London Design Biennale 2018

Polish Pavilion

From the 4th to the 23rd of September 2018, the Somerset House hosted London Design Biennale. Its theme this year was Emotional States, and participants from six continents, 40 countries, cities and territories illustrated how design can challenge, delight, educate and surprise.



Emotional States has been chosen to provoke a broad interpretation across design disciplines, with immersive and engaging installations that interrogate how design affects every aspect of our lives – the way we live and how we live – but also influences our very being, emotions and experiences.



One of the 40 countries was Poland, it’s exhibition, titled A Matter of Things, presents everyday items, from a telephone to a string of toilet paper rolls, and explores why they resonate so strongly in the Polish psyche.


Poland – London Design Biennale credits


Poland’s installation displays objects that appear meaningless but are loaded with emotional weight. Ten objects have been selected that are strongly connected to emotionally charged events in recent Polish history. They range from a manhole, a symbol of the Warsaw Uprising, during which the sewer network was vital for moving Resistance troops and equipment – to a camp bed, which as a makeshift shop counter came to embody the black-market boom of the 1990s. Each object is presented as a generic model, given the status of a cultural symbol. They are reminiscent of prototypes awaiting the final touches, such as texture, material and colour. Moodboards put these objects into historical context, combining comic- book-style drawings, archival photographs and still. The curator hopes the exhibit will spark interest in Polish history and the ways in which we use emotions, stories and objects to illustrate these events and highlight how increasingly necessary it is to decrypt the meaning of things in order to be familiar with the cultural codes of a given community or nation.
The exhibition received the honourable mention award.



Walking through the exhibitions, the congestion around the Polish exhibition became apparent. The cowed moves into a dance between the objects, the visitors engaged with it, read the boards their faces expressing emotions – from sadness to laughter.
This exhibition made the most memorable impression on me, with components of learning, emotional experience and thoughts, that’s stay with you long after you have left the exhibition space – like only a powerful design/art can.

Ai Weiwei – Royal Academy of Arts – London

If you have plans to go to London until the end of the week, to visit Winter Wonderland or one of the thousands (expensive) Christmas markets spread through the city, well, we suggest you a way more tempting alternative. Until December 13, in fact, the only unmissable event in the capital city of the Kingdom is the Ai Weiwei’s exhibition that takes place at the Royal Academy of Arts, in the crowded Piccadilly.

Until December 13, in fact, the only unmissable event in the capital city of the Kingdom is the Ai Weiwei’s exhibition that takes place at the Royal Academy of Arts, in the crowded Piccadilly.

Ai Weiwei’s reputation precedes him, and nobody knows if he is more famous for his skills as an artist and an architect or for his political and social commitment, commitment that has seen him also incarcerated by the Chinese government for 81 days. No doubt all this peculiarities of him stand out from the retrospective London dedicated to him, the biggest ever realized in the city, even though Ai has already worked in London five years ago for the famous “Sunflower Seeds” installation at the Tate Modern.

The retrospective opens up to the city in every sense: once reached the public courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts, in fact, one collides right away with the Trees installation, made up of eight trees that naturally died in the mountains of southern China. The installation has been funded by a RA Kickstater campaign, that has seen more than 1300 backer and over 100.000 pounds collected.

Una foto pubblicata da Ai Weiwei (@aiww) in data:

Inside the building, the retrospective runs through 11 galleries, each of which greets the guest bluntly, leaving him immediately in front of the current piece of art. Pieces that are often majestic, and always full of meaning. Disarming is the installation, in the third gallery, regarding the 2008 Sichuan earthquake: on the walls we found the names of the children who died in the destroyed schools; on the floor reinforcing steel bars, coming directly from the collapsed structures and illegally recovered by Ai.

Una foto pubblicata da Ai Weiwei (@aiww) in data:

Not less powerful is the series of works in the next gallery, who narrate the sad conclusion of Ai’s studio in Shanghai, asked for by the municipality and then destroyed nearly completed by the government, as a revenge for the extremely critical opinions Ai has had towards it. In a corner takes place the famous installation He Xie, a cascade of river crabs representing dissidence, since the word, meaning both crab and harmonious, is used by the opponents to exemplify how the regime tries to create an harmonious society, deprived of contestants.

He Xie, Ai Weiwei #royalacademyofarts #london #cp_londra

Una foto pubblicata da Francesco Contin (@french295) in data:

The exhibition continues placing the visitor constantly in front of themes such as privacy or perception of measure, until arriving at a realistic representation of Ai’s life in prison, made through eight model portraying real life situations lived by the artist during the incarceration. The spirits are lighten only at the end of the exhibition, where the site – specific installation Bicycle Chandelier stands out, a piece of art realized by Ai expressly for this exhibition.

Bicycle Chandelier #AiWeiwei #royalacademyofarts #london #cp_londra Una foto pubblicata da @bettypav in data:

Therefore, if you happen to be in London in the next few days, you cannot miss this experience. To meet the visitors’ needs the Royal Academy is opening up for 56 hours straight during the final weekend: an after party at an art gallery has never been so tempting.

Post by Elisabetta Paviotti (? @BettyPav)