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The concept of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial announced
Following the welcome speech by the director of the Istanbul Design Biennial Deniz Ova, the curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley announced that the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial is entitled “ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species : 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years” and will explore the intimate relationship between the concepts of “design” and “human.”

ISTANBUL.- Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial will be held from 22 October to 4 December 2016. The curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley announced the concept of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial at a media meeting held on Tuesday, 1 December in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums Library.

Following the welcome speech by the director of the Istanbul Design Biennial Deniz Ova, the curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley announced that the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial is entitled “ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species : 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years” and will explore the intimate relationship between the concepts of “design” and “human.”

Colomina and Wigley said “design always presents itself as serving the human but its real ambition is to redesign the human. The history of design is therefore a history of evolving conceptions of the human. To talk about design is to talk about the state of our species. Humans have always been radically reshaped by the designs they produce and the world of design keeps expanding. We live in a time when everything is designed, from our carefully crafted individual looks and online identities, to the surrounding galaxies of personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures, data, chemicals, organisms, and genetic codes. The average day involves the experience of thousands of layers of design that reach to outer space but also reach deep into our bodies and brains. We literally live inside design, like the spider lives inside the web constructed from inside its own body. But unlike the spider, we have spawned countless overlapping and interacting webs. Even the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer. There is no longer an outside to the world of design. Design has become the world.

Design is what makes the human. It is the basis of social life, from the very first artefacts to the exponential expansion of human capability. But design also engineers inequalities and new forms of neglect. More people than ever in history are forcibly displaced by war, lawlessness, poverty, and climate at the same time that the human genome and the weather are being actively redesigned. We can no longer reassure ourselves with the idea of “good design.” Design needs to be redesigned.”

ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species : 2 seconds, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years invites a wide arrange of designers and thinkers from around the world to respond to a compact set of eight interlinked propositions:


These propositions will be explored over the coming year in events, classes, workshops, and online discussions – including open calls for responses to the propositions by short videos. The details of the open call for the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial will be announced on as of 1 February 2016.

The curators also explained that this biennial is an archaeological project. It is not about celebrating particular designers or about visualizing remarkable futures. It will be a multi-media documentary about the state of design today, when everyday reality has outpaced science fiction. It will place the extreme condition of contemporary design into the context of the extended 200,000 year history of our species – from the first standardized ornaments and the footprints of the first shoes to the latest digital and carbon footprints.

Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley expressed their honour to announce the concept of the biennial in the beautiful library of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, surrounded by the books of Osman Hamdi Bey, the great intellectual, diplomat and artist who founded Ottoman archaeological science and surrounded by this museum, which they think of as a precious museum of design - tracing the histories of more than a million human artefacts. They thought a contemporary design biennial should be part of the extended history of design represented by collections like the ones gathered in the buildings around us here. They added that a biennial normally focuses on the last 2 years. The time frame for this exhibition will span from the last 2 seconds to the last 200,000 years. Ancient archaeological artefacts from Turkey and the region will be presented at the heart of the biennial to reframe the latest real-time thinking about design.

Rather than a singular design branding, a number of young Turkish graphic designers – Pemra Ataç, Yetkin Başarır, Özge Güven, Okay Karadayılar, and Sarp Sözdinler – will work on different dimensions of the biennial, from the streets to the publications, to the exhibition, and to the online activities. The multiplicity of visual identities will be treated as an integral part of the reflection on design rather than simply packaging or communication. Likewise, the exhibition architecture by Andrés Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation particularly (Roberto Gonzalez Garcia, Laura Mora, Federico Landi) will act as clusters of interactive clouds for reflection and discussion. Evangelos Kotsioris is the Assistant Curator of the project and the online dimensions are being directed by Iván López Munuera.

The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial exhibitions will be held in Galata Greek Primary School, DEPO and Studio-X. The details of the biennial’s events programme will be announced later in 2016.

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