For the first time ever, a Latvian artist has participated in the 2018 London Design Biennale – and has won one of four gold medals, taking the prize for the best design…
Latvia has been represented by Arthur Analts, with his interactive installation Matter to Matter developed in his multidisciplinary design company Variant Studio . His works are exhibited at the biennial event with the support of the Rietumu Bank Charity Fund.
Born in Riga in 1991, Analts studied his craft in his home city before moving to London. There, he completed his degree in Product Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Art And Design. Now, he spends his time between London and Riga.
Analts’ most recent exhibitions have been showcased by the Atelier Lachaert Dhanis (Tielrode, Belgium) and Royal Academy of Arts (London). His works feature in the collection of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga as well as in several private collections across Europe.
Arthur Analts encapsulates a new, entrepreneurial generation of young Latvians born after the collapse of the Soviet Union – those with a fundamental respect for nature, a curiosity for technology and a positive, international outlook bridging cultural differences between East and West. Analts’ work takes a critical view of political, cultural and environmental issues. While working in various media, his methodology is consistent – the subject matter of each body of work determines the material and the form, but the outcome is always emotionally charged.
London Design Biennale 2018
Building on the enormous success of the inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, over 40 countries, cities and territories have been welcomed to the 2nd edition of this prestigious global event in response to the theme of ‘Emotional States’.
A highlight on the global cultural design calendar, the Biennale sees some of the world’s most exciting and ambitious designers, innovators and cultural bodies gather in the capital to celebrate the universal power of design and explore the role of design in our collective futures. Taking over the entirety of Somerset House, entries interrogate how design affects every aspect of people’s lives – the way we live and how we live – and influences our very being, emotions and experiences.
Latvians live in harmony with nature. 52% of the country is covered by forests which are surrounded by lakes, rivers and the Baltic Sea. Matter to Matter reflects on the Latvian relationship with nature with his use of materials, wood and water, and the sophisticated recreation of a natural process. The result is an interactive platform for the transition of matter to matter: gas to liquid.
Inspiration came from Arthur Analts’ native city of Riga and its surrounding forests; an area which has its own unique atmosphere and climate due to proximity to the Baltic Sea. This capital city has a constant humidity, or moisture, which often leads to condensation. Analts recreates this physical process using a large green-glazed glass surface. The visually laconic glass wall with some ‘magical effect’ will invite visitors to communicate and interact by leaving their own message.
The installation is a calm, meditative space; a floor of Latvian bark and a large bench of solid birch add a sensory experience, allowing everybody to feel something of Latvia’s sprawling forests. Besides, this art object reflects the state of Latvia, which despite being in a constant state of transition, has a serene and solid core. Latvians are known for being resilient and reserved, their deep roots in Baltic history evidenced by the Latvian language, one of the oldest in Europe.
The apparent simplicity of the design conceals a refined technological solution behind the main feature (the large glazed surface). All elements of the exhibition were developed and manufactured in Latvia, a country increasingly recognized for its ability to harness innovation.
Latvia’s leading innovation in sustainable forestry ensures the continuation of natural ecosystems, creating a benchmark for global ecological developments. Analts identifies that Latvian design, architecture and technology in the 21st century have to be socially and environmentally responsible to maintain Latvia’s coexistence with nature.
Arthur Analts commented:-
“With the rapid development of modern technologies and cities, it is important to be aware of our interaction with and impact on the natural environment, which is essential to Latvian culture.”
Inga Shina, Chairwoman of the Board at Rietumu Bank Charity Fund continues:-
“We are very happy to see our young designer succeed and his work earn praise at such a high-profile event as London Design Biennale. We are pleased that the creative concept and philosophy of his work have been understood and accepted at an international level. Such recognition also means that the best artists of Latvia think and create in the contemporary context while maintaining their originality, freshness, connection to nature of their homeland. This is increasingly rare in the modern-day, ever standardized world. Arthur Analts’ achievement is an excellent present to Latvia on its centenary. I wish Arthur every success and hope that we will have the opportunity to cooperate on new projects…”.
In 2013, Arthur Analts together with Rudolph Strelis founded Variant, a multidisciplinary design studio based in London and Riga. The studio practices contemporary design, architecture and installation with high added value to each project, whether emotional or purely functional. Innovative experiments with materials and their potential, new technologies, production techniques and scale are key drivers for the ambitious company. Both Arthur and Rudolph take part in every step of the project, starting from research and brainstorming to product development, manufacturing and quality control. Variant Studio is currently working on several projects, including competitions and self-initiated designs.
The London Design Biennale (featuring ‘Matter to Matter’ by Arthur Analts and Variant Studio on behalf of Latvia) will be featured at Somerset House, London, until 23rd September.
[Credits: Feature image – Part of the Arthur Analts Matter to Matter exhibition at London Design Biennale 2018 (Latvian National Museum of Art); Latvian National Museum of Art Press Office; Rietumu Labdaribas Fonds Bank Press Office]