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Large Sized Aerial Being| © Yasuhiro Suzuki
Large Sized Aerial Being| © Yasuhiro Suzuki
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Designer Yasuhiro Suzuki At London Design Biennale 2016

Picture of Gabriella Kane
Updated: 26 August 2016
Brought to Somerset House by the same team as The London Design Festival, the first London Design Biennale opens on September 7th. With a distinct international flavour, it showcases the best design talent in the world, with installations and exhibitions from over 30 countries.

Commissioned by the Japan Foundation is designer Yasuhiro Suzuki, who will represent his home country at the inaugural London Design Biennale. His collection of work addresses this year’s Biennale theme, ‘Utopia by Design’. With great skill in re-envisioning the ordinary as extraordinary, Suzuki uses everyday subject matter – a clock, an apple, a zipper – to discover new relationships between things that would never normally encounter each other, connecting ‘here and now’, with ‘somewhere and sometime’.

Compass of Japanese Islands | © Yasuhiro Suzuki
Compass of Japanese Islands | © Yasuhiro Suzuki

Approaching the ordinary from a fresh perspective, he transforms ordinary things into a masterful and highly inventive work of art. We’re not kidding about the zipper either – for the Setouchi International Art Festival in 2010, he created a full-sized motorboat, designed to resemble a giant zip.

What did the theme ‘Utopia by Design’, which was chosen for the festival in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s classic, mean to Suzuki? A vessel of ideas, he interpreted ‘Utopia’ as ‘another place that isn’t here’, questioning the way in which we view the world around us and perceive everyday life. It aligns with how he sees design, ‘as something that shows people living in the current age how to move forward like a compass that is continually renewed in each time and place’.

Indeed, Thomas More’s radical ‘Utopia’, the title coined from Greek for ‘no place’ and ‘nowhere’, places importance on dreaming in the now, and how by imagining that a better world is possible, we are empowered to create it. In looking to the wider world and interrogating the history and complexities of the Utopian idea and the concept of engineering the present and the future, design has a role in addressing some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

Japan Untitled © Yasuhiro Suzuki
Japan Untitled | © Yasuhiro Suzuki

Suzuki’s installation, featuring a spatial structure made up of objects of various sizes, drawings and animations, will present ‘A Journey Around The Neighbourhood Globe’ – a world that exists as a world beneath our feet and as an image in our heads. It advocates the importance of shifting our focus from our own place (everyday life) and considering the wider world, transgressing dichotomies such as inside and outside, before and after, and part and whole.

The collection’s curator, Noriko Kawakami comments that ‘this reminds us how important it is to examine, imagine and consider what lies between familiar and unfamiliar societies while also suggesting how important it is to experience a world that we were not previously aware of.’

The role of design has an important part to play in our collective futures. You are invited to be a part of it, and take a journey around the ‘Neighbourhood Globe’.

Napping Traveller | © Yasuhiro Suzuki
Napping Traveller | © Yasuhiro Suzuki

London Design Biennale will run from September 7th-26th 2016, at Somerset House.

Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, UK, +44 20 7845 4600