The second London Design Biennale has taken place in the Somerset House from 4th to 23rd September. Emotional States was the main theme for this year's Biennale which has inspired a very diverse interpretations and commentary on this topic. 40 countries, cities and territories in 6 continents have presented their installations. This huge range of participants has allowed the visitors to discover ways in which different regions interpret this title and the meaning that it has to them.
Personally, this was my favourite event of the whole of London Design Festival because it seemed very personal to the places as well as designers. Each of the installations were somehow linked to the history or present events of the country, region or territory which made it that bit more special.
In the official guide for the LDF it said 'The Biennale presents an exciting laboratory of ideas that investigates the important relationship between design, strong emotional responses and real social needs'. This perfectly sums up the whole aim of this event as in a world full of the unknown, design enables people to express their needs and feelings.
My favourite top 5 installations were that from Poland, India, Germany, Greece and Netherlands.
POLAND - 'A matter of things'
Poland displayed 10 objects that are meaningless in themselves but emotionally charged in their historical context. The 10 objects were selected based on their connectivity to the most emotionally charged events in recent Polish history (1920s onwards). The 10 items included bunk beds (1940s) which were used during WW2 in the converted Othodox Church in Kozielsk. The building had to house many prisoners, which is why they are over 4 meters tall. Toilet paper necklace was also one of the items. In the 1980s, ration cards were issued again, therefore many things were not available to get. Toilet paper was rarely available in shops, therefore buying it became a cause for celebration. People were taking as many as they could and to make it easier for them to carry it back home they used to put it on a loop of string. Other items included a camp bed, the round table, a payphone and the yellow curtains.
GERMANY - 'Pure gold - upcycling and its emotional touch'
In a world where many are looking for sustainable materials as well as ways in which we can re use already existing products, Germany's installation fit right in. It showcased 30 creative approaches to waste and how we can have a greater emotional connection with them. Since the materials and products used have already went through one life, the people owning them might have an emotional connection with them. Giving them a new purpose extends their life, and possibly increases the emotional connection that the owner/user has with them.
INDIA - 'State of indigo'
India's installation explored the emotional charge of indigo. Indigo is a natural pigment that has become synonymous with the country's identity. However, it is also linked with colonial trade and slavery. The installation allows the visitor to go in and be surrounded by films of the workers standing in a line,in the plant- filled water creating a small amount of the 'blue gold'. This blue dye is still manufactured and is associated with jeans that we all wear.
GREECE - 'Disobedience'
Greece has presented a 7 metre long kinetic wall. It was supposed to challenge our perception of design and architecture as something static or emotionally inert. It has been created from a steel spring skeleton and recycled plastic (once again the idea of sustainability and recycling has been included). When the visitor stepped inside the walls were moving depending on where they have stepped. Nassia Inglessis (the designer) has said 'The structure becomes a physical megaphone for emotions experienced in acts of disobedience, from curiosity or frustration to temptation, excitement and wonder'. When I walked through this installation, I was amazed by the way in which the walls reacted and changed to your movement. It has put the public in control of its shape and its movement.
NETHERLANDS - 'Power Plant'
Netherlands focused on the idea of future ways of food supply. With the world population rapidly increasing, and climate change creating weather extremes, they tackled the question of how can we continue to feed so many people and how can we do so without causing further damage to the planet. Their installation is a greenhouse of the future in which it harvests both food and the electricity needed to grow it. In a short movie that accompanied the installation it was mentioned that it could be put in places in which we have not thought about growing food before. The amount of food grown would be increased due to the new technology but also due to the fact that the power plant could be placed in more places. The way in which it would work has been described as 'the transparent solar glass maintains an indoor climate, while a hydroponic system and the use of specifically coloured LEDs in addition to sunlight enables plant growth to be increased by up to 40 times'.