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BIO27 Super Vernaculars

26 May - 29 Sep 2022

MAO, Ljubljana

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Curator: Jane Withers; assistant: Ria Hawthorn; Head of BIO27: Anja Radovič


The 27th edition of BIO Ljubljana (BIO27), the oldest and one of the leading design biennials in the world, opening on 26 May under the curatorship of Jane Withers, brings together forward-thinking and environmentally conscious designers, architects, thinkers and researchers from around the globe.


OPENING: May 26, 2022

Based at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) and created in cooperation with, the Centre for Creativity Slovenia (CzK), the Biennial comprises the Super Vernaculars exhibition; a presentation of the five production platform commissions; and a vibrant programme of talks, workshops and engaging events. A city-wide satellite programme of exhibits and events will be announced in April.


  • Introduction to the Super Vernaculars theme

The introductory section of the BIO27 exhibition is staged as a Wunderkammer of objects and ideas that illuminate the beliefs underpinning this contemporary movement. Drawing on works from Slovenian national heritage and beyond, it shows how vernacular practices inspired designers throughout the 20th century and were often an unacknowledged element of modern design. Setting the scene are works by Enzo Mari and Bruno Munari (Italy), alongside Marjetica Potrč (Slovenia), and Adam Štěch (Czech Republic).


  • Negotiating Traditions

Through the works of Carolien Niebling (the Netherlands), Ant Studio (India), Alicja Bielawska + Centrala (Poland), Francesca Sarti of Arabeschi di Latte (Italy), and others, Biennial visitors have an opportunity to explore how contemporary designers are reimagining, adapting and subverting traditional ideas and deep-rooted practices to address contemporary needs and challenges. Super Vernaculars’ third exhibition section showcases various design processes and systems proposed as alternatives to the centralised infrastructures that accommodate our modern lives and, in many cases, are no longer able to sustainably support the requirements of growing populations in a time of climate change. Projects such as Marjan van Aubel’s (the Netherlands) solar panels, new material research by Atelier LUMA (France), and water systems by Ooze Architects (the Netherlands) reveal hidden local-scale processes and rethink them in terms of circular, nature-based systems. Exhibiting at BIO27 are the NGO project Isla Urbana (Mexico), Girjegumpi Sami Library (Norway), Kamikatsu Zero Waste Village and Centre (Japan) and INDUS by Bio-ID Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UK), all of whom present human- and community-centric research and projects that foster social justice and healthy, flourishing communities.


  •  BIO27 Production Platform

BIO27 Super Vernaculars’ production platform produced in cooperation with CzK, features five Slovenian interdisciplinary teams mentored by internationally acclaimed mentors to tackle compelling problems of local communities and the environment. Design collective Krater in dialogue with Atelier LUMA (France) and BC Materials (Belgium) is developing ongoing research into rammed earth architecture to create a teahouse that is situated on the crater-like construction site in the heart of Ljubljana occupied by Krater. Delving into the ‘world of grains’, team Robida.plus based in remote Alpine village Topolò and mentored by designer and food futurist Carolien Niebling (the Netherlands) is drawing on Slovenia’s rich cultural, agricultural and culinary heritage to redesign the Slovenian tradition of buckwheat use. Pjorkkala, the team mentored by Shneel Malik (India), an architect, biodesign researcher and social entrepreneur, is addressing the problem of pollution in natural water sources in Slovenia by creating prototypes for local, nature-based solutions. Adam Štěch, an architectural historian and co-founder of the creative group OKOLO (Czech Republic) is mentoring Garnitura to communicate the architectural legacy of the renowned Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik to new audiences by drawing on the architect’s profoundly human vision for the city of Ljubljana.  Futuring is undertaking an environmental audit of the Super Vernaculars biennial and is guiding the reduction of its environmental impact. Mentored by designer and sustainability expert Sophie Thomas (UK), Futuring is developing an open source toolkit to help BIO27’s design teams to raise their awareness and reduce the impact of their work. The pioneering toolkit will be published and available to designers and cultural institutions globally, sharing the Biennial’s sustainability study for others to build upon.