Chile returns to participate in London Design Biennale’s fourth edition, which takes place in Somerset House from 1 – 25 June 2023.

Reflecting on the complexities of Chile’s logging industry, Borrowed Matter/ Materia Prestada proposes novel uses for a wood bioproduct by featuring seven suspended bio-textile works, each handmade using cellulose films and cotton yarns. The installation demonstrates the versatility of cellulose – a naturally sourced, biodegradable and renewable biopolymer sourced from wood – along with traditional weaving practices. Partially submerged in water, the central textile work will gradually biodegrade throughout the Biennale to reveal hidden patterns beneath the surface. The pavilion aims to explore the properties and aesthetics of a low-cost material associated with the extraction of natural resources, adding value by linking it with traditional techniques, tactile narratives and new digital technologies.

Borrowed Matter/ Materia Prestada is a multi-sensory installation comprised of seven suspended bio-textile works which will gradually biodegrade to reveal hidden patterns throughout the Biennale. The installation invites us to reflect on the complexities of the logging industry – one of Chile’s largest exports – to demonstrate new uses for cellulose, a naturally sourced, biodegradable, and renewable biopolymer sourced from wood.

Selected by the London Design Biennale jury to represent Chile, Sofía Guridi, a designer and researcher specialising in smart textiles at the Aalto University Bioinnovation Centre in Finland, collaborates with curator and cultural manager Juan Pablo Vergara.

Hand-woven using film strips of carboxymethylcellulose and natural fibres, the textile canvases integrate biomaterials with traditional weaving practices. For Sofía Guridi, this is a way of continuing an existing tradition by “incorporating contemporary processes and narratives." The featured textile works aim to propose a conversation about circularity, material sources, their transformation, and both functional and aesthetic characteristics. The pavilion demonstrates that “it is possible to add value to a low-cost material associated with extracting natural resources, such as cellulose, by linking it with traditional techniques, tactile narratives and new digital technologies.”

The pavilion creates a visceral experience through textures, colours and sounds, with sounds activated through tactile woven sensors made with conductive yarns.

We want to embrace the public in a calm space, where they can connect with the forest through textiles, and feel the importance of a slow and conscious design process.

(Juan Pablo Vergara)

The theme of the 2023 edition of the London Design Biennale is The Global Game: Remapping Collaboration, proposed by curator Aric Chen from Het Nieuwe Instituut de Rotterdam. The pavilions bring together disciplines, methodologies and territories to address the current reality of the socio-environmental crisis andthe effects of climate change. Borrowed Matter / Materia Prestada connects Chile, where wood is produced at an industrial level; Finland, the site of Sofía Guridi’s cellulose research; and London, the city where the pieces will be exhibited and biodegraded.

Sofía Guridi is a design researcher focused on the intersection of textiles, electronics and biomaterials for the creation of interactive surfaces. Linking traditional knowledge with material experimentation, her experience ranges from artistic installations to applied research in health and education in collaboration with different organizations in Latin America and Europe. Her research is motivated by the new possibilities of communication achieved through textile interfaces and their relationship with the human body. She is currently part of the Fashion/Textiles Futures research group and Bioinnovation Center at Aalto University Finland, where she is pursuing her PhD in sustainable smart textiles.

Juan Pablo Vergara is a cultural manager and curator with 10 years of experience in the implementation of design and visual arts projects at a national and international level. His projects seek to be collaborative and transdisciplinary, focusing on the development of audiences and mediation. Since 2020, he has directed Revista Materia, a communication platform dedicated to environmental and experimental design that has been awarded with two funds from the Chilean Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage (FONDART). In 2021, he was the winner of the contest to represent Chile at the Venice Art Biennale, together with curator Camila Marambio. Vergara is currently the executive director of Fundación Ruta País.