Cooper Hewitt in London

Cooper Hewitt wins top honor at London Design Biennale

Judged the most inspiring interpretation of the 2018 Biennale theme, Cooper Hewitt’s immersive installation Face Values was awarded the London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal. Once again representing the United States at the Biennale, Cooper Hewitt’s high-tech, provocative response investigates the human face as a living data source used by governments and businesses to track, measure, and monetize emotions. Using their own faces to control cameras and software, viewers experience the power and limitations of emotion recognition technologies through playful interactions that encourage awareness of these often hidden tools. Face Values speaks to the growing fascination around facial detection technology, particularly in the U.S., where major companies continue to experiment and push boundaries with this controversial software.

The installation is curated by Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design, and features original work by designers R. Luke DuBois and Zachary Lieberman displayed within a digital environment designed by Matter Architecture Practice. A visual essay by designer and historian Jessica Helfand explores how past and present scientists, criminologists, and beauty experts have tried to quantify the human face.

About Cooper Hewitt at London Design Biennale

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is representing the United States for the second time at London Design Biennale, which is on view through September 23 in the heart of London at Somerset House, a center for the arts and culture. Forty countries, cities, and territories across six continents present new installations and commissioned works in response to the Biennale theme of “emotional states,” chosen to provoke a broad interpretation across design disciplines and spur investigation of the important relationship between design, emotions, and social needs.

Installation preview

About the designers

R. Luke Dubois

R. Luke DuBois explores temporal, verbal and visual structures through music, art and technology. He is the director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, where he and his students explore the implications of new technologies for individuals and society. His work expands the limits of portraiture in the digital age by linking human identity to data and social networks.

Zachary Lieberman

Zachary Lieberman uses technology to augment the body’s ability to communicate. He is the creator of openFrameworks, a tool for creative coding, and he is founder of the School for Poetic Computation in Brooklyn. EyeWriter, an eye-tracking interface designed for people with paralysis, won Design of the Year (Interactive) 2010 from the London Design Museum. Lieberman’s work actively explores the human face as a controller and interface for software.

Matter Architecture Practice

Matter Architecture Practice is co-directed by Sandra Wheeler and Alfred Zollinger. Matter has received top honors for its work in exhibition design, which seeks to tell complex stories about data and society through engaging, physically rich environments. Matter was a finalist of the PS1/MoMA Young Architects Program and the winner of AIA New Practices New York, a juried selection recognizing up-and-coming, innovative firms in the city.


Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s installation at the London Design Biennale is made possible by the Secretary/Under Secretaries of the Smithsonian and the Smithsonian National Board.

In-kind support provided by Emeco.

Featured Image: The Somerset House, London