The Egyptian installation, Modernist Indignation, was curated by Cairo-based architect Mohamed Elshahed and is described by the London Design Biennale as “an elegy for a rapidly disappearing culture, seen through the prism of the first Arabic design magazine”.
What this means in practice is that visitors to the show, which is at London’s Somerset House until September 23 and features installations from over 40 countries, will see a modern-day re-imagining of an exhibition put on in 1939 by the editors of Al Emara, the first Arabic-language design magazine, published between 1939 and 1959.
The contrast between old and new highlights the loss of Egypt’s modernist architecture and asks: “How can a design language that was once embraced by a society be so easily forgotten and denied a place in history?”
The theme of the London Design Biennale 2018 is Emotional States, with entrants asked to explore how design, not only affects our lives in a practical way, but also how it impacts on us emotionally. “Visceral exhibits and experiences will evoke moods and explore a particular country’s design story,” the London Design Biennale website states.
The Emotional States Medal was awarded to the United States for presenting "the most inspiring interpretation of the 2018 theme", while Latvia won the Best Design Medal for "most exceptional design".
Poland and China received special commendations. The winners were decided by a panel of 14 design experts, including Jonathan Reekie, director at Somerset House Trust and Paola Antonelli, senior curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The winner of a fourth Medal – the London Design Biennale 2018 Public Medal – will be voted upon by members of the public and announced on September 17.
The United Arab Emirates' installation at London Design Biennale is called Time is Subjective and is "a repetition of hourglasses, arranged in rows appear suspended in mid-air and rotate intermittently".
According to the website, "the link to the UAE’s rapid growth is overt: the sand that fills the hourglasses is the UAE’s most ubiquitous material. The theme of subjective time reflects the designers’ sense of pride in a nation that in less than half a century has transformed vast expanses of desert into an ever-changing urban skyline."