What is the London Design Biennale: Everything You Need to Know

London Design Biennale

Established in 2016, by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, the third edition of the London Design Biennale 2021 commenced on June 1, 2021. It ended with a positive note on June 27th at the historic Somerset Palace.

The London Design Biennale (LBD) is a global design event bringing together the world’s most enthusiastic and talented designers. Additionally, it helps curate, collaborate and support ground-breaking designs through exhibitions and installations. LDB 2021 was indeed one of the major global events to take place after the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown in London.

The theme for this edition of LDB was ‘Resonance’, “which considers the ripple effect of ground-breaking design concepts on the way we live, and the choices we make”. At least 29 countries from around the world showcased their design in keeping with the theme. Mind-boggling concepts such as the Butterfly Effect of all creations and destructions of the world were on display.

The Spirit Behind LDB: Indomitable Power of Design

The second edition of the LDB, which took place in 2018, had celebrated eye-catching global innovators and their designs. This further amplified the expectations from the 2021 edition.

The curators of the LDB 2021 believe in the immense power of design, especially in the prevailing digital era. This is because their ideas can travel across borders and bridge cultures in an instant. Besides, it can establish positive attitudes in the population towards transforming, evolving and improving universal solutions for solving global challenges.

London Design Biennale Venue: The Forest of Change

The global gathering of the London Design Biennale traditionlly takes place in the historic Somerset Palace. Built in renaissance architectural style, the palace witnessed a one-of-a-kind centerpiece pavilion in its Edmund J Safra fountain court.

Named as the ‘Forest of Change’ or The Global Goals Pavillion, the structure was designed by the Artistic Director of LDB Es Devlin, besides landscape designer Philip Jaffa. The centrepiece houses around 400 trees in the periphery of a circular boundary.

The 17 goals mentioned in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) program are inscribed within this boundary as colourful pillars. Designers call it a ‘Place of Transformation’, raising awareness of the global pillars of sustainability

Somerset Palace, London Design Biennale; Source

Highlights: India’s Small is Beautiful Concept

Nisha Mathew Ghosh, a renowned designer from India, exhibited her ‘Small is Beautiful’ concept at the London Design Biennale 2021. Her design maps different stories of success fuelled by the passion for a Better India. Five looped reels of stories encompassing a multitude of disciplines were on display. All of them indeed came together to create the same futuristic vision of a more resilient nation.

Nisha Matthew’s Proposal for the India Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

Nisha also believes that the exhibition would act as a catalyst to help build ecosystems of collaboration design expertise. Innovators feel encouraged to address the critical needs of the society through design thinking.

Who’s Who: Winning Entries at LDB 2021

Among the 29 participants of the London Design Biennale 2021, winners were selected based on their representation of the theme. Chile, Venezuela, Israel, African Diaspora and Germany bagged rewards in various categories. The medals awarded to winners were designed by Shimmel & Madden, integrating further the concepts of collaboration and harmony among the nations.

Chile: Tectonic Resonances

Chile received the title for the Most Outstanding Overall Contribution. Their pavilion consisted of a series of lithophones extracted from the quarries of Chile, representing how “Tectonic resonances is about the sound of rocks.

Chile Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

These small rocks were the rudimentary form of ancient musical instruments. The main concept was to represent the theme of ‘Resonance’ with an ancestral lithic technology, while also presenting the perspective of time and scale in one.

Venezuela: La Rentrada

Winning the title for the Most Inspiring Interpretation of the Theme Resonance, La Rentrada proposes an economy for a post-petroleum era. Since oil dominates 96% of the economy of Venezuela, La Rentrada inspires us to explore a circular economy of innovation and transformation. It also conveys an important message to its diaspora to reimagine a future economy that is independent of crude oil prices.

Venezuela Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

African Diaspora: PoAD

Conceptualized by the luxury product designer Ini Archibong, and winning the Most Exceptional Design medal, African Diaspora is a conch shaped pavilion. It acts as a sanctuary for people of African descent to come together and also let their voices be heard. 

African Diaspora Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

Israel: The Boiler Room

Boiler room is a space for self-exploration which visualises global and local processes as well as the networks they form and suggests that any imbalance between the two may lead to a boiling point. 

Israel Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

Germany: Spoon Archaeology

The jury decided to give Germany a Special Commendation for representing the theme of Resonance by showcasing disposable plastic cutleries as archaeological artefacts. Inspired by the decision of the European Union to ban the use of single-use plastic, the concept fosters international dialogue towards the world’s biggest global challenges, besides exhibiting the consequences of an economy driven culture. 

Germany Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021; Source

“Design in an Age of Crisis”: Here’s What the London Design Biennale Stands for

Each installation of the London Design Biennale inspires us to commit to a sustainable legacy for the future. The souvenir from the LBD, consisting of a series of finely designed floral printed cards, also remind designers to grow beyond the Biennale and stick to their commitment of a Better World.

The London Design Biennale is indeed one of the most significant global events that celebrate “the importance and universal relevance of design in contemporary life, business and culture; and offers an exceptional opportunity for partners to be represented on a world stage.” As more and more innovators take charge of bettering their surroundings through design thinking, events such as the LDB act as beacons of encouragement and hope for all.

Mehna S
Mehna S

Mehna is a fresh B.arch graduate who who likes to pen down her thoughts and opinions about the ‘Whats and Whys’ of the architectural world.



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