“Emotional States”, London Design Biennale 2018 | program of exhibitions


After the huge success of the first edition, in 2016, the second London Design Biennale promises to be one of the most exciting cultural events in London in fall 2018.

The London Design Biennale 2018, which will take place at Somerset House from September 4 through 23, is entitled “Emotional States”.
The title reflects the main theme of the exhibition, namely the relationship between design and people’s feelings and emotions. The idea being that emotional states data, such as those contained in Gallup’s Global Emotions Report 2017, express the real state of a country’s society much better than the traditional economic indicators.
“London Design Biennale will similarly feel the global pulse, and design installations will investigate the important relationship between design, strong emotional responses, and real social needs”, Christopher Turner, Director of the London Design Biennale, says.



Somerset House, the London Design Biennale 2018 venue; view from the Thames, and main entrance

The theme of the London Design Biennale 2018 will unfold in the national pavilions of thirty-five countries from six continents: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Mongolia, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, USA, and Vietnam, as well as in those of three UK cities and territories – Dundee, Leeds, and Liverpool – and in a number of special installations.

By and large, the London Biennale will feature a diverse and multidisciplinary set of different approaches – by architects, designers, scientists, engineers, writers, and artists – and events aimed to investigate how contemporary design affects every aspect of people’s lives.

London Design Biennale 2018
Somerset House, Strand, London, UK
September 4- 23, 2018

A preview of some national pavilions & special projects at London Design Biennale 2018


At the London Design Biennale 2018, Australia presents Full Spectrum, an installation designed by Flynn Talbot to communicate the feeling of love and tolerance, as well as to celebrate Australia’s newly-passed legislation that made same-sex marriage legal. Made up of 150 strands of fiber optic light, each one a different color, the installation will invite visitors to touch and move through the light strands, to stand within the interior and be surrounded by a rainbow of colors

LONDON-DESIGN-BIENNALE-2018 United States pavilion Face Values

The United States Pavilion presents Face Values,  an installation by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum which engages emotion as a physical performance, inviting visitors to use their facial expressions to control sound and graphics displays.
Curated by Ellen Lupton, Face Values, transforms live facial data into the basis of dynamic graphic images and provocative conversations between humans and machines. Visitors are invited to perform emotions and transform identities by interacting with original digital works by R. Luke DuBois and Zachary Lieberman, framed by a canopy of synthetic reeds designed by Matter Architecture Practice. Furthermore, a visual essay by Jessica Helfand will explore the historical context of facial analysis.
The exhibition explores alternative uses of technologies that are typically used for security, surveillance, and behavioral profiling. As identities mix, merge and reconfigure, visitors are invited to engage in emotional expression as a mask and public performance. They will learn how their facial movements can control the cameras and software and may begin to use their faces in unfamiliar ways to produce unexpected results, subverting the codes and habits of emotional expression. The results will be shown on screens, which will gradually be populated with an archive of unique forms.


Entitled After Abundance, the exhibition of Austria, conceived by Design Investigations Studio, transports visitors to an Austria contending with the stark realities of climate change, By the means of first-hand experiments, legal hacks, protest rituals, performances and atmospheric soundscapes, the installation demonstrates how those who live in this world face new challenges with tradition and technology, using craft and cunning to thrive in an altered landscape.


Designed by LanD Studio, the pavilion of China presents the case of the Nanjing Yangtze Bridge, built in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, describing the emotional significance of an iconic structure and how it became part of the nation’s collective memory and a national symbol of technological achievement, whose image was disseminated through mass media, such as propaganda posters and low-cost photography.


Pure Gold – Upcycling and its Emotional Touch, the installation of Germany curated by Volker Albus, looks at trash and upcycling in design, and their emotional resonance in production and reception. Thirty examples by twenty-eight international designers and design studios present a great diversity of approaches to reusing rubbish. The starting materials for the exhibits on view are mostly derived from the direct lived-in environment of the designers


Designed by Olivero & Bland Studio in collaboration with Zyle, Palopò, the installation of Guatemala will recreate the deep waters of South American Lake Atitlán and bring us closer to Santa Catarina Palopó, a community where design is being used as a tool to promote sustainable economic and cultural development.


The pavilion of Latvia, designed by Variant Studio, will explore a natural phenomenon, condensation, to transform a technological glass surface into an interactive platform, inviting visitors to leave temporal marks, message or prints, which in a couple of minutes will naturally disappear


Entitled Sensorial Estates, the Hong Kong Pavilion focuses on how smells can take us back to physical places and states of being. Designed by We-Designs and LAByrinth, this installation explores the various smells of the city of Hong Kong, and the stories told by design objects and imagery that will explore iconic and nostalgic representations of Hong Kong as a place of memory. The visitors will interact with the installation through both sight and smell by way of a series of boxes with aroma infused objects and scratch-and-sniff wallpapers.


Italy will present a selection of twenty-four drawings from the book L’Architettura degli Alberi (The Architecture of Trees) by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi. The drawings summarize a twenty-year-long study of different tree species Leonardi has studied and photographed in Florence, Modena, and on the Apennine Mountains. He then proceeded with the redrawing process, using photography as a basis. Communicating the importance of nature, the installation will highlight the concept of restorative design and the relationship between humans and the natural environment

LONDON-DESIGN-BIENNALE-2018-Somertes House Lebanon pavilion

Lebanon will present The Silent Room, a temporary pavilion installed just in front of the Somerset House. The concept is that – since we mostly live in urban environments characterized by a constant flux of information and distraction, both visual and sonic – silence is increasingly becoming a commodity for the privileged. Therefore, The Silent Room is a private “shelter” installed in a public space to provide a cocoon-like space, isolated from the city’s noise. The Silent Room advocates silence as a form of resistance, an act of cleansing needed to reclaim ownership of our thoughts and of ourselves.


In the pavilion of Norway, visitors will interact directly with a robot in a ground-breaking gaming platform which brings together AI and humans in a live classroom style environment. (Image by Estera Kluczenko)


Curated by the V&A in collaboration with Forensic Architecture, an independent and interdisciplinary research agency based at the University of London, the UK Pavilion will present how innovative methods of digital design and imaging can enable DIY cultural heritage documentation and preservation.
The visually, intellectually and emotionally arresting installation proposed by Forensic Architecture responds to the theme of Emotional States by examining how design can directly inform new perspectives and lines of investigation.
The exhibition will present the process by which images constructed using aerial photography and photogrammetry of the Sinjar area of Iraq will be used to create 3D reconstructions of the sites destroyed by Daesh, and will show how Forensic Architecture will support and train members of the Yazidi people to collect, document and preserve evidence of destruction, genocide, and enslavement perpetrated by Daesh (Islamic State) against the Yazda. The exhibition will also feature objects used in the training of Iraqi citizens such as rigs made from kites, plastic bottles and helium balloons

LONDON-DESIGN-BIENNALE-2018 Trace installation Regest Street Architecture Social Club

Trace, a special project by Architecture Social Club, Regent Street
Conceived by London-based multidisciplinary design collective Architecture Social Club, Trace is a suspended installation located in Regent Street, in London’s lifestyle and shopping heart, which has been conceived to draw the viewer’s attention to the power of the natural environment as it interacts with the built environment. Built under the direction of the architect John Nash, Regent Street is world-renowned for its Grade II listed facades, which represent some of the most distinguished architecture in London.
The iconic curve of the street and height of its impressive Regency buildings means Regent Street has its own unique wind patterns.
Reacting to light and wind, the installation renders the invisible visible, by harnessing the street’s wind power and changing light over the course of the day and night to prompt the viewer to consider their own effects on the environments which they inhabit.
Rippling movements and hypnotic rhythms create the sense of a living and breathing ecosystem – one that points towards a positive future where sustainable living and working is ubiquitous and beautiful.
Through its shape and orientation, Trace encourages the viewer to look upwards to the rooftops of Regent Street. Its materials and swarm-like form hint at rooftop allotments, the habitat of honey bees: natural habitats that exist in the urbanest of locations.

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