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London Design Biennale: Much to see from Uganda’s Bidi Bidi, Dubai’s And Beyond to Virtual Congo and Nigeria’s Natural Synthesis

London Design Biennale: Much to see from Uganda’s Bidi Bidi, Dubai’s And Beyond to Virtual Congo and Nigeria’s Natural Synthesis

London Design Biennale is an interactive, musical and kinetic exhibition of design and design-led innovation from across the globe. Established in 2016 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, London Design Biennale promotes international collaboration and the global role of design with exhibitions and installations that demonstrate the ambition to create universal solutions to problems which concern us all.

The theme for 2023 is The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations and is taking place at Somerset House 1-25 June 2023.

The Bidi Bidi Pavilion

The Bidi Bidi Music & Arts Centre in northern Uganda’s Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement aims to reframe the narrative around what it means to be a refugee. Currently under construction, the new building is the result of an interdisciplinary collaborative project led by, a platform operating in venture capital, philanthropy and the creative space, in collaboration with the Bidi Bidi community, international architecture practice Hassell, Kampala design studio LocalWorks, and global engineers Arup. The pavilion features prototypes, mock-ups and videos related to the project.

Design Team:

Nachson Mimran

Xavier De Kestelier

Abu Dhabi – Formation of Soof

Al-Sadu is a traditional weaving technique practiced by Bedouin women in the United Arab Emirates, using the wool of sheep, camels & goats. This craft, inscribed onto the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2011, will be the centre point of the immersive installation. The pavilion celebrates the importance of the technique and the flow of movement that allows the transformation from a raw soft material into the Sadu textile that is architecturally fundamental to the building of traditional tent structures.

Curatorial team House of Artisans:

Azza Alsharif

Zeina Barto

Reem Alhosani

Shamma Al Mansoori

Exhibition design:


Giampiero Sanguigni

Dubai: And Beyond

‘And Beyond’ transports visitors from Dubai’s ancient camel caravans to the futuristic Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe, exploring the power of human connection through immersive design and storytelling. Visitors can experience the evolution of collaboration in Dubai at ‘And beyond’. Drawing inspiration of global collaborations, MULA’s design juxtaposes two seemingly disparate moments in history, united by the ingenuity of human collaboration.

Curator and Exhibition Design:

Abdalla Almulla

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Virtual Congo

The pavilion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reimagines the country’s national museum as a vivid virtual world, offering visitors a futuristic digital experience which brings central Africa’s diverse and dynamic cultures to life. The DRC pavilion presents the MNRDC in vivid virtual reality. Connecting physical and digital dimensions, the pavilion plunges visitors into a pageant of African culture and brings the powerful Congo spirit to life.

Designers and Curators:

Didier Demif

Sam Williams

Marise Aoun

India : Chowk & Charpai – An Urban Living Room

The Indian pavilion is a multi-sensory evocation of the essence of a contemporary Indian city chowk–  an open market at the junction of streets – through the visual metaphor of a charpai  a traditional woven daybed found across India. The charpai is a design icon that transcends time, and its weave is representative of Indian craft. Its versatility expresses “Indianness” with its plurality of use. In essence, the charpai is a micro chowk in itself – a place for conversations and collaborations.


Sourabh Gupta

Harsh Chauhan

Nigeria : Natural Synthesis

‘Natural Synthesis’ invites visitors into a classic Nigerian courtyard scene to contemplate the nature of collaboration and conflict. This tactile pavilion presents an innovative collection of hand moulded fibreglass lounge chairs, exploring an intercontinental exchange between two great natural systems: the Amazon and the Sahara. ‘Natural Synthesis’ is the product of The Nigerian Design Group LTD – a collaborative non-for-profit whose purpose is to promote Nigerian Art and Design as a means of fostering national unity, collective identity and prosperity.

Designer & Curator:

Omotunwase Osinaike

Saudi Arabia : Woven

‘Woven’ is a collaborative installation where the future is interwoven with the fabric of humanity. Originating in the delicate hands of powerful women in the Arabian desert practising the artisanship of Al Sadu – the ‘Saddayah’ weaves humble materials into textiles. The installation simulates the artisanship of Al Sadu – a traditional weaving technique performed by women using a simple and portable loom before which they gather to socialise, work together, and alternate roles to support each other.

Designers and Curators:

Ruba Alkhaldi

Lojain Rafaa

See Also

Japan : The future is rural

In a collaborative project between the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield and artists in Japan, traditional offerings have been made to the God of Makers by families and children. These can be found in a room painted by Japanese artists with non-toxic ink made of foraged coal, an industrial material historically meaningful to the UK audience. Two 3D Rubbish rabbit mascots made from recycled plastic guard the room to ensure that no-one litters and a Japanese graphic novel, or manga book, tells visitors their story.


Yuki Sumner

Artists (Japan):

Ryo Okamoto

Katsunobu Yoshida + Ayuko Inaba

Tatsuhiro Ara + Natsuko Ara

Taiwan : Visible Shop

Through the creation of a ‘Visual Shop’, the Taiwan pavilion celebrates the country’s unique economy of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are full of vitality, movement and creativity. Including a metal supply area and ‘workshop,’ the installation showcases the collaborative nature of industries in Taiwan which are all individual and depict the diversity of the location.


Ling-Li Tseng

Chia-Shu Wang

Hsien Chen

Chung-Han Yao

Jui-Pin Tseng

Ling-Wei Chang

South Korea : Virtuous Garden

An installation of a traditional Korean pavilion will form the physical element in the project. Here, audiences will be able to sit or lie down for their retreat while listening to Geomungo music and watching the film Shadow of the bamboo. Inside the pavilion will be a floor made of reclaimed wood, showcasing physical and virtual platforms for ecological inspiration within a circular economy, reusing waste and minimising resources. The map of ‘Virtuous Garden’ recalls Korean gardens from 500 years ago and the virtual elements of the design bring Korean nature to the heart of London. Imagine a pavilion within a pavilion, a culture within a culture, life within life, human within nature, coexisting, interdependent and collaborating.


Jung Jin Song

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