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Istanbul Design Biennial Asks Are We Human?

Even among the many highly anticipated design events this fall, the Istanbul Design Biennial is certainly at the top of many lists. Set to launch on 22 October, the third edition of the event is curated...
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Text by Ray Hu

Even among the many highly anticipated design events this fall, the Istanbul Design Biennial is certainly at the top of many lists. Set to launch on 22 October, the third edition of the event is curated by renowned theorist/critics Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina, who are currently professors at world-class architecture programs — Columbia and Princeton, respectively. Together, they bring a strong intellectual background to the month-long event, as reflected in its ambitious title: “ARE WE HUMAN? The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years.”

These timeframes offer a broad framework for examining the relationship between the concepts of “design” and “human”. For example, social media takes place on the order of seconds, while archaeology stretches back across millennia — in fact, Wigley and Colomina are looking to trace design back to the very dawn of humanity. Meanwhile, four overlapping “clouds” loosely demarcate the categories of the projects: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life, and Designing Time.

In total, the five main venues will host no fewer than 70 projects by designers, architects, artists, historians, and scientists, who hail from 13 countries. Galata Greek Primary School, Studio-X Istanbul and Depo in Karaköy, and Alt in Bomonti will be free to enter, while the Istanbul Archaeological Museums in Sultanahmet will require tickets.

The balance of the extensive program comprises panels and seminars, a creative districts project, and design routes, sited throughout the city and over the course of the month. The Istanbul Design Biennial will also be documented in several publications, from a special collaboration with e-flux to a book by Wigley and Colomina, as well as a guide and an exhibition catalogue.

The third Istanbul Design Biennale will take place from 22 October – 20 November. For more information, see the Istanbul Design Biennial website.

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Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, curators, Istanbul Design Biennale
Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, curators, Istanbul Design Biennale
Deniz Ova, Director, Istanbul Design Biennial
Deniz Ova, Director, Istanbul Design Biennial
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