“Cooper Hewitt’s interactive technologies bring design to life in innovative ways and invite people to explore the joy of creativity,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. “As we develop our long-term partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum on a permanent exhibition space in London, the London Design Biennale is another opportunity to introduce the Smithsonian’s vast resources and knowledge to a global audience, building a bridge to the important theme of utopia.”
“As America’s design museum, Cooper Hewitt continually seeks new ways to advance the public understanding of design and serves as a dynamic, global resource,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “We are honored to have the opportunity to share our world-class collection and groundbreaking interactive experience with an international audience at the London Design Biennale.”
Cooper Hewitt’s Immersion Room—an interactive installation designed by Cooper Hewitt and Local Projects—will offer a selection of digitized wallpapers from the museum’s collection that embody the theme “Utopia by Design.” The Immersion Room uses digital and projection technologies to present the wallpapers at full scale. Using an interactive table in the Immersion Room, visitors will be able to explore wallpapers from the museum’s collection and create their own designs. The installation will focus on how people create ideas of utopia within their own homes, and how the designed home is a “place of respite” or “little slice of paradise.” Cooper Hewitt’s Assistant Curator of Wallcoverings Gregory Herringshaw selected 101 historic and contemporary utopia-related wallcoverings, from the 18th to the 21st century, ranging from secret gardens to youthful indulgences to exotic landscapes.
Visitors to the London Design Biennale will be issued a Cooper Hewitt Pen they can use to explore the collection of wallcoverings in the Immersion Room, save their favorite museum works and create and save their own designs. In addition, installations throughout Somerset House can be collected and saved with the Pen, allowing visitors to develop their interest in design and record their entire visit to the Biennale. Visitors will receive a receipt with a special URL and code allowing them to view their collection online after they have left the Biennale.
The Immersion Room installation and digital experience at the London Design Biennale are made possible by the Secretary of the Smithsonian and the Smithsonian National Board.