London Design Biennale 2020

8-27 September 2020, Somerset House  
Tickets on sale 12 February

12 February 2020, London, UK -  Up to 50 countries, territories and cities will exhibit at the third edition of London Design Biennale, at Somerset House, this autumn. They will respond to Artistic Director Es Devlin's call to action: how can design provide solutions to the major crises of our time? 

The exhibition will provide a borderless arena for global collaboration and exchange between participants and audiences from Chile to France, Pakistan to Ghana, Hong Kong to Israel, Poland to Indonesia. Geographically, economically and politically diverse, participants will explore how design can be harnessed to secure our collective futures. Taking over the entirety of Somerset House, London Design Biennale highlights the vital role of design in addressing challenges and providing solutions.  There has never been a more vital moment to bring the world together in a spirit of positivity to respond to the major issues we face today: from climate change and migration, to international collaboration, policy making and communication.   

Theme: Resonance

Award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin OBE has been named as the Artistic Director, and revealed the 2020 theme of Resonance which considers the ripple effect of ground-breaking design concepts on the way we live, and the choices we make. Further to the 2019 London Design Biennale Summit at Google, Devlin has also charged participating designers to reflect on urgent social and environmental challenges that are visible now, and that lie ahead.

Global Concepts 

Tackling sustainability and economic viability, Venezuela's pavilion will investigate the possibilities of new raw materials - avocado seeds - in place of economic reliance on fossil fuels. Austria will focus on the essential task of climate 'care' and the possibilities artificial intelligence may open to make us a climate-conscious species; while Pakistan will consider notions of displacement through the elaborate stonework of Pietra Dura, as practiced by Afghan migrants who have brought the ancient artisan technique with them.  India will bring together grass-roots experiments by communities and individuals from across the country to create a new ecological commitment that addresses the rapidly collapsing eco-system of India's booming cities.  

In response to increased global migration patterns and the situation on its northern border with the US, Mexico consider the growing diaspora through the story of the monarch butterfly, known for its multi-generational southward migration from the USA to central America in early autumn. The labyrinthine presentation hopes to create a dialogue about human migration in response to climate change. Israel will explore the perpetual tension between globalisation and nationalism, how they overlap and contradict each other in an installation.

The impact of historic design choices and narratives, and their role in international dialogue, will also be in evidence. The pavilion of Hong Kong will be a portal to 2047 as shaped by the territory’s role in the exchange of global ideas and aesthetics; while the pavilion of Ghana will envisage the design of Denmark House - now Somerset House - in London, had colonialism never taken place. Norway have applied inclusive design within legislation across the public and private sectors, and will demonstrate how this enables societal collaborations, meets local community needs and can achieve sustainable change. France will present a concept on behavioural design inspired by Marcel Proust’s novel Swann’s Way, exploring how, through ASMR, we are able to revive or create incredible memories.

The initial selection of countries, territories and cities confirmed to participate are Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

International Advisory Committee and Jury

London Design Biennale has also today confirmed the 2020 International Advisory Committee and Jury, who are responsible for awarding the Biennale Medals to the most significant contributions. The 2020 International Advisory Committee and Jury members are as follows, who will join Victoria Broackes, Es Devlin OBE, Ben Evans CBE and Sir John Sorrell CBE:

  • Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture & Design and Director, Research & Development, MOMA, New York
  • Aric Chen, Curator, Design Miami
  • Nipa Doshi, Co-Founder, Doshi Levien
  • Waldick Jatoba, Artistic Director and Curator, MADE, Sao Paolo
  • Suhair Khan, Google UK & Ireland
  • James Lingwood MBE, Co-Director, Artangel
  • Professor Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Professor of Design, RCA
  • Jonathan Reekie CBE, Director, Somerset House Trust
  • Dr Christopher Turner, Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital, V&A
  • Marva Griffin Wilshire, Founder and Curator, SaloneSatellite and International Press Director, Salone del Mobile.Milano

Artistic Director, Es Devlin OBE said: “I have been blown away by the breathtaking range of ideas that have flooded in from designers, thinkers and makers from all over the planet. There’s a sense of urgency and energy within the proposals and the cross-continental conversations that are getting underway and will converge in London this September.”

Victoria Broackes, Director, London Design Biennale, said: “In September 2020 London Design Biennale will bring people, visionary ideas and discourse together from across the globe to consider how design and creativity can shape our future.  The Biennale will throw open its doors to our audience, young and old, Londoners and visitors, expert and generalist, and offer thought-provoking and life-enhancing creativity from all over the world to inspire international exchange, positive thinking and action.”

London Design Biennale was established by the founders of London Design Festival, Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, to present world-class design thinking from every corner of the globe and to interrogate current design practice: highlighting its role to better our lives. The 2018 London Design Biennale welcomed the world’s most exciting and ambitious designers, innovators and cultural bodies to the capital with over 200,000 visitors to Somerset House over the three-week period.

Tickets go on sale today:

ENDS   -

For further information please contact: Brunswick Arts | Annabel Hoyng - van der Meijden / Katie Campbell: +44 207 936 1290 |

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About London Design Biennale

Established in 2016 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, London Design Biennale is a prestigious biannual event and a highlight on the global cultural calendar. The 2018 Biennale welcomed the world’s most exciting and ambitious designers, innovators and cultural bodies to the capital with over 200,000 visitors to Somerset House over the three-week period.  The third edition of London Design Biennale, 8-27 September 2020, will be curated by Artistic Director Es Devlin. Taking over the entirety of Somerset House, including the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court and River Terrace, participants will respond to the theme, Resonance.  

London Design Biennale's International Advisory Committee and Jury includes: Ms Paola Antonelli, Ms Victoria Broackes, Mr Aric Chen, Es Devlin, Ms Nipa Doshi, Mr Ben Evans CBE, James Lingwood MBE, Professor Jeremy Myerson, Jonathan Reekie CBE, Dr. Christopher Turner, Ms Suhair Khan, Sir John Sorrell CBE, Ms Marva Griffin Wilshire and Mr Waldick Jatoba. 

About Es Devlin OBE

Es Devlin OBE practises across the worlds of art, opera, music and technology. She is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse technology and poetry. Her luminous fluorescent red Please Feed The Lion sculpture roared AI-generated collective poetry to crowds in Trafalgar Square in September 2018 for London Design Festival. The Singing Tree, a collective choral installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, merged machine-learning with sound and light in 2017. The 2016 Mirrormaze in Peckham, London, and 2017 ROOM 2022 at Miami Art Basel both explored reflective labyrinthine narratives and geometries. Devlin has conceived touring stage sculptures for Beyoncé, U2, The Weeknd, Adele and Kanye West, and collaborated with celebrated theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on an interpretation of his book The Order of Time, read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, at BOLD Peckham in September 2018. Es Devlin has pioneered an artistically and technically ambitious approach to her practice that bridges the gap between audience and performance, often using surface, light, projection and reflection to create dramatic and ambiguous spatial and psychological environments. Devlin’s work was the subject of a documentary in the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design, and she has recently been named winner of the much-coveted commission to design the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The 2020 PoemPavilion will continue to explore the concept of the AI-generated collective poetry first conceived with Hans Ulrich Obrist at London’s Serpentine Galleries in 2017.

About Somerset House

London’s working arts centre

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, we are situated in the very heart of the capital. Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of our times and are committed to oxygenating new work by emerging artists. Where else can you spend an hour ice-skating while listening to a specially commissioned sound piece by a cutting-edge artist?

It is this creative tension – the way we harness our heritage, put the too-often overlooked on our central stage and use our neo-classical backdrop to showcase ground-breaking contemporary culture – that inspires our programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that we are home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is our point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energising, urgent and exciting.