Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Art & Design

Weird and Wonderful Visions of Utopia From Saudi Arabia to Albania

Museums and designers from around the world were asked to submit their vision of Utopia by Design, exploring themes from migration to sustainability and social equality. The result is the first-ever London Design Biennale, on exhibit at London's Somerset House from Sept. 7 to Sept. 27. Explore the sometimes-surreal perceptions of perfection, from Saudi Arabia's giant gumball machine to South Africa's piranha-shaped swing chairs.

  1. India


    India's 'Chakraview' is designed by Sumant Jayakrishnan and is intended to capture the country's contemporary design scene, expanding on the nation's spiritual and cultural heritages.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  2. Austria


    As you enter and move around the mischer'traxler studio-designed 'LeveL' installation, your breath and the drafts you create by moving make the rods tilt and the LEDs dim, setting the mobile out of balance.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  3. Albania


    Helidon Xhixha's 'Bliss' is an arrangement of stainless steel columns and benches that are designed to encourage both self-reflection and solidarity.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  4. South Africa

    South Africa

    South Africa's installation, 'Otium and Acedia' is a series of hanging nests in the form of animals, into which you can climb.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  5. Israel


    Israel's 'Human.Touch' shows how design can address social needs and features Yaniv Kadosh's AIDrop, a first-aid distribution system that employs self-rotating units to drop cartons of supplies over disaster zones.

    Photographer: Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  6. Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia

    Saudia Arabia's 'Water Machine' is a giant gumball machine distributing globes of water if you insert the right money. The piece is designed by sisters Basma Bouzo and Noura Bouzo.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  7. Russia


    Russia's installation, titled 'Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design' is presented as a rediscovered archive. It tells the story of the forgotten projects created at the All-Union Soviet Institute of Technical Aesthetics and Soviet Design Studios between the 1960s and 1980s.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  8. Netherlands


    'Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment,' is an autobiographical installation of objects, products and memorabilia drawn from the home of the piece's creators: architect Rianne Makkink and designer Jurgen Bey.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  9. Spain


    Spain's 'VRPolis' asks what a smart city could be capable of 100 years from now. An immersive 360-degree virtual-reality film imagines how towns of the future could harness new technologies to make improvements in the fields of energy, mobility, connectivity, habitat, architecture, water and waste.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  10. France


    'Le bruit des bonbons—The Astounding Eyes of Syria' by designer Benjamin Loyauté is the French inclusion and invites visitors to buy packets of candy, modeled on an Assyrian idol, from a vending machine. All proceeds will help educate children of displaced families and refugees.

    Photographer: Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  11. Indonesia


    Indonesia's 'Freedome' is inspired by the 1955 Asian-African Conference. The bowl hovers over a coir-fiber dome to suggest an 'open satellite,' an informational hub free of political standpoints and territorial boundaries, according to the design team and the Indonesia Agency for Creative Economy.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

  12. Lebanon


    Architect Annabel Karim Kassar aims at an authentic feel of the streets of Beirut in her 'Mezzing in Lebanon' pavilion.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg