The London Design Biennale opened at Somerset House with hundreds of trees in the venue’s courtyard forming a “Forest for Change” as the event explored climate, health, inequality and other crises of our time.
The exhibition, the first large-scale international cultural gathering in the city since pandemic restrictions eased, will run for three weeks with pavilions showcasing groundbreaking designs from countries and communities around the world, including the African Diaspora and Antarctica.
The “Forest for Change” was designed by Es Devlin, artistic director of the Biennale, and is an interactive installation to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Global Goals. The idea was to “counter this attitude of human dominance over nature, by allowing a forest to overtake the entire courtyard,” Devlin is quoted as saying on the event’s website.
“We now know we have to live with nature, so by bringing a forest into the heart of the courtyard, we’re presenting that idea very, very clearly,” the biennale’s director, Victoria Broackes, told Reuters.
The Antarctica pavilion highlights the breaking off of the Larsen B ice shelf and use of algorithms to rebuild the icebergs through the use of artificial intelligence while Guatemala reflects on water usage with a sound installation.
On the river terrace outside, American designer Ini Archibong’s Pavilion of the African Diaspora takes the form of an arched shelter inspired by the shape of a cowrie shell, for centuries a currency in Africa. The structure will serve as an innovative multi-use educational and event facility.
“The structural folly of the PoAD is a symbolic gateway to the past, present, and future in the exploration of Reparations + Representations = Repair & Resonance to energise our sail and carry us on our continued journey onward,” according to the Biennale’s website.