After a year’s delay, the 20th Serpentine Pavilion is now open in London’s Kensington Gardens. Designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, led by 30-year-old architect Sumayya Vally, this year’s project is based on ‘past and present places of meeting, organising and belonging across London.’
The striking structure is built of reclaimed steel, cork and timber and features a range of textures and pinky-brown hues that are inspired by the architecture and light of the city.
The youngest architect to be commissioned for the annual showcase, Vally has drawn design inspiration from gathering spaces across the city, including markets, restaurants, places of worship such as Fazl Mosque and bookshops. ‘My practice, and this Pavilion, is centred around amplifying and collaborating with multiple and diverse voices from many different histories,’ she said.
For the first time, the commission extends beyond the leafy surrounds of Hyde Park, as four fragments have been installed in partner organizations across London. (New Beacon Books in Finsbury Park; the Tabernacle in Notting Hill; the Albany arts centre in Deptford; and Valence Library in Barking and Dagenham.)
The Pavilion also plays host to Serpentine’s popular Live Progamme, including Listening to the City, a specially commissioned sound programme featuring work by artists including Ain Bailey and Jay Bernard.
A pioneer of modernist design, Charlotte Perriand worked across buildings, interiors and furniture — perhaps most notably chairs — and championed the idea that better design could create a better society.
Like many women creatives of the 20th century, however, she was overshadowed by her more famous male collaborators, including Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé.
Perriand’s reputation is on the rise again now, though. Her auction prices are soaring, and high-profile museums are showing keen interest in her work. (A hugely popular solo show at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2019 drew praise from critics around the world.)
Now she’s the subject of a new retrospective at the Design Museum, her first significant presentation in London for 25 years, which seeks to re-establish her as one of the most important designers of the 20th century.
Featuring sketches, photographs, scrapbooks, prototypes, final pieces and faithful reconstructions of some of her most famous interiors, it sheds light on Perriand’s creative process across a career that spanned most of a century. It also explores her life as a fiercely independent woman, designer, sportswoman and global traveller. In doing so, it puts her legacy under the spotlight once more.