'Small is Beautiful': discover the India Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2021

As the official Media Partner for the India Pavilion at LDB 2021, STIR brings you a detailed insight into the installation, designed and curated by architect Nisha Mathew Ghosh.

by STIRworldPublished on : May 08, 2021

Building on preceding exhibitions in 2016 and 2018, the latest iteration of the London Design Biennale will revolve around the theme of 'Resonance' - conceptualised by the Artistic Director for the 2021 edition, Es Devlin. Explaining her chosen premise on the biennale's website, the award-winning multidisciplinary artist and designer states, "We live in an age of hyper resonance, the consequences of which are both exhilarating and devastating. Everything we design and everything we produce resonates. Each idea we generate has the power to reach a mass digital audience undreamt of by previous generations, while the lifespans of the physical products we create often endure long beyond our own”.

Designed and curated by renowned Indian architect, Nisha Mathew Ghosh, also the co-founder of Mathew and Ghosh Architects, the India Pavilion at the 2021 London Design Biennale is titled 'Small is Beautiful. A billion stories’. It presents a call to acknowledge the transformative power and role of the 'small’, ‘local’, and 'connected’, in forging the change necessary for India to tackle the pressing issues it faces in the 21st century. These include preserving water, land, and forest resources while ensuring clean air and energy for its citizens. Describing the installation, Nisha Mathew Ghosh says, "It is a coming together of art, craft, design, music, and technology, to reflect the resonances and its complexities of ideas, developed for an ecologically resilient future India and an embedded plea for clean water, clean air, clean earth, clean energy and more forest”.

Architect Nisha Mathew Ghosh, the curator of the India Pavilion at the 2021 London Design Biennale | STIR x Indian Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2021 | STIRworld
Architect Nisha Mathew Ghosh, the curator of the India Pavilion at the 2021 London Design Biennale Image: Mallikarjun Katakol

"As individuals, communities, and organisations have invented and innovated to create little ideas, seminal ideas, and ideas worth building on, this project documents and maps for the first time, an atlas of connected ideas with resonances that have the potential to amplify to large scale impact on the landscape of ideation and implementation," she explains. "The recognition of the scope and scale of these ecological experiments, as connected trajectories, can re-create the tapestry of socio-cultural change needed to bring a paradigmatic shift in lifestyles; even while the kneading-through of the democratic value of ‘’engaging’’ in the large democracy of India, builds a billion ideas," Ghosh elaborates further.

Envisioned as a blueprint for the nation in the years to come, the installation's content ranges from scientific research to architecture, textiles to cleaning brownfields, community movements to state-of-the-art manufacturing, products to garbage, water experiments to craft, and so on. Seminal ideas within these divisions, slice across temporal and spatial domains, coalescing into a body of collective knowledge that forms a manifesto for India's future. "It is hoped that this exhibition will be a catalyst to build ecosystems of collaborative design expertise that harnesses the power of design to address the critical needs of India and the world today," concludes Ghosh.

The decisions we make today have far-reaching effects on the future of our species and that of many others, alongside planet Earth as a whole. Such concerns are especially pertinent in India: a nation of over a billion dreams and voices engaged in an ambitious struggle for socio-economic and infrastructural development while simultaneously haunted and weighed down by the demons of a colonial past. The country is blessed with a rich and diverse cultural legacy, bursting with ancient wisdom as well as innovative, sustainable, and contextually sensitive solutions to the challenges of everyday living - which might provide crucial insights into how the nation can move forward on a sustainable path towards its future.

The third edition of the London Design Biennale will open its doors to an assortment of designers, curators, and institutions from across the world on June 1, 2021, at the Somerset House - a historic, picturesque art and cultural venue overlooking the banks of the River Thames in London. In the wake of the devastating global pandemic, it promises to be a beacon of hope that presents a powerful reminder of design’s far-reaching ability to shape the world for humanity’s betterment.

As the Official Media Partner for the India Pavilion at the 2021 London Design Biennale, STIR will provide extensive coverage and detailed insight into all the ideas, narratives, and key takeaways from the installation through a series of curated articles that highlight the power of ‘Small, Local, and Connected’.

1. Nisha Mathew Ghosh on ‘Small is Beautiful’ at London Design Biennale 2021

Proposal for India Pavilion at this year’s London Design Biennale 2021 | STIR x Indian Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2021 | STIRworld
roposal for India Pavilion at this year’s London Design Biennale 2021 Image: Courtesy of Nisha Mathew Ghosh

In the build up to the biennale’s opening, Indian architect Nisha Mathew Ghosh speaks to STIR about her curatorial work on the India Pavilion - ‘Small Is Beautiful. A billion stories,’ shedding light on the ideas, aspirations, narratives, and trials that aided in bringing it to life.


The India Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2021 has also launched a fundraising campaign with an invitation to become a patron, donor or friend of the installation and beyond. The campaign aims to cover the expenses of the Pavilion, which have presently been managed entirely on loan from the MGsCc Foundation. Part of the proceeds from the fund will go to COVID-affected worker families of ANAH-ANAH - an initiative set by architect and curator Nisha Mathew Ghosh in 2008 to teach economically disadvantaged individuals stainless steel weaving using techniques from basketry.

The Pavilion's organisers comment:

"Thank you in advance for your patronage. This is not in any way compulsory, but we are grateful for your grace in this matter."

One can make contributions through different methods on the website.

Log onto www.sustainabilityidealabs.org and go to FUNDRAISER or

Go directly to https://sustainabilityidealabs.org/fundraiser/

The website will also host all the stories of the London Design Biennale from May 31 onwards for visitors to access. Furthermore, after the show's conclusion, visitors can also connect with anyone involved with the Pavilion if desired.

Watch this space to stay updated on more news and interviews about London Design Biennale and the India Pavilion.


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