The inaugural London Design Biennale 2016 will be held at Somerset House from 7 to 27 September 2016, bringing design installations and exhibitions from up to 40 of the world’s nations to the heart of the capital.
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The Biennale presents an extraordinary opportunity for countries and representative cities to create design statements that address the 2016 theme, ‘Utopia by Design’. It will provide a prestigious, global stage for the world’s leading contemporary design and design-led innovation, creativity and research.
The presentations will occupy the entirety of Somerset House, including the famous Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Situated on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London, the former royal palace is a world famous cultural centre and is one of London’s most visited attractions with 2.4 million visitors annually.
The Biennale will be run in partnership with Somerset House and is supported by the Mayor of London. An International Advisory Committee and Jury composed of leading figures from design has been appointed and will award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions.
“We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House. 500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.”
— Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the London Design Biennale
“I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of welcoming the world to the London Design Biennale and celebrating the best in global design at Somerset House. Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity – the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”
— Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London
“It’s incredibly exciting to be partnering with the London Design Biennale to bring the best of international design
to London in 2016. We’re obviously delighted that this important new event is to be launched onto the global cultural calendar from Somerset House and that it takes up the important theme of Utopia which we’re exploring in a major year-long season of events across the site in 2016. We look forward to welcoming the Biennale next year.”
— Jonathan Reekie, Director of the Somerset House Trust
“The London Design Biennale will be a place where innovative design concepts are trialled, where research and debate ignite and where important international collaborations and creative partnerships are born. It is collective values such as these that universally position the worldwide Creative Industries sector, with design at its heart, as such a powerful force for social and economic development. I look forward to welcoming the nations and cities of the world as exhibitors for our first exhibition in 2016.”
— Sir John Sorrell, President of the Biennale
The London Design Biennale will be produced by the team who created the London Design Festival. The curated, three-week long Biennale will overlap the Festival, bringing a new international element to London, complementing its citywide programme of commissions and partner events every two years.
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