London Design Biennale 2016

07.09. - 27.09.2016

More than thirty nations from six continents will present exhibitions and installations under the motto “Utopia by Design” at Somerset House in London on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the first publication of “Utopia” by Thomas Morus, a world classic in the discipline of social philosophy.

Commissioned works from the fields of contemporary design, design-oriented innovation, creativity, and research will be presented. The participating countries, which will be represented by leading designers and cultural institutions, will address the most urgent challenges society is currently faced with: sustainability, migration, environmental pollution, general availability of water, and social equality. The London exhibition aims to envisage the role of design in our common future.

Austria will present a specially developed installation by mischer’traxler studio. The Austrian contribution will be curated by Thomas Geisler, Curator Design Collection, MAK Vienna, and organized by Austria Design Net. mischer’traxler studio will create a kinetic light installation entitled LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia.

In its exploration of the theme of utopia, mischer’traxler studio analyses the bipolarity of utopia as a complex construct of individual and social ideals: a fragile system as a balancing act that takes into account the needs of both individuals and crowds. “For us, utopia is an ideal system in which personal freedom is confronted with communal interdependencies, in which ownership needs to be weighed against responsibility, and in which transparency is juxtaposed with privacy,” the duo describes its contribution. All of these forces either converge in an ideal moment of equilibrium or destabilize the system and cause it to collapse. History is full of examples in which well-meant utopias gravitated towards catastrophic dystopias.

Their site-specific installation in Somerset House will fill a gallery space of around 35 to 40 sq meters. mischer’traxler studio will work with the metaphor of a mobile for its utopian model of an “ideal system” simultaneously responding to the historical ambience of the space. The delicately balanced pendant object will reach its maximum luminosity when in perfect equilibrium. Each and every movement occurring in the room, whether initiated by visitors or other unpredictable elements, such as a draft of air, will transform the object’s shape and brilliance. The ambitious plan of an installation that interacts with the audience as well as its environment can only be realised with the highest standard of “craftsmanship” in terms of computational technology, artistic and aesthetic concept, and manufacturing. Their contribution seeks to communicate and present Austrian design ideals, bringing the thematic discourse together with tradition and innovation.

Moreover, the poetic and playful nature of LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia relies on design’s essential and increasingly important role as an intercultural mediator.

Curators: Thomas Geisler (Design Kurator MAK Vienna) & mischer’traxler studio (Design Team)
Location: Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA, United Kingdom

Further information: London Design Vienna 2016 and mischer’traxler studio.


Press comments (in German):

Trend – das Wirtschaftsmagazin, Sep. 2016:
“Österreich wird vom Designerduo Katharina Mischer und Thomas Traxler vertreten, die im Somerset House eine kinetische Lichtinstallation zeigen, die die Zerbrechlichkeit von Utopie zum Thema hat. Die Designer, die seit über 13 Jahren zusammenarbeiten, beschäftigen sich dabei mit Utopie als Balanceakt zwischen individuellen und gesellschaftlichen Idealen”.

Börsen-Kurier, Österreichs Wochenzeitung für Finanz und Wirtschaft, 2016:
“Österreichs wichtigste Design- und Kreativwirtschaftsinstitutionen (austria design net) organisieren 2016 die Teilnahme von österreichischem Design. (…) So gestaltet das “mischer’traxler studio” (das Katharina Mischer und Thomas Traxler) für die erste London Design Biennale 2016 die kinetische Lichtinstallation “Level: the fragile balance of utopia”, welche die Zerbrechlichkeit von Utopien zum Thema haben.”

Wiener Wirtschaft – Die Zeitung der Wirtschaftskammer Wien, 17. Sep. 2016:
“Das Lichtmobile ändert sich durch äußere Einflüsse wie z.B. Interaktion mit dem Publikum und zeige so die Fragilität von Systemen, erklärt Traxler. Organisiert wird der österreichische Beitrag von austria design net. An der London Design Biennale werden mehr als 30 Nationen aus sechs Kontinenten teilnehmen. Anlass für das Thema ist das 500-Jahr-Jubiläum der Erstveröffentlichung des philosophischen Werks “Utopia” von Thomas Morus.”





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