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Nieuwe Instituut commissions Dutch Pavilion for the London Design Biennale

Nieuwe Instituut is commissioning the Dutch Pavilion at the London Design Biennale, which takes place from 1 to 25 June 2023 in monumental Somerset House, together with the Embassy of the Netherlands in London. Spatial designer and editor Colin Keays has been appointed as curator. Nieuwe Instituut is also acting as overall artistic director of the London Design Biennale.

18 April 2023

Sketch of the Dutch Pavilion. Image: Colin Keays

As artistic director of the fourth edition of the London Design Biennale, the Nieuwe Instituut experiments with an approach that goes beyond the usual format of individual commissions. Under the heading The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations, the institute considers the biennale a ‘testing ground’, that aims to encourage all the participating pavilions to engage in international collaborations.

The Global Game, an actual game specially developed by the Amsterdam-based ‘city gaming’ practice Play the City, stimulates and facilitates these collaborations. Using this ‘online dating app’, the countries and territories along which the London Design Biennale is usually divided are encouraged to search for common ground. The aim is to explore the possibilities of transforming the biennale, with its national and territorial pavilions, into an alternative geopolitical landscape driven not by conflict or competition, but rather cooperation.

Dutch Pavilion: Out of Joint

Nieuwe Instituut has appointed spatial designer and editor Colin Keays to respond to this theme as curator of the Dutch Pavilion. His exhibition Out of Joint focuses on disorientation, as a response to the social disruption and imbalance caused by the many global crises of our time. With a constantly changing installation distributed throughout Somerset House, the venue of the biennale becomes a kind of microcosm in which disorientation and reorientation co-exist. Keays collaborated with the following designers to realise the project: Fabulous Future (general art direction and experimental activation of the scenography); Studio Verter (exhibition architecture and production); Tim Teven Studio (materialisation and production of all objects); and Jeanine van Berkel (graphic design).

Further information

The London Design Biennale and the Dutch Pavilion will be on display from 1 to 25 June 2023 at Somerset House in London. For more information, see

Note for editors, not for publication

The opening of the London Design Biennale will take place on Thursday 1 June. The organisation will arrange a press view.

In addition, the Dutch pavilion will be opened by Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General of Culture and Media at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), on Friday 2 June at 10 am local time. Brunch will be served. Members of the press are cordially invited to attend. A visit to the Dutch Pavilion at a later time in June can also be arranged.

To register for the opening, or for other questions and requests, please contact press officer Robin van Essel, +31 (0)6 3803 9218

About the Nieuwe Instituut

Nieuwe Instituut is the Netherlands’ national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture. Based in Rotterdam, a global centre for design innovation, the institute’s mission is to embrace the power and potential of new thinking, exploring past, present and future ideas in order to imagine, test and enact a better tomorrow. Encouraging visitors of all ages to question, rethink and contribute, the institute’s exhibitions, public programmes, research, and wide-reaching national and international initiatives provide a testing ground for collaboration with leading designers, thinkers and diverse audiences, critically addressing the urgent questions of our times. 

In addition to housing the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, the institute manages the 1933 Sonneveld House, a leading example of Dutch Functionalist architecture, as part of its campus in Rotterdam’s Museumpark. 

In 2022, the Nieuwe Instituut became the world’s first Zoöp, a ground-breaking model through which all areas of the museum’s operations and programming are informed by its impact and benefit to other forms of life. The institute also serves as commissioner of the Dutch pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition by La Biennale di Venezia and, in 2023, will act as the Artistic Director of the London Design Biennale in Somerset House (June 1-25, 2023).

About the Embassy of the Netherlands

The Embassy of the Netherlands in the United Kingdom is a representation of the Dutch government in the UK. It maintains relationships with British governmental and non-governmental organisations, brokers new connections, and promotes Dutch interests in the UK. One of the spheres in which the Embassy operates is the creative and cultural sector. The UK is a priority country in the Dutch government's International Cultural Policy. To this end, the Embassy in London supports cultural and creative activities in the UK in which artists and designers from the Netherlands are involved, with the aim of giving Dutch culture a strong position in the UK, supporting the bilateral relationship with Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and promoting the Netherlands as a place where creatives are continuously seeking solutions to a wide variety of societal challenges.

About Play the City

Play the City leads the way in applying games to complex, multiplayer city challenges. It is a global practice that supports public and private parties on spatial development processes through city gaming. As a multidisciplinary team of technologists, designers and social scientists with an international outlook, it embraces an approach at the intersection of practice and research. This allows it to undertake a large range of projects, from theoretical research to pragmatic applications.