Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale

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By Jenny Xie
Cooper Hewitt’s Immersion Room, an interactive showcase of wallpapers dating back to the 18th century, will represent the United States in the first London Design Biennale.

This September, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will represent the United States at the inaugural London Design Biennale, where over 35 countries from six continents will convene to exhibit works that explore the theme "Utopia by Design." Chosen to honor the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, the theme speaks to the goal of starting global conversations about sustainability, urban living, and social equality.

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 1 of 7 - "As America’s design museum, Cooper Hewitt continually seeks new ways to advance thepublic understanding of design and serves as a dynamic, global resource," said CarolineBaumann, director of the museum. "We are honored to have the opportunity to share ourworld-class collection and groundbreaking interactive experience with an internationalaudience at the London Design Biennale."

"As America’s design museum, Cooper Hewitt continually seeks new ways to advance thepublic understanding of design and serves as a dynamic, global resource," said CarolineBaumann, director of the museum. "We are honored to have the opportunity to share ourworld-class collection and groundbreaking interactive experience with an internationalaudience at the London Design Biennale."

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 2 of 7 - Using the Pen, guests can browse the museum's reserve of historic and contemporary wallpapers or create their own designs to be projected in the room. 

Using the Pen, guests can browse the museum's reserve of historic and contemporary wallpapers or create their own designs to be projected in the room. 

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 3 of 7 - Local Projects, in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, designed the original concept of the Pen, which encourages dynamic interplay between guests and museum exhibits. The pointed end allows you to draw on interactive tables, and the flat end saves specific works. After the visit, you can browse through your museum experience by visiting cooperhewitt.org/you and entering your unique code.

Local Projects, in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, designed the original concept of the Pen, which encourages dynamic interplay between guests and museum exhibits. The pointed end allows you to draw on interactive tables, and the flat end saves specific works. After the visit, you can browse through your museum experience by visiting cooperhewitt.org/you and entering your unique code.

Cooper Hewitt will bring its Immersion Room and interactive Pen to London’s Somerset House. The installation allows visitors to digitally project wallpapers from the museum’s extensive collection at full scale. Cooper Hewitt boasts a catalogue of 10,000 wallcoverings spanning the 17th century to present day; for the Immersion Room, the assistant curator of wallcoverings Gregory Herringshaw chose 101 patterns reflecting utopia. From secret gardens to faraway lands, they visually represent the ideal world and the promise of finding respite in a well-designed home. With the Cooper Hewitt Pen, guests can browse the wallpaper selections, create their own designs, and save works they encounter throughout Somerset House, creating a digital scrapbook of their experience that they can access through a special URL and code. 

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 4 of 7 - Bibliotheque, designed by Richard Lowell Neas (American, 1928-1995) and produced by Brunschwig & Fils, Inc.

Bibliotheque, designed by Richard Lowell Neas (American, 1928-1995) and produced by Brunschwig & Fils, Inc.

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 5 of 7 - Cow, designed by Andy Warhol (American, 1928–-1987) and printed by Bob Miller’s Wallpaper Studio (New York, USA).

Cow, designed by Andy Warhol (American, 1928–-1987) and printed by Bob Miller’s Wallpaper Studio (New York, USA).

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 6 of 7 - Manufactured by Robert Caillard and distributed by Nancy McClelland (American, 1877–1959).

Manufactured by Robert Caillard and distributed by Nancy McClelland (American, 1877–1959).

Cooper Hewitt Creates an Immersive Utopia at the First London Design Biennale - Photo 7 of 7 - Block printed on satin ground, continuous paper (1840–70).

Block printed on satin ground, continuous paper (1840–70).

The London Design Biennale will run from September 7 to 27. For more information, visit the website; to learn more about the Immersion Room, click here.

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