London Design Biennale 2016: Italy has invited 20 young designers to reinterpret the white flag for its installation at the inaugural London Design Biennale, which opens at Somerset House today (+ slideshow).
The White Flag installation – curated by Silvana Annicchiarico and Giorgio Camuffo from Milan's Triennale Design Museum – imagines a global ceasefire in response to the Biennale theme, Utopia by Design.
Annicchiarico and Camuffo invited 20 young Italian designers and studios to redesign the white flag – traditionally a symbol of surrender or truce. Their designs include a free-roaming stateless flag, a flat-pack kit and another featuring the star symbol from the EU flag cut into a sheepskin.
"The white flag is a symbol of surrender. It speaks in the same language to everyone," said the curators.
"Its meaning is universal. When it appears, it calls for a ceasefire," they added. "Like all utopias, a world of surrender also yearns for something unattainable."
One flag will disappear after each day of the show to represent the fragility of ceasefire – and also utopia – and will be replaced by an object of the designer's choice. On the final day of the Biennale on 27 September, there will be no flags left.
For the installation, Simone Simonelli and Giulia Cavazzani of Associato Misto came up with a flat-pack flag kit that reduces the flag to a series of meaningless components, while Francesca Lanzavecchia of Lanzavecchia + Wai affixed two flags to a see-saw-like structure for her piece, Equilibrium.
Fast Flag by Matteo Cibic is an ever-scrolling banner of QR codes intended to reflect the increasingly fast pace the human brain is forced to process information at.
Stateless, a flag mounted on a robotic base by studio Folder roams freely around the tiled exhibition space, passing over imaginary boarders into the territory of other flags. It is intended to highlight our right to the freedom of movement, as states in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Both Studio Gionata Gatto and Zanellato/Bortotto chose to create fold-up designs. The former can be converted into a boat, and the latter a shelter. Both are intended to highlight the migration routes across the Mediterranean by those fleeing war.
All 37 counties taking part in the Biennale event have been asked to create work under the theme Utopia by Design.
The Biennale will run concurrently with the capital's annual London Design Festival (LDF), which opens later this month. See our top picks of installations and launches at both the London Design Biennial and LDF.
Photography is by Maria Pina Poledda.
Designers: Antonio Aricò, Associato Misto, Marco Campardo, Lorenzo Mason, Cristina Celestino, Matteo Cibic, CTRLZAK Studio, Francesco D'Abbraccio, Folder, Alessandro Gnocchi, Francesca Lanzavecchia, Lucia Massar, Giacomo Moor, Eugenia Morpurgo, Rio Grande, Sovrappensiero Design Studio, Alessandro Stabile, Studio Gionata Gatto, Studio Zanellato/Bortotto, Gio Tirotto, 4P1B Design Studio
Curators: Silvana Annicchiarico, Giorgio Camuffo
Assistant curator: Damiano Gullì