July 13, 2021 - Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana - Super Vernaculars
e-flux Architecture
July 13, 2021
July 13, 2021

Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana

Photo: Paola Pieroni.

Super Vernaculars
Design for a regenerative future
May 26–September 29, 2022

Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana
Pot na Fužine 2
SI- 1000 Ljubljana
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm



The 27th edition of BIO, Europe’s longest-standing design biennale (1963), staged and held by Ljubljana’s Museum of Architecture and Design since 1972, will be curated by Jane Withers, a leading design curator, writer, and consultant based in London.

Global expansion and the pursuit of profit at the planet’s expense have precipitated the climate crisis and accelerated a massive imbalance between humanity and the natural world. Super Vernaculars, BIO 27’s central theme, explores a growing and ambitious movement that takes inspiration from vernacular and indigenous architecture and design traditions around the world to shape a radical vision for a more resilient and responsive future.

In contrast to our extractive “dig and dump” economy, vernacular practices are rooted in regenerative systems. The term is generally associated with traditional architecture and design practices, but the Super Vernaculars approach is in no way reactionary or regressive. During BIO 27, Super Vernaculars will bring together designers and thinkers who are exploring alternative narratives as inspiration for 21st-century innovation. In our current period of seismic change and improvisation, this call to explore cultures and wisdom traditions largely ignored in the modern era is a crucial catalyst for designing a more equitable future.

“I am absolutely delighted to be invited to curate the next edition of BIO and further its ambitions to explore the dialogue between global currents in design and regional impact. Super Vernaculars is a chance to explore a promising movement in contemporary design that looks to vernacular traditions and largely non-western cultures as a playbook for the future. Clearly many of the ways we do things in industrialized economies have fuelled the climate catastrophe, and if we are to engineer a sustainable revolution, we need to adopt a different mindset and values. Growing interest in vernacular practices and TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) is providing a rich seam of inspiration for contemporary designers looking to regenerative systems that live with the earth rather than from it. For BIO 27, the focus will be on exploring how local design teams are responding to and shaping these global narratives in a regional context,” says Jane Withers, curator of BIO 27.

Exploratory, interdisciplinary, and intercultural, Super Vernaculars will not be a conventional design or architecture show. Instead, it is envisaged as a collection of stories told through case studies that demonstrate how these ideas serve as a springboard for contemporary innovation. As well as showcasing projects from different corners of the globe, visitors will encounter a series of live commissions that aim to engage the next generation of designers and citizens, and demonstrate the potential this approach has to address regional and global issues at scale and to rank among the world’s credible contemporary approaches to climate change.

BIO 27 amplifies the biennale’s strategy to reflect on and deepen inquiries into the future while strengthening local impacts. The emphasis will be on design that responds to local needs and context, and commissioned projects will draw on local conditions, resources, and materials. As the environmental impact of hosting international cultural events becomes clear, BIO has embedded a commitment to sustainability in its mission and strives to become a sustainable cultural producer, insisting on an approach that manages and reduces our environmental footprint. The role of design in relation to environmental and climate issues is a common thread that will connect several upcoming editions of the biennale.

The Super Vernaculars exhibition and design commissions hosted in MAO, Ljubljana, in May 2022 will be accompanied by a programme of affiliated events around the city in response to the Super Vernaculars theme. We kindly invite you to join the super vernacular movement and join us in shaping BIO 27 by attending events and participating in the calls that will take place from September 2021 to September 2022.

International Press Office - BIO
Maša Špiler, masa.spiler [​at​] mao.si

Press kit

Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana
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