First Look at Ini Archibong’s Pavilion of the African Diaspora for London Design Biennale

The Pavilion will provide a much needed space on the global stage centered on the voices and contributions of the African Diaspora. Image by Jori Brown and Maxwell Engelmann for LMNO Creative.

Switzerland-based designer Ini Archibong has revealed his design for the Pavilion of the African Diaspora, a space where past, present, and future will come together at the London Design Biennale under the festival’s 2021 theme of “Resonance.” Designed in partnership with Zena Howard, principal and managing partner at Perkins and Will, and Tamara Houston, founder and managing partner of ICON MANN, the Pavilion celebrates the rich evolution of African heritage and the contributions of Black creators with a series of panels, educational experiences, and social events curated around Black excellence and addressing issues of reparations, repair, representation, and storytelling.

The Pavilion is set to debut at the historic Somerset House in London from June 1-27, 2021, and will go on to tour internationally through 2023. Programming will be guided by what Archibong and his team have dubbed the “High Council,” an advisory group comprised of global creatives, ambassadors, and curators, including Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech, among many others.

In seeking to represent a connection to the continent of Africa and its contributions to global economies, Archibong references the shapes and textures of the conch, known as Triton’s horn for it’s hopeful sounding call, and cowrie shells, which were historically used as currency. Image by Jori Brown and Maxwell Engelmann for LMNO Creative.
Archibong views the Pavilion as an opportunity to use design as a catalyst for critical conversations around race and equality. Image by Jori Brown and Maxwell Engelmann for LMNO Creative.
During the Biennale, the Pavilion will feature 10 days of specialized talks, curated one-on-one interviews, exclusive panel discussions, and interactive experiences. Image by Jori Brown and Maxwell Engelmann for LMNO Creative.
The space will host a world premiere performance choreographed by Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Image by Jori Brown and Maxwell Engelmann for LMNO Creative.
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