‘Time is Subjective’ — the UAE entry by Tinkah. Image Credit: Supplied

The second edition of London Design Biennale, currently on show at the Somerset House, explores seven emotional states through the eyes of world-class designers.

Anger, Contempt, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness and Surprise: these universal emotions transcend all borders and connect humanity through a common, unspoken language of the ‘feeling’. The London Design Biennale hosts 44 pavilions, each presenting visceral exhibits and experiences that evoke moods and explore the design story of a particular region, country or people.

Presenting their interpretation of the theme at the haloed Somerset House are Hungary, India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Vietnam, among others that include, most topically, a Refugees’ Pavilion.

An installation at the Refugee Pavilion at the London Design Biennale.

The UAE entry by Tinkah, Time is Subjective, explores the tactile nature of passing time and the irony therein. Time flies by in youth, then as one becomes older, it wears the robe of one’s many experiences and wisdom. The installation also salutes the nation’s leadership and people — Emiratis and expats — who continually strive to move the country and our community forward. Proud in its ability to grow faster than any other nation and achieve milestones no one thought possible, the UAE indeed challenges time, and popular misconceptions. Tinkah’s presentation delivers a physical manifestation of time you can almost touch.

Within Better Shelter, winner of the Design Museum’s Design of the Year in 2016 — a structure that unpacks from two cardboard boxes and is easily assembled by four people and a hammer rests the Refugees’ Pavilion. Telling a story of survival through creativity, the installation presents objects that have been designed by displaced communities. A vivid reminder of a real problem that has only grown worse through the decades, the Refugees’ Pavilion looks us squarely in the eyes.

Chosen by an international jury of 14 global design experts and influencers, winners for the three jury categories were announced earlier this week.

The London Design Biennale 2018 Best Design Medal is awarded to the contribution with the most exceptional design. This year, the category was won by Latvia. Designed by Arthur Analts of Variant Studio, the interactive installation consists of a meditative space, in which visitors can explore the relationship between people and nature, as their writings fade into a condensing wall. The installation underscores the country’s long-term focus to create socially responsible and environmentally friendly design that can coexist with nature and its inhabitants.

An installation by Latvian designer Arthur Analts.

Awarded for the most inspiring interpretation of the 2018 theme, the London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal went to the US. Cooper Hewitt’s installation, Face Values, took us to the exciting and intimidating intersection of humanity and technology. The result of utterly fascinating; joyous even. Humans and machines engage in a provocative conversation as live facial data becomes the basis of dynamic graphic images. Visitors are invited to perform emotions and transform identities by interacting with original digital works by R. Luke DuBois and Zachary Lieberman.

Egypt is the recipient of the London Design Biennale 2018 Medal, awarded to the most outstanding overall contribution. Mohammad Al Shahed curates Modernist Indignation. Through the lens of the first Arabic design magazine, the installation mourns the loss of a rapidly disappearing design vocabulary that was once widely loved and celebrated in the country.

As the country’s heritage of modernist architecture lies in ruin — to politics, violence and disregard — the installation asks a question that is becoming a common thread in many regions as we rapidly march into a hyper-industrialised, mindlessly commercialised society: how can a design language that was once embraced by a society be so easily forgotten and denied a place in history?