Dezeen's top 10 installations of 2021

Dezeen's top 10 installations of 2021

From a giant inflated bubble to a steel-wired mosque designed to challenge Islamaphobia, we take a look at 10 standout installations covered by Dezeen this year as part of our review of 2021.


A man walks through a virtual green installation

Medusa, UK, by Sou Fujimoto

A vast gallery room in the V&A Museum was reserved for a virtual installation by architect Sou Fujimoto and mixed reality studio Tin Drum during London Design Festival this year.

Festival-goers could put on a pair of mixed-reality glasses and walk through the virtual blue structure as it changed shape in response to their movements. The installation was intended to encourage visitors to explore the potential of manipulating a perceived environment.

Find out more about Medusa ›


Crowds around L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped
Photo is by Benjamin Loyseau

L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, France, by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Nearly 60 years after artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude first planned L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, the much-anticipated installation opened to the public in Paris.

For 16 days, the world-famous arch on the Champs-Élysées was covered by 25,000 square metres of silvery fabric, secured by 3,000 metres of contrasting red rope. People were able to touch the architectural work as well as observe the installation from the Arc de Triomphe’s terrace.

Find out more about L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped ›


Yayoi Kusama's polka dot trees in New York
Photo is by Robert Benson Photography

Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, US, by Yayoi Kusama

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama covered trees at the New York Botanical Garden in her signature colourful polka dots as part of the park-wide 2021 exhibition Kusama: Cosmic Nature.

Other installations by the artist in the gardens included a lake filled with 1,400 mirrored steel balls and a large pumpkin sculpture made from bronze. Several installations were also playfully placed inside the buildings of the New York Botanical Garden.

Find out more about Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees ›


Ajlan Gharem's Paradise has many gates

Paradise Has Many Gates, various locations, by Ajlan Gharem

Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem used chicken wire to create Paradise Has Many Gates, a 10-by-6.5-metre cage-like installation that can be used as a Muslim place of worship.

The artist wanted the award-winning installation to serve as a reminder of refugee detention centres and border walls while simultaneously demystifying the Mosque by making it literally transparent and open.

Find out more about Paradise Has Many Gates ›


Grow installation by Studio Roosegaarde

Grow, the Netherlands, by Studio Roosegaarde

Studio Roosegaarde transformed a 20,000-square-metre plot of land into a light installation designed to highlight the beauty of agriculture.

After a trip to a farm, designer Daan Roosegaarde learned of the potential of photobiological lighting technology in promoting plant growth and resistance to pesticides. Inspired by the technology, he installed red, blue and ultraviolet high-density LEDs into a field to create Grow.

Find out more about Grow ›


Solar panels by Marjane van Aubel on the Dutch Biotope pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

The Netherlands Pavilion skylight, Dubai, by Marjan van Aubel

This year’s Dubai Expo saw a range of impressive pavilions including The Dutch Biotope, which has translucent solar panels on its roof. The designer, Marjan van Aubel, hoped that the colours and lights would demonstrate that solar panels could be beautiful while also powering the exhibition.

“At different points in the day the light, shadows and colours will change and so I hope it feels like a constantly changing immersive experience, similar to the light falling through a stained-glass window,” van Aubel told Dezeen.

Find out more about The Netherlands Pavilion skylight ›


The structure was placed ontop of a carpark

Alexander McQueen’s Spring Summer 2022 installation, UK, by Smiljan Radić

Chilean architect Smiljan Radić topped a car park in Tobacco Dock, east London with an inflated bubble-like structure for Alexander McQueen’s Spring Summer 2022 fashion show.

A panelled membrane was supported by a web of steel tensile cables, forming a transparent dome with views of the surrounding skies. A series of vents in the floor pumped air into the dome to ensure its bulging appearance was maintained throughout the show.

Find out more about Alexander McQueen’ Spring Summer 2022 installation ›


Superflux Invocation for Hope

Invocation for Hope, Austria, by Superflux

In a year that saw multiple designers use trees to highlight the impact of climate change, design studio Superflux transferred 415 dead black pine trees from Austria’s Neunkirchen region to the country’s capital for Invocation for Hope.

Living plants were then arranged around the trees and a reflective pool, creating a tranquil oasis in the middle of the Museum of Applied Arts. The designers wanted the installation to embody “a post-Anthropocene landscape where humans learn to live in harmony with nature”.

Find out more about Invocation for Hope ›


Light installation in Chinese tea field
Photo is by Tian Fang Fang

Light, China, by Ma Yansong

Light is a steel structure wrapped in translucent fabric that shields a small copse of trees in a rural tea field in China.

MAD architecture studio-founder Ma Yansong was inspired by the surrounding nature when he created the sculptural artwork as part of the Art at Fuliang 2021 festival.

Find out more about Light ›


Feet walking over Yinka Ilori crossings for Bring London Together

Bring London Together, UK, by Yinka Ilori

In an effort to unite Londoners and encourage them to explore the city’s streets again after multiple coronavirus lockdowns, London-based designer Yinka Ilori transformed 18 pedestrian crossings at London Design Festival. Blue, orange, pink, purple and green paints replaced the traditional black and white.

“It’s about trying to bring our community back out onto the streets to celebrate,” explained the designer, who is known for his socially-conscious approach.

Find out more about Bring London Together ›

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