Purposeful Design

Purposeful Design

By emphasising the importance of design for the development of society, the second London Design Biennale, hosted by Somerset House, invites an array of global practitioners to explore the importance of a collective consciousness. This year’s theme is entitled Emotional States and questions how various acts of creativity impact everyday scenarios and the course of an individual’s life. By underlining the importance of sustainability, equality and innovative solutions, the event examines how international connections are necessary for engaging with creatives located across six continents.

The UK’s entry comprises a collaborative effort, shaped by the V&A, London, and independent research agency Forensic Architecture. Centred on the ongoing violence occurring within Sinjar, Iraq, the work explores an alienated social climate, asking how war crimes and the War on Terror are understood on a personal, national and global level. Not only disrupting the daily lives of millions of people, an assault on the natural environment is also witnessed, leading to grave poverty, marginalised identities and a sense of abandonment.

When starting this work, the artistic organisations enlisted the assistance of the local Yazidi people, instructing them to preserve evidence of genocide, enslavement and destruction, perpetrated by Daesh (Islamic State). 3D models of the derelict sites will be constructed, utilising aerial photography, photogrammetry and the training materials, including kites, plastic bottles and helium balloons, which were used by the volunteers. The work not only acts as a valuable piece of visual data, uncovering the importance of technology for documentation, but also explores how design can unify a variety of people.

Further immersive and engaging installations contributed by a variety of territories such as Argentina, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia will build on this assertion, offering new insights into how creative practice can express and aid challenging socio-political topics including migration, civic responsibility and pollution. Matter to Matter, presented by Variant Studio, Latvia, features in the exhibition and acts as an example of these complicated tropes, evolving into a meditative space which facilitates individual and collective negotiations. A large, emerald screen is covered with a thin shield of condensation, allowing diverse audiences to doodle on the watery surface, reconnecting with nature and leaving a trace for future visitors. The installation investigates what will become of the future, showcasing environmentally-focused, responsible design which has a progressive, social undertone.

Somerset House, London. 4 September – 23 September. Find out more here.

1. ‘Forensic Architecture. Towards an Investigative Aesthetics’ at Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona.