Utopia is the theme of the first ever London Design Biennale at Somerset House - a new annual and showcase of international design. And it's a triumph. This extravaganza, which has taken over the whole of the site, gives the Venice Architecture Biennale a run for its money.
500 years after Thomas More wrote his bombastic novel Utopia, the most influential designers on the world stage have come together to explore the Big Questions. Sustainability, migration, pollution, energy, urbanisation and social equality. In design terms that means how engineering and design can respond to the utopian ideal, answer the deep rooted issues that humanity faces and provoke change.
In classic Biennale fashion, each country has their own installation. It takes a while to see them all - so leave yourself a couple of hours, and maybe pop to one of the many fabulous restaurants halfway through to combat fatigue. It's honestly worth seeing everything: this exhibition is a fascinating look at humanity, that will move even the most design-phobic of visitors.
There's a lot to see - 37 different countries have pitched in. Make sure you head to France's installation, which is centred around Syrian refugees. The installation, entitled The Astounding Eyes of Syria, aims to preserve the memories of those displaced by war.
There is an 18 minute film (and a very comfy sofa) - bring tissues, it's sort of a heartbreaker. In the next room, there is a vending machine, selling packets of sweets in the shape of an Assyrian idol. The sweets are delicious - they taste of roses - and all the proceeds go to educating refugees.
Don't miss Eatopia either, Achitect Rain Wu and designer Shikai Tseng have teamed up with chef Chung-Ho Tsai to create a utopian dining experience for Taiwan's offering. You walk into what looks and sounds like a forest - complete with twittering birds and running water.The culinary installation aims to present Taiwan as a melting pot of cultural identities that is reflected in the nation's design output.
Somerset House is expecting 100,000 visitors so make sure you book your ticket early - watch this space on details how.
|What||London Design Biennale 2016|
|Where||Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
07 Sep 16 – 27 Sep 16, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more details|