London Design Biennale is a global stage for world-leading contemporary design and design-led innovation, creativity and research.
Established in 2016 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, London Design Biennale promotes international collaboration and the global role of design with exhibitions and installations that demonstrate the ambition to create universal solutions to problems which concern us all.
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In 2021, The Pavilion of the African Diaspora (PoAD) was born from the need for a space on the global stage centred on the voices and contributions of people born of the African Diaspora.
Canada’s pavilion in 2021 was a self-reflection of the reliance on indoor micro-climate systems in the building sector at the expense of the wellbeing of our planet.
In 2018, the Australian pavilion was a celebration of love, inspired by a new spirit of openness in the country.
The courtyard in 2018 played host to the Greek pavilion, ‘Disobedience’, which was a 17m-long kinetic wall that challenged our perception of design and architecture as something static, or emotionally inert.
Circular forms, traditional textiles and ancient mythology wove together a sense of modern India in 2016.
Latvia, winner of the Best Design Medal in 2018, presented an installation that allowed visitors to leave fleeting messages in a wall of condensation.
The theme of the first edition of the London Design Biennale was ’Utopia by Design,‘ which celebrated the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, Utopia.
The director of the Biennale, Dr Christopher Turner, explained how the centrality of the theme was fundamental to establishing a strong coherence and curated unity between all participating countries and territories.
Design teams were encouraged to create installations that interrogated the history of the utopian idea, and engaged with some of the fundamental issues facing humanity.
The pavilion responses celebrated cultural diversity and showed design's innate power to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst, provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. These visions formed a laboratory of ambitious ideas that might contribute to making the world a better place. And what other objective is there to good design?
In 2018, the theme, ‘Emotional States,’ was a diverse, global commentary on our emotionally turbulent times. 40 countries, cities and territories presented installations that were curated by some of the most distinguished museums and design institutions in the world.
These exhibits interrogated the ways in which design affects every aspect of our lives, and influences our very being, emotions and experiences. Together, they presented an exciting culmination of ideas that investigated the important relationship between design, strong emotional responses, and real social needs.
London Design Biennale's inaugural Summit took place between 25-26 June 2019. The Summit focused on ‘Resonance,’ the theme for the third edition.
The Summit addressed the impact of design –its power to cross borders, bridge cultures, and alter behaviours and societies. Panel discussions looked at how design can improve a variety of major global issues, including climate change (our resonance with the planet) and international relations (how countries resonate with each other).
In 2020, we published an Open Call for ‘Design In An Age of Crisis,‘ an initiative in partnership with Chatham House. The project invited radical design thinking from the world's design community, young people and the public.
Under the themes of health, work, society and environment, the innovative submissions were presented online, and then at the third edition of the Biennale in 2021.
The partnership between London Design Biennale and Chatham House was driven by a mutual commitment to fostering international dialogue towards seeking solutions to the world’s biggest global challenges, advancing London and the UK’s role as an international hub for innovation, new thinking and ideas exchange.
The third edition of London Design Biennale took place at Somerset House from 1-25 June 2021.
Multi-award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin was the Artistic Director, and she chose the theme ‘Resonance‘ which countries, cities and territories responded to in their installations and presentations.
"We live in an age of hyper resonance, the consequences of which are both exhilarating and devastating. Everything we design and everything we produce resonates" explained Devlin of the theme.
The second London Design Biennale Summit took place at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 2022.
During the sessions, the audience got an insight into the theme of the fourth edition of the Biennale with Aric Chen, General and Artistic Director of the Nieuwe Instituut, Artistic Director for London Design Biennale 2023.
Speakers included Judy Ling Wong, Dan Lockton, Indy Johar, Sadie Morgan, Freya Murray, Claire Wilcox, Jayden Ali and many more.
The fourth edition of London Design Biennale will take place 1 - 25 June at Somerset House.
This edition’s Artistic Director is the Nieuwe Instituut, the Netherlands’ national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture, led by General and Artistic Director, Aric Chen. The theme of ‘The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations’ sees the Nieuwe Instituut experimenting with the Biennale’s format of national and territorial pavilions by asking participants not only to explore themes of collaboration, but to collaborate with each other with the help of an online game.
‘The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations‘ prompts and encourages participants to find new ways of partnering with each other.
London Design Biennale takes place at London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community, Somerset House. Built on historic foundations, the location is situated in the very heart of the capital.