Virtual Design Festival

Istanbul Design Biennial announces new dates and revised programme in live VDF talk

Istanbul Design Biennial curator Mariana Pestana and director Deniz Ova have set out their revised plans for this year's event in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic during a live interview as part of Virtual Design Festival.

Originally scheduled to start in September, the biennial will now run from 15 October to 15 November and will feature a programme designed for local and online audiences to experience safely.

Speaking live to Dezeen's founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, Pestana and Ova explained the theme of its fifth edition, Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one.

Live talk about the fifth edition of Istanbul Design Biennial as part of Virtual Design Festival
The curator of the fifth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, architect Mariana Pestana, will take part in a live Screentime conversation about the event

This focuses on how design can embed care and empathy into the world and will be explored through a programme of digital projects, physical exhibitions and participatory events.

"Working collaboratively with designers, artists, architects, activists and thinkers, the biennial explores designs for multiple bodies, dimensions, and perspectives," the organisers explained.

"The projects that the biennial presents encourage us to rethink practices of care and civility at this critical moment in time, and to collectively build new systems and structures for reconnecting."

The biennial will be centred around three groups of content starting with a weekly virtual cooking programme called the Critical Cooking Show.

Live talk about the fifth edition of Istanbul Design Biennial as part of Virtual Design Festival
The director of the biennial, Deniz Ova, will also join the talk

Premiering on the 15 October, each episode will be hosted by different practitioners and thinkers within the field, who will explore the connections between food and ecology, economics and geopolitics.

The programme will also include a physical exhibition at Istanbul's cultural centre ARK Kültür called Library of Land and Sea, showing work and research initiatives from designers and thinkers investigating our relationship with agriculture and food production.

"Driven by research, care and activism, these practices use design in an imaginative way to rethink territories through our relationship with soil and water, in order to reveal the less visible networks of food production," the organisers said.

The biennial also offers a programme of participatory outdoor events at the Pera Museum and several other sites across Istanbul entitled New Civic Rituals.

Organised together with the Young Curators Group, the programme is designed to bring people together following the coronavirus pandemic, through events such as communal cooking, gardening and public discussions as well as a programme of film screenings titled Empathy Sessions.

"These projects have a restorative function, providing experiences of being together, reconnecting, and caring for the city and its multiple inhabitants," the organisers said.

The biennial has invited a roster of international designers, thinkers and architects to take part in the event. These include Virtual Design Festival collaborators Nelly Ben Hayoun and Lucy McRae, as well as South African architecture firm Counterspace, among others.

Founded in 2012, the Turkish Design Biennial is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, supported by the Republic of Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism and sponsored by ceramics company VitrA.

It has has previously been curated by figures such as the creative director of Design Academy Eindhoven Joseph Grima in 2012, writer and critic Zoë Ryan in 2014, architectural historians Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley in 2016 and design critic Jan Boelen in 2018.

Pestana, who was chosen in 2019 to curate the fifth edition of the event, has previously curated exhibitions such as Eco Visionaries, which premiered at the MAAT in Lisbon and last year travelled to the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

She has also been the curator of exhibitions at the V&A in London and ArkDes in Stockholm, Sweden.

About Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival runs from 15 April to 10 July 2020. It brings the architecture and design world together to celebrate the culture and commerce of our industry, and explore how it can adapt and respond to extraordinary circumstances.

To find out what's coming up at VDF, check out the schedule. For more information or to join the mailing list, email [email protected]