In the lead-up to BIO 50, 12 multidisciplinary teams will engage designers and practitioners from all fields, coming together to tackle a wide range of topics with local and global resonance. For each team, international and Slovenian mentors will elaborate a project brief, guiding and overseeing the collaborative process over the course of six months. The outcomes will be appraised, presented and awarded by an international jury, and will be unveiled at the opening week of the Biennial of Design in an exhibition and publication.
Since its founding in 1964, the Biennial of Design (BIO) in Ljubljana has surveyed the state of contemporary design from the heart of Central Europe. Witnessing the many shifts and changes the discipline has undergone in the last 50 years, BIO has seen design transition from its birth at the crossroads of industrialization and modernism towards a discipline that permeates all layers of everyday life.
Ultimately, the many steps in this transition have illustrated the fragility of the discipline’s initial framework. The contemporary world is no longer a place of and for mass production and distribution; instead, design has migrated through the multi-layered networks of today towards local, specific, customizable scenarios where the designer is no longer an all-powerful creator, but an element in a network of collaboration and influence. Similarly, in a world over-saturated with products and projects, the fundamental goal of design ceases to become the production of yet another chair.
Today, design has become a form of enquiry, of power, and of agency. With it, the role of any event that seeks to represent and disseminate design has also fundamentally changed. On its 50th anniversary, BIO embraces this opportunity to build upon its own tradition and history, advancing into an experimental, collaborative territory where design is employed and implemented as a tool to question and transform ideas about industrial production, public and private space, and pre-established systems and networks.
Engaging designers and multidisciplinary agents from Slovenia and abroad, BIO 50 will create twelve teams to work on a wide and comprehensive range of topics that resonate with local and global demands. Team mentors will elaborate a brief for each category, guiding participants in the creation of one or more projects to be developed and implemented during the Biennial.
BIO 50 will be a complex, transformative effort that seeks to strengthen local and international design networks, search for alternatives to implemented systems where design can play a role, and create bases for resilient structures that can develop through time, beyond the duration of the Biennial.
— Jan Boelen/Z33
Call for Applications
In 2014, the Biennial of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia, reinvents itself and launches an ambitious call for applications. Entering the realm of collaboration, where design is a tool to rethink everyday life, the Biennial is looking for individuals to shape possible futures for design.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the 24th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana (BIO) builds on the event’s tradition and history, advancing into an experimental, collaborative territory where design is employed as a tool to question and transform ideas about industrial production, public and private space, and pre-established systems and networks. Organized by MAO, the Museum of Architecture and Design, BIO 50 is curated by Belgian critic and curator Jan Boelen, director of Z33 - House for Contemporary Art, Head of the Master department Social Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven (NL), and chairman of the Flemish Committee for Architecture and Design.
The 2014 edition of BIO breaks with the traditional system of awards, choosing instead to award collaboration, its process and outcomes. Recognizing the idea that design is a discipline that permeates all layers of contemporary life, BIO launches an unprecedented effort to engage designers and agents from Slovenia and abroad in a collaborative approach that will address themes that affect everyday life.
Under a series of multidisciplinary mentors, twelve teams will tackle the themes of Affordable Living, Knowing Food, Public Water Public Space, Walking the City, Hidden Crafts, The Fashion System, Hacking Households, Nanotourism, Engine Blocks, Observing Space, Designing Life and an Open Category, creating specific projects that will be developed and implemented during the Biennial.
We are looking for team members to devise possible futures for design, integrating and contributing to the outcome of each group. We are looking for team members with diverse backgrounds and a multidisciplinary approach, students and professionals alike; for team members who are self-motivated and unafraid to experiment; and for team members who can bring their expertise to the table and simultaneously learn from their peers.
We are looking for team members who wish to take part in a long-term transformative effort to strengthen local and international design networks, search for alternatives to implemented systems where design can play a role, and create bases for resilient structures that can develop through time, beyond the duration of the Biennial.
From 18 September to 7 December 2014 in Ljubljana, BIO 50 will present the outcomes of each team’s work in an exhibition, and projects will be published in an accompanying catalogue. An international jury will grant an Award for Best Collaboration, and a compelling series of events will enrich the Biennial’s core program and serve to explore ways in which collaborations can continue beyond the event.
Konstantin Grcic is an industrial designer and founder of Munich-based Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design (KGID), where he has developed furniture, products and lighting for some of the leading companies in the design field. Many of his products have received international design awards such as the Compasso d`Oro for his Mayday lamp (Flos) in 2001 and the Myto chair (Plank) in 2011. His works are integrated in the permanent collections of the world´s most important design museums, such as the MoMA and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Grcic has also curated exhibitions for The Serpentine Gallery, the St.Etienne Design Biennale, and Rome’s Istituto Svizzero.
Alice Rawsthorn is an internationally renowned design commentator, whose columns for the International New York Times are syndicated to other media worldwide. Her latest book, Hello World: Where Design Meets Life, explores design's influence on our lives: past, present and future. Rawsthorn has spoken on design at important international events including the World Economic Forum in Davos. Based in London, she is a trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery and the dance group Michael Clark Company, as well as chair of trustees at Chisenhale Gallery.
Saša J. Mächtig
Saša J. Mächtig is a luminary of Slovenian industrial design. One of the founders of the Design Department at Ljubljana's Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, he was awarded the title Professor Emeritus by the University of Ljubljana for his contribution to the development of the discipline. In his multiple roles as a professor, designer and architect he headed numerous interdisciplinary groups for the development of new products and systems. Mächtig was also active in the international sphere, particularly in executive boards of professional associations. Amongst his achievements is the organisation of the 17th ICSID world congress in Ljubljana in 1992.
Jan Boelen graduated as Product Designer at the Media and Design Academy (KHLim) in Genk. He is the founder and artistic director of Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium; head of the Master Department Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven; and chairman of the committee for Architecture and Design of the Flemish Community.
With the aim to create projects and exhibitions that encourage the visitor to take a different look at everyday objects, Boelen founded Z33 in 2002, creating a unique laboratory and meeting place for experiment and innovation, where one can visit groundbreaking exhibitions featuring contemporary art and design. At Z33, Boelen has created exhibitions with Raf Simons, Studio Makkink & Bey, John Körmeling, Thomas Lommée, Dunne & Raby, Marti Guixé, and Aldo Bakker, among others. Boelen and Z33 also organize projects in public space, and facilitated the 2012 Manifesta 9 in Belgium.
Maja Vardjan is an architect and curator. Following her period as creative director of the T5 Project Space gallery and as the architecture editor of Ambient magazine, she currently works as curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO). She is the author of the Design and Dialogue publication and curated the Silent Revolutions: Contemporary Design in Slovenia exhibition. She has recently curated Under the Common Roof, an exhibition on modern public buildings drawing from MAO’s archive.
Cvetka Požar, PhD, is an art historian and curator at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO). She is the author of the exhibition and book To the Polling Booths! The Poster as a Political Medium in Slovenia 1945-1999. She was the co-curator of several exhibitions, most recently of Iskra: Non-Aligned Design 1946-1990 and Designing the Republic: Architecture, Design and Photography in Slovenia, 1991-2011. She has edited several exhibition catalogues and is co-editor of MAO’s AML Contemporary Book series.
The Biennial of Design is organised by MAO, Slovenia’s national Museum of Architecture and Design.
BIO project group
Matevž Čelik, director, Biennial of Design
Maja Šuštaršič, project manager
Nikola Pongrac, project coordinator
Anja Zorko, head of marketing
Pika Leban, press relations
The Biennial of Design is organised by MAO, Slovenia’s national Museum of Architecture and Design. MAO preserves and archives works from prominent architects and designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, constituting a rich history of creative ideas, vision and production. MAO organizes and shares this seemingly unlimited source of inspiration and exploration of architecture and design through its many compelling exhibitions, publications and diverse programmes. In this unique environment where past, present and a desire to discover the new come together, MAO serves as a dynamic forum for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and dialogue for and among a wide range of visitors.