Istanbul Design Biennial questions man's relation with design

Istanbul Design Biennial questions man's relation with design

The third edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, which is set to take place from Oct. 22 to Nov. 20, will take the city under its possession covering a wide range of fields related to design

Preparations for the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, which is jointly sponsored by the ENKA Foundation, Petkim and VitrA under the auspices of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), are continuing in full swing. The biennial will provide an insight into the close relation between "human" and "design" and will be curated by Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley under the theme of "ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of Our Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years." The biennial is open to the public and can be visited free of charge from Oct. 22 to Nov. 20.

The third Istanbul Design Biennial addresses the period of time from the past two seconds to the past 200,000 years. More than 70 projects carried out by designers, architects, artists, historians, archaeologists and scientists from 13 countries will be displayed in five different venues around various parts of Istanbul - Galata Greek Primary School, Studio-X and DEPO in Karaköy, Alt in Bomonti and Istanbul Archelogy Museums in Sultanahmet.

Aiming to rethink the design starting with the beginning of humanity, the biennial consists of four project clusters coinciding one another: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life and Designing Time.

What to expect from the third Istanbul Design Biennial?

The third Istanbul Design Biennial will thoroughly feature the close relation between "human" and "design" under the theme "ARE WE HUMAN?"

The projects to be exhibited in the category of "Designing the Body" embark on a quest to find how the human body itself is constantly restructured in various aspects, from the unique functioning of our hands to the latest researches on the brain. The "Designing the Planet" section offers a series of projects that invite us to rethink about human design in vast territories and ecologies. "Designing Life" examines newly produced forms of mechanical, electronic and biological life and introduces us to a new kind of archelogy spanning from primitive human devices and ornamentation in the earliest times to the social media channels that enable individuals to redesign themselves in as little as two seconds.

Academy Program

As part of the Academy Program, studies jointly conducted by universities and their students in order to bring new initiatives to the biennial's theme and unveil the various aspects of the same theme will meet the audience. Various universities from Turkey and abroad will take part in the program through workshops, exhibitions and seminars to be held at their own campuses.

Creative Neighborhoods Project

The third Istanbul Design Biennial will enable Istanbul's residents to meet design both through exhibition venues and the Creative Neighborhoods project which will give a change to designers and other design professionals to showcase their brands in their own neighborhoods in and around Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Şişli, Eminönü, Kuruçeşme and Sarıyer districts. Many professionals, from small factories to big brands, and from design studios to architecture offices, are gearing up to meet city residents in their own living spaces.

Through the project the audience can experience as a part of their daily lives and the existing design-oriented brands in the city will come to the fore in their own neighborhoods during the biennial. As a result of the studies it will offer within the framework of the project, the biennial will integrate with the entirety of the city and create an environment where the concept of design will be visible. Various special events will be held within the scope of Creative Neighborhoods during weekends throughout the biennial.

Design Routes

The third Istanbul Design Biennial will offer examination walks to design-oriented offices, stores, workshops, factories and structures in various parts of the city and the city's specific textures as of Oct. 22. The Design Routes will enable people to observe and learn about various disciplines and phases of design and will be built in Nişantaşı, Karaköy and Sultanahmet.


The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial is initiating special cooperation with e-flux - an archive and publishing platform that announces art projects and curatorial works. Specifically designed by e-flux's Nikolaus Hirsch and Anton Vidokle and curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley for the biennial, Superhumanity will be the first project of e-flux Architecture that has been launched as a new platform where popularizing ideas in design and architecture meet.

Inspired by the theme "ARE WE HUMAN?" the Superhumanity project aims to explore the radical idea that humanity is continuously designed by the works it creates. The articles to be written by nearly 50 writers, scientists, artists, architects, designers, philosophers, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists from different countries will be released on e-flux as of the mid October. Articles to be displayed at the exhibition will be published in a book after the exhibition.

A study on design's 200 years old journey in Turkey

Parallel with the conceptual framework of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, a comprehensive study titled the Turkey Design Chronology has been initiated. The study is a chronological essay addressing packaging, graphic design, communication and advertising, housing, furniture, landscaping and industrial buildings, as well as issues that have almost never been addressed from the design perspective, such as lighting, toys, music, ceramics, health, and civil organizations. Throughout the texts, which are prepared to include the period extending from the Tanzimât to the present day, the study aims to find the thresholds that affected our history of design in social, spatial, urban and historical aspects, and create a proper ground for fruitful debates to affect historiography. The texts are being created through the contribution of a large team of professionals under Pelin Derviş's coordination.

The Memory of Everyday, another component of the project, aims to create a visual reference on objects and places through families and found photos. The team, calling itself "Curiosity Cabinet," seeks the ways of initiating debates on anthology and reaches out to individuals who can enlarge upon debates. With this purpose, one section of Studio-X Istanbul will be converted into a research laboratory during the biennial and a series of discussion meetings will be held on the issues addressed in the chronology. The meetings will take place around provocative "curiosity tables" to be prepared by the Curiosity Cabinet. As part of the study, Studio-X Istanbul is installing a design library on Turkey's design history which will serve as an open source during and after the biennial. The events to be held within the framework of the project can be followed at

Sustainability in fashion design with H&M

As part of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, a workshop titled "Sustainability in Fashion Design" was jointly held by the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Institute with the sponsorship of H&M in June. A total of 20 young designers and students trained in textiles and fashion design and H&M Global Materials Business Development Manager Hülya Sevindik Özyiğit, Swedish designer Johanna Törnqwist and Fashion Designers Association President Mehtap Elaidi used recyclable materials in the workshop showing the sustainable and environmentally friendly aspect of fashion.

The products designed by participants will be exhibited at Adahan Istanbul Hotel under the curatorship of Demirden Tasarım throughout the biennial. The most successful design will be announced in the opening of the exhibition by a jury consisting of Föreningen Handarbetets Vänner / Friends of Handicraft CEO Lotta Ahlvar, H&M Creative Advisor Ann Sofie Johansson, H&M Turkey Communications Director Pelin Atay Kuran, Glamour magazine editor-in-chief Özge Sarıkadılar, Istanbul Moda Akademisi fashion design instructor Raf Stesmans, creative advisor and fashion writer Ece Sükan and fashion designer Zeynep Tosun.

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