BIO 50 experiments with design of everyday life in ljubljana BIO 50 experiments with design of everyday life in ljubljana
sep 24, 2014

BIO 50 experiments with design of everyday life in ljubljana

BIO 50 experiments with design of everyday life in ljubljana

photo by ana kovač/MAO




for decades, design biennials have served as reflections on current values in culture, through the display of refined, carefully conceived, and often industrially-made objects. for its 24th incarnation and 50th anniversary, rather than a typical exhibition of finalized products, ljubljana’s design biennial (BIO) has transformed itself into a six-month collaborative process. the various projects’ results, which in many cases are still in progress, have recently opened for exhibition under the title ‘3, 2, 1 … TEST’.


each project questions the design of everyday life and investigates systems through which society operates in relation to specific themes, which include: affordable living, knowing food, public water public space, walking the city, hidden crafts, the fashion system, hacking households, nanotourism, engine blocks, observing space, and designing life.


the experimental framework of BIO 50 is led by curator jan boelen, who states the the biennial serves as a platform, ‘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.’ curatorial efforts are in collaboration with maja vardjan and cvetka požar of MAO (slovenia’s national museum of architecture and design), the institution responsible for the biennial’s organization.

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the ‘nanotourism’ team mentors discuss the group’s projects with the design jury
from left to right: konstantin grcic, architects aljoša dekleva and tina gregorič, alice rawsthorn, and saša j. mächtig
photo by ana kovač/MAO




to provide outside perspective on each of the design themes, an international jury was brought to evaluate the collaborative efforts, comprised of industrial designer konstantin grcic, writer and critic alice rawsthorn, and slovenian educator and designer saša j. mächtig. with optimistic response they express, ‘in an intensely turbulent era when we face radical, potentially destructive changes on so many fronts, BIO 50 plays an indispensable role in suggesting possible solutions.’


based on their ambitious efforts to rethink contemporary modes of tourism, the award for best collaboration went to ‘nanotourism’. led by team mentors aljoša dekleva and tina gregorič, and in collaboration with the AA visiting school slovenia, the group not only imagined possible restructurings of global systems but also designed alternative mechanisms for sleeping and converted their museum display space into a free and engaging hotel.

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the ‘hacking households’ exhibit includes a series of kit-of-parts DIY fans
image © designboom




the ‘hacking households‘ group aims to reimagine traditional domestic appliances by employing technologies such as 3D printing, DIY circuitry, and app-based functionality. the systems realized assume an increased involvement from the individual user, and allow for repair and customization of our everyday objects as opposed to a ‘throw-out’ and ‘buy-new’ mentality.


similarly proposing an increased user-involvement with everyday objects, a team of designers led by re-do studio envision a singular engine block able to be plugged in to various different machines. rather than requiring many separate engines for each vehicle, the group imagines a modular and interchangeable device, documented by a short film placed in a possible near-future.

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a singular engine block plugs into various machines throughout a man’s day
photo by engine blocks group




the ‘designing life’ team imagined themselves as a consultancy office specializing in the production of sex toys for plants. the group envisioned potential client demands, and subsequently conceived various objects to increase pollination and reproduction for various vegetation which face biological constraints.

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a display of plant sex objects stimulates increased pollination and reproduction
image © designboom




in response to the multifaceted nature of contemporary society’s relationship to water systems, five disparate projects have been produced for the ‘public water public space’ theme. among them, john stanislav sadar, of little wonder design studio, has conceived a fog producing structure which feeds an urban garden sited in ljublana. the spectacle of plants adapts in color with seasonal changes, while its framework allows for ice formation in the winter months.

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‘fog garden’ uses water as a performative and spatial tool for a sensorial urban experience
image by little wonder design studio




seeking to localize and simplify the current systems of fashion production and consumption, the ‘matter loci – matter globalis‘ lab utilized regional material and designers to create a wool clothing line. the pieces result from an open call competition, and the team imagines the same process being replicated in other cities.

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the ‘fashion systems’ team utilized local material and designers to create a wool clothing line
image © designboom




to approach the topic of ‘affordable housing’, seven projects have been conceived to address issues of vacancy, scarcity, and inflated cost in contemporary development. proposals involved envision a less heavy handed approach to architecture, as well as a DIY spirit with increased engagement from the building occupants. the efforts include an erector-set inspired self-assembled construction system by US-based architecture office austin + mergold, a model of ‘generic’ housing units by portuguese fala atelier, and the realization of an adaptable shipping container to function as a community center in the fuzine neighborhood in ljubljana.

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a shipping container arrives to its site in the fuzine neighborhood in ljubljana
photo by tomislav vidović

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a panel discussion considers ‘designing everyday life’ at BIO 50’s opening event
from left to right: curator jan boelen, discussion mediator vera sacchetti, critics alice rawsthorn and justin mcguirk
photo by ana kovač/MAO

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an exhibition of objects from prior BIO events displays the biennial’s legacy
image © designboom

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