© CULTURE SHOCK
© Jacopo Salvi, courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
© Gulia Tomasello
© PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS SCHWAGGA
© Simon Mills
© Dominic Oliver Dudley
17 December 2018
by Kate Le Versha
As 2018 comes to a close, we look back over some of the highlights of our work in Architecture, Design and Fashion this year.
"I've been really proud to see how our programme has grown through powerful partnerships, offering so many international opportunities to the UK design sector and practitioners overseas. This year, the future has been our focus - taking a global perspective on our disciplines; from championing Fashion Revolutionaries to bringing together designers from South East Asia and the UK to explore the future of sustainable design. In the wake of our award for this year's British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, we have launched the open call for 2020 early, so that we can hear from the sector about the issues that matter. Our work must continue to ask the most relevant questions." Sarah Mann, Director for Architecture Design Fashion
International Fashion Showcase 2018-19
Free exhibition: 11 - 25 February 2019, Somerset House, London
The International Fashion Showcase (IFS) nurtures and presents work from the most exciting fashion talent from around the world. Working in partnership, British Council, British Fashion Council, London College of Fashion and Somerset House provide a tailored programme for 16 emerging international designers, including a business development programme lead by London College of Fashion (LCF) and a creative residency within Somerset House Studios in London. IFS will culminate with a free public exhibition during London Fashion Week, 11-25 February 2019 at Somerset House, showcasing the work developed by the designers in a compelling series of installations exploring urgent issues and new ideas that are shaping fashion globally.
"16 designers from 16 different countries, across 5 continents: fresh perspective from the people who are tackling the anxieties of their own industry, they’re not just tearing up the rulebook they’re setting fire to it, laying the foundations for our future.
More than just a celebration of contemporary culture, the exhibition will showcase the activism of a generation embracing the creative power of craftsmanship and identity and difference as a vehicle for change through an arresting presentation of garments and installations/design.
A group of designers who embody the values of community and sustainability and hope, it will be the physical culmination of the programme that began in London during the summer residency at LCF and Somerset House.
The exhibition at Somerset House in February is an opportunity to view first-hand the visions of these agents of change. Open for London Fashion Week this exhibition offers a raw alternative to the catwalk, and instead harnesses the energy that embodies the fashion world as it begins to demand a shift towards a more hopeful future." Jessica Mansfield, Project Coordinator, International Fashion Showcase
Join us at Somerset House in February for the exhibition
This year the British Pavilion made history, with ISLAND being awarded Special Mention for the coveted Golden Lion Award for Best National Pavilion by La Biennale di Venezia; this is the first time the British Pavilion and British Council has been honoured with an award at the Architecture Biennale.
The curatorial team, Caruso St John Architects with artist Marcus Taylor, responded to Freespace, the theme of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 – set by the curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara – with the construction of a new public gathering space in the Giardini in Venice. A wooden platform over the roof the Pavilion offered visitors a new view over the Lagoon, and a place to sit, while the building below was left empty of exhibits. The Pavilion hosted a programme of events, performances, installations and debates responding to the theme of Freespace and ideas raised by Island. Kate Tempest, Studio Wayne McGregor and Inua Ellams amongst many others took over the Pavilion throughout the Biennale.
"This year, the British Pavilion broke with convention, creating a place for visitors to meet and engage with the building and each other, in a new way. The programme of events supported the Pavilion’s role as a space for debate, for exchange of ideas and for visionary thinking. This year has been a resounding success for the British Council, with ISLAND at the British Pavilion not only being awarded the Special Mention for the first time, but welcoming a record number of visitors." Sarah Mann, Commissioner of the British Pavilion 2018 and Director of Architecture Design Fashion, British Council
Interested in exhibiting? Our open call for the British Pavilion 2020 has launched, apply here.
This year we partnered with Fashion Revolution with the aim of creating positive change in the global fashion industry. Fashion Revolutionaries is a series of films, each highlights change-makers and activists who are exploring new ways of working which value people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.
"At a significant time for the fashion industry, this programme showcases emerging leaders within the future of fashion & sustainability, on a global level. It has been valuable to engage with a growing online and offline community in order to provoke new dialogue and share creative solutions from designers around the world.
The Fashion Revolutionaries films capture the unique world of seven international designers through the lens of their own digital technology." Hannah Robinson, Programme Manager
Afghanistan, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
Crafting Futures is our global programme which supports the future of craft through education, collaboration and research. Bringing together a consortium of partners from the UK and connecting them with local partners around the world, this year has seen the considerable expansion of the programme.
"It’s been an exciting year for Crafting Futures – we have welcomed more countries onto the programme and are beginning to make the learning from the projects more globally accessible.
It’s been a big year for building international connections, exchanging practice and addressing the key challenges in craft from storytelling to youth engagement, and we’re really excited to see how the global network is expanding and sharing.
We’ve produced learning kits for natural dyes, run a challenge prize for Vietnamese designers, hosted a forum on craft at the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia and launched a new design curriculum in the Saunders School of Weaving in Myanmar.
We have so many stories coming out of it and international collaborations coming together to work towards the future of craft. Keep your eyes on this space as we’re growing even more next year!" Kendall Robbins, Senior Programme Manager
Each year during London Design Festival (LDF) we invite key design industry figures from around the world to join us for our Design Connections programme. The delegation take a unique curated tour of the festival, meeting leading UK designers, curators, design organisations as well as discovering new work and gaining new relationships. This year we welcomed delegates from Brazil, Uruguay, China, Mexico, Germany, Kenya, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Singapore. During the week, we also organise our annual event, 10x10, showcasing the work of ten top emerging designers.
"One of the highlights for me this year was being able to test a few new ideas – for example, we partnered with the Design Museum to host 10x10 and opened the event up to a public audience. It was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and connect designers we think are on the rise with a wider audience. One of the opportunities for next year is to better connect with designers across the UK and potentially open up aspects of the programme to other cities." Parvinder Marwaha, Programme Manager Design
Residencies & Workshops
Asides from our main programmes, we also offer many opportunities for UK designers to connect and collaborate with other practitioners from around the globe; a chance to learn, challenge perceptions, build new networks, develop creative practice and share great work around the world.
"Our residencies and workshops attract some of the most experimental and open-minded designers working today. They tend to represent a range of fields within design and always bring uncurated ideas to the table. These programmes are a fantastic expression of cultural exchange, giving participants the chance to experience different cultures, challenge their own approaches to making, thinking and collaborating." Gwen Webber, Programme Manager Architecture
This year we have explored the future of sustainable and circular design, partnering with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, connecting practitioners from South East Asia and the UK - watch the film here. We've sent UK designers overseas with the Helsinki Design Residency, to Colombia with the Rogelio Salmona Fellowship, to Caracas with the Reframing Spaces Fellowship, across the globe with the Crafting Futures Grant Scheme and our partnership with the Winston Churchill Fellowship, and supported UK designers to show their work internationally through the Biennales and Festivals fund. We've also created opportunities for mutual exchange between the UK and the Middle East, with a workshop for designers from the Gulf at the V&A, and working with the RSA to send UK designers to Saudi Design Week.
Thank you to everyone we have worked with this year, we look forward to seeing what new opportunities we can create together next year.