Days Out


London Design Biennale arrives at Somerset House

Here's what we have taken away from the exhibition.

Find tickets here

Standing proud in the heart of London, Somerset House finds itself transformed by visionaries from across more than forty-five different countries, cities and communities for London Design Biennale 2018.

Set to open its doors to visitors throughout September 2018, the exhibition is both a celebration of the global community and an international competition. At the end of the run an International Jury will award various exhibitors with medals, with visitors also able to choose their overall favourite.

And there’s much to choose from. Visitors are immediately welcomed by a looming seventeen metre long kinetic wall, provided by Greece. The moving structure takes on the theme of disobedience, inviting people to walk through its core as it unexpectedly contorts.

The structure lays the scene for a vibrant mix of culture, with architects, artists, scientists and many more interpreting the ‘Emotional States’ theme in various ways. Structures range from educational and informative to interactive and practical. The concept of emotion is stretched to its very limits.

Many are thought-provoking or cleverly provocative. The UK’s entry showcases both new technology and the cultural impact thereof while attempting to bring ISIS to justice. Poland’s A Matter Of Things turns seemingly meaningless objects into something altogether more powerful.

A large proportion of exhibitors choose to bring their message to life in atypical ways. A trip through Mongolia isn’t complete without delving into a massive batch of cashmere wool, while Latvia present an ever changing condensation wall which allows audiences to draw their message before it gradually fades. Both carry with them a story of origin, and a sense of national identity.

Never is this idea of identity more exposed than in the Puerto Rican entry. Visitors are asked to pick five images from the walls which they relate to most, the result being a unique personalised t-shirt to take home.

Outside the vast space of Somerset House lies a tranquil getaway, courtesy of Lebanon. The oasis on the side of the Thames secludes visitors from the everyday sounds of the city, presenting the idea of silence as a privilege. As with other exhibits, such as the self-sustainable greenhouse of the Dutch entry, there are global practical implications. The idea is to implement the perfectly isolating space in underprivileged communities across the globe.

In the dark underbelly of Somerset House lies Pakistan and their visceral celebration of the role of women in the cotton industry, adjacent to a suitably eerie selection of fabrics. Hong Kong presents a unique scratch and sniff wallpaper setup, with the United Arab Emirates investigate the relationship between time and emotion, ultimately discovering that both are entirely subjective.

Australia celebrates free love, a theme mirrored in Hungary’s interactive Kiss In Budapest, while Canada invites you to the towns built quite physically on emotion.

Together, London Design Biennial an exhibition like none other; thoughtful, sensory and immersive. Each space is filled with new visions from across the globe, and as the theme suggests, invites audiences to discover their own emotional reactions.

London Design Biennale is now running at Somerset House. Tickets are available through

Images courtesy of London Design Biennale