Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one
The 5th Istanbul Design Biennial brings together ideas and projects that seek to define a new role for design based on empathy. As a mediator of emotions and feelings, design is presented here as a practice that takes care as its main purpose. Designers adopt sensitive, diplomatic, sometimes therapeutic functions, with the aim of connecting us with one another but also with the world around us, with other species, with microorganisms, soil, water and even the universe.
Aspiring to carve out a space of responsibility and nourish a culture of attachment towards the more-than-human, this biennial explores designs for multiple bodies, dimensions and perspectives. The projects on display encourage us to rethink practices of care and civility at this critical moment in time, and to collectively build new systems and structures for reconnecting. The biennial offers critical tools and alternative pathways in face of urgent climate and economic crises, a general state of social deprivation and an exhausted global industrial model. Designs for more than one are those that take into consideration not just their immediate user or client, but the many constituents and complex entanglements inherent to any design process.
The 5th Istanbul Design Biennial is curated by Mariana Pestana with Sumitra Upham and Billie Muraben. The graphic identity is by Studio Maria João Macedo, the exhibition design is by Future Anecdotes and the sound design is by Maxwell Sterling. The Young Curators Group are Nur Horsanalı, Ulya Soley and Eylül Şenses.
Curatorial Team
Mariana Pestana is an architect and curator interested in critical social practice and the role of fiction in re-imagining futures for an age marked by technological progress and an ecological crisis. She co-founded the collective The Decorators, an interdisciplinary practice that makes collaborative public realm interventions and cultural programmes, currently design fellows at Stanley Picker Gallery. Previously Mariana worked as a curator at the Department of Architecture, Design and Digital at the Victoria and Albert Museum and lectured at Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, and Royal College of Arts. Recently, she co-curated the exhibitions The Future Starts Here, at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2018) and Eco Visionaries: Art and Architecture After the Anthropocene at MAAT (2018), Eco Visionaries: Towards an Interspecies Future at Matadero (2019), and a third iteration of the latter at The Royal Academy (2019). She was the curator of the exhibitions The Real and Other Fictions for Close, Closer, Lisbon Architecture Triennale (2013) and This Time Tomorrow for the V&A at the World Economic Forum (2016). She curated Fiction Practice, the Young Curators Lab for Porto Design Biennale 2019. Pestana holds a PhD in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Billie Muraben (Assistant Curator & Deputy Editor) is a writer, editor and lecturer based in London. She has written for Artsy, Disegno, Elephant, Eye, Maharam Stories, Port and Varoom among other publications, and was previously Online Editor of The Gourmand. Her work is informed by an interest in design by its broadest definition, and challenging the spaces, places and practices that we privilege in the context of art and design. Of British/Turkish descent, she has a particular interest in practices rooted in the Eastern Mediterranean. She’s previously written about television as a potential site of distribution for art practice; postmodern architecture and ruin value; and dancing water fountains as monumental symbols of power. She teaches on the Experience & Environment platform of BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, and previously taught MA Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art and BA Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. She is currently Editorial Advisor on the third edition of A Line which Forms a Volume, a publication and symposium on design research by MA Graphic Media Design at London College of Communication. She holds an MA in Visual Communication from the RCA.

Sumitra Upham (Curator of Programmes) is a London-based curator working at the intersection of art, design and technology. She is currently Senior Curator of Public Programmes at the Design Museum where she is responsible for public programming, residencies and temporary projects. Previously, she was Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Design Curator at Coin Street Community Builders, and part of the exhibitions team at White Cube, London. Last year she sat on the curatorial committee for London Festival of Architecture 2018.
Exhibition Design
Future Anecdotes works collectively, with a strong interest in building narratives and spaces. The group has been investigating issues of display, exhibition-making, publication and public-action since 2010. Future Anecdotes have undertaken design collaborations for exhibitions such as The Way Beyond Art (2018-2021) the permanent collection display for Van Abbemuseum, and the accompanying userspaces titled Werksalon; Trespassing Modernities (2013) at SALT and The City of Tomorrow (2019-2020), a travelling exhibition on Soviet Modernisms in Yerevan, Minsk, and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Future Anecdotes were also the authors of the Reading Room at the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial.
Visual Identity

Maria João Macedo has been establishing her graphic design practice around books and visual identities since 2008. Her approach prioritizes content over signature, where conversation and exchange play a crucial role. Working mainly with artists, curators and cultural institutions, her studio is responsible for the new visual identity of Culturgest (since 2018), the publication series devoted to the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum Collection (since 2014), and several books with artists such as Von Calhau, Bruno Pacheco, Vasco Barata, Alberto Carneiro or Nairy Baghramian. She is also a founding member and head of the editorial programme of Sismógrafo, a non-profit art space curating and presenting contemporary art exhibitions in Porto since 2014.

Sound Design

Maxwell Sterling is a sound designer, composer and artist. He favours collaborative projects with artists such as Tai Shani, film maker Ivan Olita and fashion studios like SHOWstudio. His work explores how narrative can be conveyed through sound – exploring and exploiting what the ear can reveal. Working with a variety of acoustic instrumentation, through to more modern forms of synthesis, Maxwell’s work revels in the blurring of real and synthetic. He has released two LPs, Hollywood Medieval and Laced With Rumour: Loud-Speaker Of Truth and has a third coming in 2021 on label AD 93.

Young Curators Group

Nur Horsanalı graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University, Industrial Product Design department and holds an MA in Product and Spatial Design from Aalto University in Finland. After her studies, she continued to work as a research assistant at Aalto University, and contributed to the Finnish Pavilion in XXII Triennale di Milano as a curatorial assistant. Horsanalı’s interests revolve around material culture, vernacular design and crafts. Her research Halletmek was a part of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. 

Ulya Soley works at Pera Museum as a collection supervisor and contributes to the Museum’s exhibitions and publications as a curator and editor. She completed her MA in Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, and her BA in Art History and Psychology at McGill University. Recently, she curated the exhibition How shall we dress for the occasion? organised by Protocinema at 601 Artspace in New York. Her past curatorial projects include You Look Familiar as part of the British Council’s Curatorial Residency Program, Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry and Bring Your Own Beamer at Pera Museum, and Stereo-Reality as part of Proto5533’s emerging curators programme. Her writing appeared in printed and online publications such as Pine Magazine, UQ, The Believer Logger, The Rationale, Istanbul Art News, Art Unlimited, K24 and Borderless. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).

Eylül Şenses was born in Istanbul in 1991. She graduated from Kabataş High School and completed her undergraduate studies in 2015 at METU, Department of Architecture. She participated in various projects as part of the design collective Plankton Project. She worked in Design Atelier Kartal between 2016 and 2018 as a programme coordinator. In 2020, she completed the M.Sc. Programme in Architectural and Urban Studies at Kadir Has University. She was the operations associate at the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, and was a part of various research projects within SALT and KHAS. She is currently working as the public programme associate for the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial.

Critical Cooking Show: 2050+; BUREAU (Daniel Zamarbide) with Chef Walter El Nagar with Filipe Felizardo; Vivian Caccuri; Linda Schilling Cuellar; depatriarchise design, Mayar El-Bakry and Romi Lee; Dirty Furniture Magazine; Laila Gohar; Ben Goldner and Emma Leigh Macdonald; Ilana Harris-Babou; Nelly Ben Hayoun & Chef Rabah Ourrad; Asako Iwama, Iris Lacoudre, Camille Sineau; Luiza Prado de O. Martins; Valeria Meiller & Agustin Schang; MOLD and Yardy World; Mutfak مطبخ Workshop; Mariana Sanchez Salvador & Rain Wu; Zuri Camille de Souza; Ayşenaz Toker and Merve Tuna; Laura Wilson

Library of Land and Sea: Dele Adeyemo; Black Athena Collective; Luigi Coppola, Vivien Sansour and Pelin Tan; Counterspace; Aslıhan Demirtaş + UrbanAgrIst; FRAUD; theOtherDada; Anna Puigjaner, MAIO; TiriLab; Aslı Uludağ

New Civic Rituals: Eli Bensusan, Bits to Atoms + BeirutMakers, DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) / Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti, Dansbana!, Kyriaki Goni, Marti Guixé, public works with Freddie Wiltshire and Billy Adams, The Rodina, SKREI with Francisca Sottomayor & Sofia Magalhães, Soft Baroque, Studio Ossidiana, Soraia Gomes Teixeira, Orkan Telhan + elii (A project by IMNA)

Empathy Sessions & Satellite Projects: Paula Gaetano Adi; atlas Harran Design Team; Emmy Bacharach; Meriem Bennani; Berliner Festspiele / Immersion; Calum Bowden; Ben Thorp Brown; Ibiye Camp; Jawa El Khash; Sophie Krier and Erik Wong; Martina Muzi; Sophia Psarra, Uta Staiger, Claudia Sternberg; Alice dos Reis; Henriette Waal, Lucia Babina, Mevce Ciraci and Kathi Sterzig