Yesterday we visited the first London Design Biennale with over 30 countries from six continents presenting newly commissioned works that explore the theme Utopia by Design - a nod towards the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's text.
In all honesty we felt there was some great thinking behind some of the pieces that are being presented but you have to wade through some pretty 'challenging' stuff to get those moments of delight among the chaos.
One of our favourites is the 'Wish Tree' from Turkey. This contemporary and interactive piece asks you to put a wish inside a capsule and watch it whizz around transparent pneumatic tubes, that flow along the West Wing of Somerset House. It represents the profound hope embodied by mass migration.
The Japanese contribution was probably the most dreamlike entry, representing the surreal work of Yasuhiro Suzuki. Glass spoons that measure time, a compass in the shape of a Japanese archipelago and a glass gun-shaped eye dropper was created because "your hand shakes in hesitation applying eyedrops, like when you point a gun at yourself". Suzuki says he wants you leave leave this exhibition with a different view on everyday objects.
South Africa celebrates liberation and playfulness as fitting statements of a country reborn from a convoluted, visceral history. Porky Hefer has designed a series of hanging nests in the form of animals, into which you can climb and dream of owning one of these stunning pieces. A representation of stunning craft which evokes that smile in the mind.
A favourite with our daughter was the Spanish exhibit, which included an immersive 360-degree virtual reality film. It imagines how medium-sized towns of the future could harness new technology to improve a sustainable future. Frankly she was more impressed with the 'funny mirror' that multiplied the image of mama and papa ;-)
Overall the exhibition was a little jumbled in terms of format but it definitley had it's highlights. Somerset House is an impressive backdrop in itself and definitely worth a visit for the stunning architecture. We can't wait to return at Christmas for London's favourite outdoor ice rink ;-)