Subscribe to our newsletter

Highlights From the Previous Week, Partnered Events and Haikus. View our Newsletter archive

Design Biennale Zurich: Shift

Aug 30, 2023

The fourth edition of the Design Biennale Zurich opened on September 1st with a series of exhibitions dedicated to the small and large changes that effect our daily lives – whether that is connected to objects, society or climate change. The exhibition is on view through September 19th.

Scroll right to read more ›
Text by

“Hold down the SHIFT key once, and small becomes big. Or more precisely: small becomes SMALL. The content of the word is still the same, but its shape has changed. Is that possible – to change the shape without touching the meaning, the content? How can shifts succeed that cannot be triggered at the push of a button?” These are the questions posed by the 4th edition of the Design Biennale Zurich, which features 15 installations or ‘positions’ by contemporary designers and artists who address ideas of change, large and small. The biennale takes place at the Old Botanical Garden UZH and many of the installations reference materials or the site of the gardens. This will be the first edition to be a part of the Zurich Design Week events.

Curated by Gabriela Chicherio and Andreas Saxer, themes such as upcycling, data-design, digital plants- and animal worlds, scent installation or virtual reality are confronted in the multimedia projects. Among the 15 positions include: “Liminal Sediments” by Studio Eidola that looks at the potential uses for gravel quarry waste, exploring the in-between phases within material development; “Electryon” by ALIAS & COMTE.MEUWLY, which invites visitors to engage with energy. During a series of events, visitors are introduced to energy production in a participatory way through a solar-powered heat generator that invites visitors to cook and gather. The movable solar oven can be activated by visitors, who position it in the sunlight; IN/OUT by  NULL SERIE, is a special installation in the historic cellar vaults of the Kasematte that plays with light  and its reflection, using different colors and sounds to contribute to a change in perception; and Livia Lauber presents “Round & Round / Thinking on Circularity”, which consists of a group of unique seating that reflects the principles of circular design and encourages visitors to sit and relax, connect with nature and the greater world.

For the first time, the Biennale will present the Talent Award by Swiss Re, which aims to spotlight emerging talents. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to vote for their favourite project among five contributions nominated by the curators. The winner will be announced on September 15, 2023.

The full list of participating designers includes: ALIAS & COMTE/MEUWLY, Fiona-K, Frédéric Dedelley, Get It Studio, Hochschule Luzern, Kunst & Design, honey & bunny, Ice Formwork, Laurent Hermann Progin, Léa Coquoz/Manuel Wirth, Livia Lauber, NULL SERIE, Studio Eidola, Tanski/KOSMOS, Thomas Renggli & Tina Friebel, and Yael Anders.

“Shift”, the 2023 Design Biennale in Zurich opens on view from September 1 – September 19.



Portrait of Mika Schell / NULL SERIE
Portrait of Studio Eidola
Portrait of Studio Honey and Bunny
Portrait of Tanski/KOSMOS
Livia Lauber, Study for furniture in "Round & Round / Thinking on circularity" installation
Thomas Renggli & Tina Friebel, Study for Datenkultur
Design Biennale Zurich tour 2021, Photo by Lukas Beyeler
Design Biennale Zurich tour 2021, Photo by Lukas Beyeler

Articles you also might like

Heritage(s) Surrealiste(s) was an exhibition curated by Jean-François Declercq for Milan Design Week and presented at the Baranzate Ateliers as part of the Fuorisalone.

For TLmag39: The Culture of the Object, Adrian Madlener wrote about Alice Stori Liechtenstein’s curatorial vision for Schloss Hollenegg, the 12th century castle that she shares with her family in the Southern Austrian countryside, and which features an annual design exhibition and residency program. In 2023, she presented an exhibition on glass titled, “Ashes + Sand”. On May 4th, 2024, they will open “Wood Land”, an exhibition that will focus on the forest and its primary resource, wood.

Nietzsche-Haus, Sils; Segantini Museum, St. Moritz; and Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz present a joint exhibition: ‘Gerhard Richter: Engadin’, curated by Dieter Schwarz and on view from 16 December 2023 – 13 April 2024.