. In order to elaborate movements of people and migrations and to think about these events, using marble as a metaphor for it has travelled back and forth throughout the history lays emphasis on the effect of craftspeople and designers, on the sense of belonging.