Fear Of Snakes And Little Animals


Somerset House

Jonathan Monaghan, Back to the Garden

With London Design Festival kicking off, it is indeed a good time to reflect on its many events, and look deeper into a selection of the themes that are reoccuring this year.
At a brief glance of the programme we can already see that ‘utopia’ plays a monumental role in the centring of all topics addressed in 2016. Although this word is constantly in use when thinking about design and architecture, it seems that 2016 has seen an immense return of the term. Perhaps because we’ve realised that none of our utopian dreaming seen in pretty much the entire 20th century were reached - and more so, they seem to all stand today as symbols of dystopia (the beloved intellectual younger sibling of the word).
So with countless failed attempts to reach this heavenly place, why are we still trying? Aren’t we wise enough to understand its ‘utopian’ ideals? And that the word in and of itself addresses a notion that can never be reached.
Is it not then a possibility that utopias are the problem?
It’s true that as mere mortals our capabilities are limited, and a strive for something larger than us, larger than our own limited realities, is a motivating factor in our collective goals. Aspiring for unreachable goals is what in fact keeps us on our toes, trying.
But what are the side effects of a global goal we are never reaching, constantly in a blurry hangover from? Does a form of failure truly keep on us our toes, or does it slowly sieve down into a sense of despair, surrender and passivity? Is this perhaps where we all ‘give up’ and cue to get the new iPhone?
Landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis will look at the idea of utopian thinking as the destroyer of worlds, rather than its builder in his talk at Somerset House. Presenting a case for design of our future, through respectfully remaining on the ground - however distressful it may be - rather than looking up at the clouds for our answers.