Let your dreams come true in The Wish Machine, Turkey’s installation for the 1st London Design Biennale at Somerset House

Turkey is among the 37 countries participating at London’s inaugural Design Biennale at Somerset House, which ends this Tuesday. Their installation The Wish Machine falls under this year’s Utopia by Design theme, which explores a better imagined world.

The exhibition is part of UTOPIA 2016 – a year-long commemoration of the 500th anniversary of British author and philosopher Thomas More’s inspirational text ‘Utopia’. Back in 1516, More wrote about an ideal society living on a fictional island. His aim was not so much to create a blueprint for the future, but to encourage dreaming in the now.

To celebrate More’s vision, UTOPIA 2016 has become the Year of Imagination and Possibility, exploring the challenges facing contemporary culture and society, and the pivotal role of the arts and culture in creating a space where dreams about how we live, work and play can take root. It is within this context that the first London Design Biennale takes place.

They have commissioned new works by leading museums and designers from around the world, bringing together architects, designers, and scientists to create 37 stunning and thought-provoking installations. Set up in Somerset House earlier this month, each one tackles a different issue of our time, from urban city planning (Albania) to the scarcity of water (Saudi Arabia, UAE).

Turkey’s installation takes its cue from migration and is created by Autoban, an Istanbul-based multi-disciplinary studio specialising in architecture and interiors. Backed by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), Turkish Ceramics and Barrisol-Tekno, the team imagined a contemporary incarnation of the ‘wish tree’, representing the profound hope embodied in mass migration.

The Wish Machine appears as an interactive pneumatic system operating in a mirrored space. Visitors are invited to walk through a tunnel made of transparent hexagonal tubes and to share their hopes and wishes, visions of utopia, and aspirations for the future by writing them on paper and feeding them to the machine through a lid. Notes travel back through the tubes to a place out of visitors’ sight, to an unknown destination dubbed ‘utopia’.

Autoban's Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar inside The Wish Machine
Autoban’s Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar inside The Wish Machine

The concept is derived from an ancient Anatolian tradition of people tying wishes to a wish tree. It mirrors similar customs in the region where people light a candle or throw coins into a well to try to make a wish come true.

The full list of countries and territories exhibiting at Utopia by Design are: Albania; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Chile; Croatia; France; Germany; Greece; India; Indonesia; Israel; Italy; Japan; Lebanon; Mexico; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Korea; Russia; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; Sweden; Switzerland; Tunisia; Turkey; UK; and USA.

Due to the popularity of the exhibition, advanced booking is a must. To cater for the heavy demand, Somerset House is running late night viewings for the final few days of the exhibition. See online for more information.

Exhibition details

Title: Utopia by Design

Ends: Tuesday 27 September 2016

Venue: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Times: opens 11am daily, but closing times vary – check online for details

Admission: £15 (£10 concs, £5 for under 18s).

More info: you can read more information about the exhibition, venue, tickets and opening times here

For tickets: ticketmaster.co.uk/London-Design-Biennale-tickets