From the opening in Bella Center, experiencing the mango plantation room. From left: Ms. Eva Egesborg Hansen, Ms. Maiken Lyster Thonke, Mr. António Guterres, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, and HRH Crown Princess Mary.
50 anniversary exhibition: Danida’s Discovery Circles
Client: Danida / Minisitry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Copenhagen
The 50 year anniversary of Danish development assistance was marked by an untraditional exhibition which will be seen by up to one million visitors. The theme of the exhibition is simple: significant, recent examples of Danish efforts in the world’s poor countries that have contributed to major and lasting progress.
The exhibition tours the country with a one week visit in seven shopping centres as well as one large national politics mass meeting. The central square of each shopping centre will host the exhibition which will be hard to miss with its more than 60 square meters and its remarkable looks.
The form is inspired by the visual identity of Danida
The form of the exhibition is based on elements of Danida’s corporate identity. Spatial elements in the form of circles of varying heights are used to create spaces that have an organic and inviting shape when viewed from the outside while creating an internal labyrinth of sensory rooms.
Left: The view of the exhibition from 2nd floor in Lyngby Storcenter. Right: From the opening in Bella Center, HRH Crown Princess Mary gives her speech on the podium, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation stands to the right.
Outside: A maze of discovery in a significant design
The pavilion consists of five intertwining and inviting circles of various heights which form a small maze of five circular “discovery rooms.” To target the majority of visitors who will not visit the pavilion but only pass by, the onlooker is met by “tabloid headlines” with hard core facts on a selection of results of the Danish effort
See the Circles live
Watch the video where the designer shows around in the exhibition “Danida’s Discovery Circles” (in Danish) here.
Inside: Traveling through five developing countries
Inside, the curious visitor is sent on a journey to five selected developing countries – and five different kinds of effort. In every room a life size panoramic picture of a certain situation surrounds the visitor: a school class, everyday life around the new well, the rice farmer now supporting himself on fish farming etc. One will find short texts with main facts of the background story and short selected “parallel cases” conveying similar results from other countries.
Furthermore, the exhibition is not just visual. In some rooms you will smell the mango plantation or the incense from the Bhutan monastery. You will hear the sounds of “the picture” in the room, watch a black-board become alive or you will find your feet in running water on the floor. On top of this, you may unfold your drawing talent, touch the harvest baskets, flick through school books, roll the monks’ prayer wheel, or try to lift twenty litres of water on your head in a Benin woman’s basin.
A world map gives an overview
Outside, a 2,4 meter wide, interactive map of the world shows the countries Denmark is particularly involved in. Touch buttons, lights, and examples will show the surprising progress throughout the past fifty years. Two touch screens will invite you to involve yourself in an online dilemma quiz on development assistance.
Nominated for Danish Design Award
The Jury’s statement: Danida’s exhibition is an elegant and inviting way of designing a visually simple and robust exhibition to be set up in visually demanding contexts, for example in a shopping centre. The circles appear distinct and friendly, and the interior space of the exhibition manages to activate and appeal to children and adults alike.
Facts / Institution: Udenrigsministeriet/Danida. Design and concept: graphic designer Maiken Lyster Thonke, Lysth. Manufacturer: Jysk Display.Text, support, PR: Publikum Sound design: Rune Holberg. Scent design: Ambient Idea.
Which towns? Danidas Discovery Cirkles has been exhibited in the following places: Bella Center, Lyngby Storcenter, Fields Copenhagen, Ishøj bycenter, Glostrup Center, Vestsjællands Center in Slagelse, Brunns Gallerier in Århus, Ålborg Storcenter, Kolding Storcenter, Desing Centeret in Copenhagen and Folkemødet in Bornholm.
Photo credit on this page Danida, Claus Hessner and Maiken Lyster Thonke.