London Design Biennale 2018 to explore design’s impact on emotional wellbeing

“We want to bring together countries to look at design’s important role in the big emotive issues of our time,” says festival director.

© Ed Reeve

‘Emotional States’ has been announced as the theme of the 2018 London Design Biennale, chosen due to emotions’ “universal” ability to “transcend borders” across the 40 participating countries.

According to Dr Christopher Turner, director of the London Design Biennale, the theme was also inspired by recent political events including “[Donald] Trump, Brexit, the near rise of Le Pen.” He says: “We hope that the Biennale will provide a useful global perspective.

“Increasingly, politicians have been paying attention to emotions as indicators of wellbeing, commissioning surveys of intangible feelings that escape economic indicators like GDP. How can architects and designers contribute to this debate, by creating the positive conditions for human flourishing?”

India’s installation at London Design Bienniale 2016. Photography by Ed Reeves.

Next year’s event will be the second London Design Biennale, and will run from 4 – 23 September 2018 at Somerset House. It will display installations from international designers and architects, and museums from around the world including the V&A, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, MAK and Triennale Museum will also be curating installations.

“Design is such a good lens through which to investigate the world,” says Turner. “We take a very broad definition of design and, at the Biennale, we want to bring together countries to look at design’s important role in the big emotive issues of our time.”

He adds: “However, we’re not naive evangelists, who think that design can solve all the world’s problems, bringing about universal happiness. For every problem designers solve, it seems that more are created and we hope that countries will explore the full spectrum of emotional experience, from anger to joy, sadness to disgust, to create visceral and immersive experiences that explore a particular country’s design story.”  

The inaugural London Design Biennale in 2016 saw 37 countries and territories from six continents take part. Designers for last year’s event created work drawing on the theme Utopia by Design, in conjunction with Somerset House’s broader Utopia season that marked the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s text Utopia.

© Bradley Lloyd Barnes
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