Latvia Earns the London Design Biennale 2018 Best Design Medal with Arthur Analts Interactive Installation Matter to Matter

On Monday, 3 September 2018, Somerset House, an international centre of creative industries and art events, hosted the award ceremony of the 2nd London Design Biennale, where Latvia received the Best Design Medal.

On 3 September at 17.00, the 2018 London Design Biennale (LDB) was officially opened with the theme Emotional States. For the first time Latvia takes part in this prestigious international design festival with a project produced by the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA) and its department the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (MDAD) – the interactive installation Matter to Matter by artist Arthur Analts and interdisciplinary design enterprise Variant Studio. The participation is part of Latvian Centenary Programme with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, Embassy of the Republic of Latvia to the United Kingdom and Rietumu Bank Charity Fund.

Forty countries from five continents take part in the 2nd London Design Biennale, with their creative and provocative proposals demonstrating how design can influence and direct our emotions, challenge, delight, surprise, and educate. The exhibition opens its doors to visitors on 4 September and continues through 23 September. A special day dedicated to Latvia will take place at the biennale on 18 September.

Dr. Christopher Turner, Artistic Director of London Design Biennale, Victoria & Albert Museum Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital: “The Design Biennale demonstrates that, despite Brexit, London is an open city. We are no evangelicals to think that design can save the world, but we believe that it can make it a little better.”

Inese Baranovska, curator of the project, Head of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design: “LDB is a new, promising biennale that makes design be considered in broader categories than a beautiful chair or lamp. I was convinced that Latvia must definitely take part in this forum, that it is a place were we can get noticed. Arthur Analts’ laconic installation impressed both the jury and visitors, received many good words from other participants in the exhibition.”

Arthur Analts, author of the idea of the exposition, laureate of the London Design Biennale 2018: “I would like to express my gratitude to Ministry of Culture and the office of the Centenary of the Republic of Latvia for the opportunity to participate in this significant design forum, and many thanks to the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design for their trust! Latvia has something to say in design.”

Inga Šīna, Chairperson of the Board of Rietumu Bank Charity Fund: “We are delighted about the success of our young designer and the high assessment of his work at such an important event as the London Design Biennale. It is especially pleasing that the creative idea and philosophy of his object are understood and appreciated at the highest international level. This recognition also demonstrates that the best Latvian artists think and work in the contemporary context, simultaneously retaining originality, uniqueness and a close connection to the nature of their native land. That is a rarity in the increasingly unified world of today. Arthur Analts’ achievements are an outstanding present to Latvia in the year of its anniversary. I would like to wish him further success and hope that we will have opportunities to collaborate on new projects in the future.”


London Design Biennale awards four medals to the best contributions from the participating countries, cities and territories. The first three medals of LDB 2018 being selected by the Biennale’s International Jury – a group of 14 world-leading design experts and influencers including Paola Antonella, Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), James Lingwood MBE, Co-Director of Artangel, and Jonathan Reekie CBE, Director of Somerset House Trust.

The winners of the 2nd London Design Biennale are:

•    The London Design Biennale 2018 Medal, awarded to the most outstanding overall contribution (supported by Poly Culture Group), goes to EGYPT for Modernist Indignation, an elegy for a rapidly disappearing culture, seen through the prism of the first Arabic design magazine.

•    The London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal, awarded for the most inspiring interpretation of the 2018 theme (supported by Panasonic), goes to USA for Face Values, which invites visitors to use their facial expressions to control sound and graphic displays, instigating provocative conversations between humans and machines.

•    The London Design Biennale 2018 Best Design Medal, awarded to the contribution with the most exceptional design (supported by Princess Yachts), goes to LATVIA. The Latvian pavilion, Matter to Matter, is a meditation on architecture and technology’s interaction with nature and was inspired by the importance of socially responsible and environmentally-friendly design. The installation involves a giant wall of condensation, where everybody can leave “fleeting messages” that quickly disappear, which nod to the transient and ever-changing nature of emotions.

Poland and China received commendations, and the final winner, voted for by visitors, who will earn the London Design Biennale 2018 Public Medal is to be announced on 19 September. To cast your vote for your favourite country pavilion online, head here:

As part of the exhibition, Room 17 of Somerset House is dedicated to the medals and this year’s winners. The 2018 medals have been designed by East London-based jewellery studio Shimell and Madden and inspired by geometric shapes. They are made of metal, which has been manipulated to create four, warped circular shapes, which are each “subtly different” to represent the “intricate factors that distinguish us and our emotions,” say the Biennale organisers. Each medal also has a mirrored surface, to reference the idea of facial expressions and emotion once again.


Matter to Matter is an installation which uses natural materials (wood, water) and reflects on the role of nature in Latvian culture and daily life. Author of the art object, Arthur Analts drew inspiration from his native city Riga and the surrounding forests, which are affected by the proximity of the Baltic Sea, creating a unique atmosphere and climate. In the work on display it is embodied by the wall of green glass, which through experimental technologies ensures natural transition of water from the state of gas to liquid. With the help of a “magical” effect, the visually simple glass surface becomes an interactive platform for communication, which reconstructs a familiar physical phenomenon – condensation. The visitors of the biennale are invited to leave their own message on the glass surface, just like in childhood when drawing on dewy windows.

Part of the installation is Statistical Bench, on which everyone can take a seat in order to enjoy the meditative magic of the dewy green wall. Timber is Latvia’s biggest export; the functional bench simultaneously educates visitors about Latvian forests and the country’s economy: it has been made from the wood of 13 species of forest crops growing in Latvia according to the percentage of covered area. The exhibition is accompanied by a special unique passport-format publication, which tells about the history of Latvia, Latvian design and the certain project.

Promotional video for Arthur Analts’ interactive installation Matter to Matter:


Arthur Analts (Artūrs Analts, 1991) is a Latvian artist and designer. Following studies of sculpture at the Riga Secondary School of Design and Art (2011) he successfully graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts (2014), where he specialized in product design. In 2013, Arthur Analts together with Rudolph Strelis (Rūdolfs Strēlis) established the Variant, an international and multidisciplinary design studio based in both Riga and London.

Arthur Analts realises his ideas in design, sculpture, architecture, graphic art, object and exhibition design. He has taken part in exhibitions since 2013. In recent years the artist’s objects have earned first prizes in various competitions. The author’s works are held in the collection of the LNMA / Museum of Decorative Arts and Design and several private collections throughout Europe. Arthur Analts’ most recent exhibitions took place at Atelier Lachaert Dhanis in Tielrode (Belgium) and the Royal Academy of Art in London (United Kingdom).

Arthur Analts’ works critically analyse questions of politics, culture and environment. His object are made in a process based on in-depth research, taking into account innovative experiments with materials, new technologies, production techniques and scale. The artist’s methodology remains constant – every work’s theme determines its material and form, while the result always is emotionally powerful.


Latvian exposition at the London Design Biennale 2018 is expanded by a cultural programme inspiring to discover Latvia closer.

On 18 September as part of the London Design Biennale programme, Latvian Day will take place at the Courtauld Institute of Art (Strand, London WC2R 0RN). Recognised experts in the fields of creative industries, design and social anthropology from Latvia and the UK are invited for active exchange of opinions. The aim of the public discussion is to encourage reflection on socially responsible and sustainable design, the Latvian ecosystem, social involvement as well as ability to bring together the experience of different cultures.

Opening speeches at the event will be delivered by Director of London Design Biennale Sumantro Ghose, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia Dace Melbārde, Director of Investment and Development Agency of Latvia Andris Ozols. The participants of the discussion will be designer, author of the installation Matter to Matter Arthur Analts, curator, author of popular books about questions of urbanism and design PhD Lucy Bullivant (, UK), social anthropologist Dr. Viesturs Celmiņš (Riga Stradiņš University, Latvia), Acting Director of the Environmental Protection Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia, initiator and director of the Nature Concerthall project Dr. sc. ing. Silvija Nora Kalniņš (Latvia). The conversation will be moderated by Artistic Director of London Design Biennale, Victoria & Albert Museum Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital e and Digital Dr. Christopher Turner.

On 23 September at 19.00 and 24 September at 20.00 culture lovers will be offered a unique event with world-renowned Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks’ piano cycle The Seasons presented as an intimate and truly intriguing contemporary dance performance accompanied by live music. The production will take place in an extraordinary acoustic environment – at the depth of 50 feet under ground in the grand entrance to the historical two-centuries-old Thames Tunnel by the Brunel Museum (Railway Ave, London SE16 4LF). The piece with its universal stance about the circle of life in nature and man will be performed by multiple Latvian Grand Music Award laureate, pianist Reinis Zariņš, while the idea will be expressed in movement by choreographer, former soloist at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and dancer with the Northern Ballet, Ballet Rambert and Michael Clark Company Kirill Burlov. Four seasons in music and dance will reflect on human life from youth to maturity paralleling imaginative scenes of nature.

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