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London’s first Design Biennale reveals details of its “utopian” debut


Japan: Untitled © Yasuhiro Suzuki.

London’s inaugural Design Biennale is set to open at Somerset House this September, based around the idea of Utopia to coincide with the venue’s year-long events programme.

The biennale is headed up by London Design Festival director Ben Evans, biennale director Christopher Turner, former editor of Icon, and London Design Festival co-founder Sir John Sorrell. More than 30 countries are taking part in the event, which will showcase newly commissioned works in design-led innovation, contemporary design, creativity and research.

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby are representing the UK, creating an installation curated by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Each country will be developing a presentation around the theme Utopia by Design, and issues being explored include migration, pollution, water and social equality. The event has revealed that Greece’s project will “contextualise current population movements,” and Israel’s includes a “proposal for how first aid might be parachuted in to disaster zones.”

“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,” says Christopher. “The utopian impulse allows us to escape the blinkers of the present and dream, telling stories about alternative futures that ask important questions about the world in which we live. The London Design Biennale will feature some of these provocations, which aim to provoke real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures.”
London Design Biennale takes place from 7 – 27 September at Somerset House.


Chile: The Cybersyn Operations Room
archive picture © Gui Bonsiepe


South Africa: Porky Hefer Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I credit Adriaan Louw © Southern Guild