Venice Biennale 2018 Review

Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 Review, Pavilion Photos, Furniture Design

Venice Biennale 2018 Review

2018 Furniture + Architectural Exhibition in Italy – Article by Architect Jassim AlNashmi

9 Jun 2018

Venice Biennale 2018 Review

Review of 16th International Architecture Exhibition & Venice Design 2018

Article by architect, artist and designer Jassim AlNashmi.

Jassim is responsible for the ‘Traveling Mihrab’ exhibit at the Palazzo Michiel, representing Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf at the Venice Design 2018 furniture design exhibition.

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There are two things I experienced in Venice in the last week of May, the Venice Design 2018 furniture design exhibition and the 16th Venice Biennale for Architecture.

The Venice biennale of this year runs on the theme of Freespace, “a word which describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda.” This theme was selected by the curators of this year’s biannual architecture exhibition, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, and was brilliantly conformed to by all participants in an intellectual manner.

The Venice Design furniture exhibition runs parallel to the biennale in that it opens on the same day (May 26th with private viewings on May 24th and 25th) and closes on the same day (November 25th) and conforms to the same theme of Freespace, so not only are there architecture pavilions discussing the theme, but furniture pieces as well.

Venice Design 2018 insallation:

Venice Design 2018 installation

Traveling Mihrab by Jassim AlNashmi at Venice Design 2018

Venice Design 2018 is curated by Anaïs Hammoud and Camille Guibaud who have selected furniture designers from all over the world to participate in this international exhibition, one of which was myself representing Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf.

Traveling Mihrab exhibit:

Traveling Mihrab by Jassim AlNashmi at Venice Design 2018

Traveling Mihrab by Jassim AlNashmi at Venice Design 2018

National presence included Italy, France, Jordan, Pakistan, USA, Australia, The Netherlands, China and Japan to name a few.

Traveling Mihrab:

Traveling Mihrab by Jassim AlNashmi at Venice Design 2018 Traveling Mihrab by Jassim AlNashmi at Venice Design 2018

The exhibit is located on the first floor of a beautiful building called the Palazzo Michiel, which overlooks the Grand Canal, the entire floor is a myriad of interconnected rooms, each room exhibiting a group of furniture pieces, or sometimes an installation, like the partitions of black mesh and red thread titled The Fire of Holy Spirit by Yi Chen & Muchen Zhang, and sometimes a singular furniture piece, like the swing by Ingrid Sol Leccia. Among 51 designs, the highlights were the experiential sound installation by Basel Naouri which uses an Xbox Kinect motion sensor to sync hand movements with instrumental sounds (pair of photos below), cobalt blue chairs by Nifemi-Marcus Bello, the Vichy Chandelier by Jonathan Browning Studios, and the spinning stools by Coalesce Design Studio.

Venice Design 2018 installation

Venice Design 2018 installation

My participation was the Traveling Mihrab, which is a contemporary interpretation of both mosque architecture and mosque furniture as it deconstructs an architectural element, the mihrab, and creates a furniture piece that can be indoor or outdoor. Mosque architecture is widely understood to be a rectangular/square building with the dome, a minaret, and a mihrab which is seen on the exterior wall as a subtle bump and on the interior looks like a cylindrical space carved out of the wall.

Venice Design 2018 installation:

Venice Design 2018 installation

The idea of deconstructing traditional mosque architecture is a progressive leap past modernism into the contemporary realm, because it keeps the mihrab wall flat whilst animating the space with curvilinear surfaces, and above all, it is a new furniture archetype, which enriches the culture’s visual identity. It’s also echoes mihrabs from dynasties in the early periods of Islam when travelers would carry a heavy carved wooden mihrab on camelback. This design strips down the motif of the mihrab to it’s bear necessities giving it its minimalist aesthetic making it a lightweight and portable contemporary piece of furniture. It also unites the three monotheist traditions as the mihrab is where Zechariah found Mary (Mariam) praying, and this symbol of the mihrab as a place dedicated for worship is found in all three religious traditions.

Venice Design 2018 installation:

Venice Design 2018 installation

Work at the Arsenale

Now we move to the Arsenale, where half of the architecture biennale action resides for the next 6 months, here there a numerous impressive works by architectural firms and international pavilions alike, what was most interesting was the diversity in the interpretations of the exhibition’s theme, from SANAA’s spatial understanding of freespace through overlapping cylindrical glass walls, to Alvaro Siza’s sculptural interpretation through graceful marble slabs, to Alejandro Aravena’s intellectual inquisitive presentation about “the value of what’s not built”. Andra Matin received a special mention for his “sensitive installation that provides a framework to reflect on the material and form of traditional vernacular structures.” The installation walls showcase various bamboo strip weaving patterns within the same wall.

Bahrain Pavilion:

Bahrain Pavilion Venice Biennale

Bahrain Pavilion Venice Biennale

Bahrain Pavilion Venice Biennale

Croatian Pavilion:

Croatian Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Croatian Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale

Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter has a visceral installation in the middle of the Arsenale, an escape from the surrounding environment to a mountain peak in Greenland, the temperature, sound and quality of light are different, all subtle, abstract and immersive, freespace being the opportunity for anyone to visit the Climate Centre and observe the icebergs and hold social events in the centre’s spaces. Another installation that seems to take the visitor elsewhere is Marina Tabassum’s horizontal plane dissection of a Bengali courtyard, a space between the sand and the sky where many daily activities occur, a space that is semi-private or semi-public is consequently a freespace where activities happen freely in this space and this is engrained in Bengali culture. Once one steps onto the sand-like plane you feel teleported, because it feels so real due to the real tools, furniture and toys are set in the space which are from real homes.

Indonesian Pavilion:

Indonesian Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 Indonesian Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale

Lebanese Pavilion:

Lebanese Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale

Lebanese Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Mexican Pavilion:

Mexican Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Mexican Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale

Nordic Pavilion:

Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Nordic Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Phillippines Pavilion:

Phillippines Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018

Phillippines Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018 installation

Venice Biennale Singapore Pavilion 2018:

Singapore Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale

Singapore Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Singaporean Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Swiss Pavilion:

Swiss Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Venice Biennale Turkey Pavilion 2018:

Venice Biennale Turkey Pavilion 2018

UAE Pavilion:

UAE Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

UAE Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

UAE Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 UAE Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

UAE Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

The Saudi Pavilion was a pivotal moment for Saudi Arabia and the world, their first ever participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale, with one of the largest and most central spaces in the Arsenale, the Saudi MiSK Foundation’s representative and prolific contemporary artist, Ahmed Mater, acts as commissioner to the ensemble of architects that worked together to produce an impressive pavilion.

Saudi Pavilion:

Saudi Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Saudi Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Saudi Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Saudi Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Curators Dr. Sumaya Al-Solaiman and Jawaher Al-Sudairy came up with the concept of “Spaces in Between” which documents and displays Saudi Arabia’s plethora of private and public vacant plots that are the primary reason for their cities being extremely sprawled and thus feeling like ghost towns.

Also, the social consequences that this suburban low-density living has induced in the culture, for example the vehicle as a social space or social media as a digital platform to compensate for the lack of public space. The tall curved walls are made of clear acrylic sheets brushed with a sand-resin mixture, these surfaces are projected onto with masterplans, pictures and videos.

Argentinian Pavilion:

Argentinian Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018

Argentinian Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018

Argentinian Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018

Argentinian Pavilion Venice Biennale 2018

The Argentina pavilion was slightly under appreciated in the media, this was a magnificent pavilion, sitting modestly in a dark room, a portal to not only the outdoors, but an untouched landscape, just vegetation and sky, very elegant.

Article by Kuwaiti architect Jassim AlNashmi, former colleague of architect Adrian Welch (e-architect Founder) in the Middle East.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jassim-al-nashmi/

All photographs © Jassim AlNashmi


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Venice Architecture

Venice Architecture Designs – chronological list

Venice Architectural Tours by e-architect

Venice Architecture News

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
Architects: Foster + Partners
Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
image courtesy of architects

Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of the Holy See at Venice Biennial
Pavilion of the Holy See at Venice Biennial 2018
image courtesy of architects
Pavilion of the Holy See at Venice Biennial

Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion 2018 by KECC
The City of Radical Shift, 2018 © N.E.E.D. Architecture, Sungwoo Kim (N.E.E.D. Architecture)
image © N.E.E.D. Architecture, Sungwoo Kim (N.E.E.D. Architecture)
Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion 2018

Venice Biennale Irish Pavilion 2018
Venice Biennale Irish Pavilion 2018
Illustration by Mark Wickham
Venice Biennale Irish Pavilion 2018

Venice Biennale – Exhibitions, Designs, Images




Venice Architecture Biennale – Review + Images

Website: La Biennale di Venezia

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Review of 16th International Architecture Exhibition & Venice Design 2018 furniture design exhibition, Italy

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