Published on Thursday 20 June 2024

 ‘URNA’ to represent Malta at the London Design Biennale 2025.

Arts Council Malta will be once again returning to the London Design Biennale, in 2025, this time with the selected project URNA.

URNA is an innovative project exploring the fascinating and distinctive subject of cremation. This proposal perfectly exemplifies and merges design innovation and creativity. It is bold, stimulating and far-reaching, beyond the idea of simply "art". It is a design for the community and challenges the status quo on interment, while offering a solution that is both poetic, intellectually stimulating and environmentally engaging. It should serve as the starting point for much discussion.

URNA introduces a new ritual for handling human remains, anticipating the adoption of cremation in the Maltese Islands and envisioning it as a culturally significant process. The project redefines the columbarium, ossuary, and wake to re-establish death as a significant ceremony, unburdened by unnecessary signifiers.

The collaboration of architects, designers, curators, and art directors has devised a geometrical construction using large, nondescript boulders that accumulate over time and form a language of their own. These spherical modules, universal in shape, incorporate cremated remains, embodying the individual’s connection to a broader cosmic reality and evolving through tactile interventions that invite various cultural interpretations.

The Team

For this project, a multinational team has been compiled.

Andrew Borg Wirth

Curator/Architect Andrew Borg Wirth (b.1993) He has curated exhibitions at Valletta Contemporary, the Malta Society of Arts and Malta’s National Centre for Creativity, amongst a number of other sitespecific projects both in Malta and overseas. His research interests lie at the intersection between cultural and architectural discourse, dealing with nostalgia, public space, memory, monuments and trauma.

Anthony Bonnici

Architect/Designer Anthony Bonnici (b.1990, Malta). He was responsible for international projects and led the realisation of the CELINE Flagship Store in Miami, a winery in red concrete in Tuscany, a house in Alentejo, Portugal and the Pearling Site Entrance and Museum in Bahrain. For the last years at the office, Bonnici was the lead architect dealing with all projects for Kanye West, including his private residence, the Yeezy campus in Wyoming and a pedestrian city in Atlanta. After 16 years away Bonnici returned to Malta in 2021 to create his own architecture and founded the office EBEJER BONNICI. 

Tanil Raif

Architect/Design, Tanil Raif is a Cypriot designer currently obtaining his master’s degree in architecture at the Harvard graduate school of design. His interest is within the intersection of primitive futurism and computational design. After his completion of bachelor’s in architecture at Chicago’s İllinois Institute of technology, Tanil has worked with many notable figures such as Kanye West, James Turrell and Ma Yanson. His contributions include project such as Neom’s line city in Saudi Arabia and the Yeezy Masterplan in Cody Wyoming.

Matthew Attard Navarro

Art Director, Matthew Attard Navarro (b.1987) is a London based multi-disciplinary art director, combining mediums such as photography and design through his personal practice. Matthew is also the founder & creative director of ANCC Studio Ltd, a multi-disciplinary creative studio in London working with fashion, design and luxury brands. Clients include established brands such as JW Anderson, Stella McCartney, ZARA, Nanushka, COS, David Koma, British Fashion Council to more emerging and experimental brands such as Jawara Alleyne, Luke Azzopardi (MT), HELIOT EMIL, THEOREME Editions, SRVC Studio amongst others

Anne Immelé

Photographer Anne Immelé, (b.1972, Mulhouse, France) Ph.D. is a photographer and exhibition curator based in Mulhouse, France. Her photographs examine the myriad of dimensions to our relationship with the territory: geographical, human and social, as well as memorial and poetic. It is through editing and display that her images enter into dialogue with each other, creating a ground for confrontation. While her photographic output is exhibited regularly on an international level, she also teaches at the HEAR (Haute école des arts du Rhin)

Stephanie Sant 

Filmmaker Stephanie Sant is a Maltese filmmaker, writer and performer self-described as a pluridisciplinary poet. In 2016 she obtained a master’s in arts in Photography at Central Saint Martins, UAL. She has collaborated as a performer with Olivier de Sagazan on two of his creations, Hybridation and La Messe de L'Âne which both tour overseas continuously. She has also participated in the creative team of the San Marino pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia in 2019. Her work has been exhibited notably at Spazju Kreattiv (MT), at Friche la Belle de Mai (FR) and Het Nieuwe Instituut (NL). In 2020 she moved to France and is now settled in Paris.

Thomas Mifsud 

Junior Architect Thomas Mifsud (b.1996, Malta) is an architect and multi-disciplinary creative. Driven by a passion for the visual and literary arts, he has established a cultural position as a project-oriented artist, exploring place-making, collective memory and historiography through photography and poetry. In 2023 he joined EBEJER BONNICI as a design lead architect. Within the office he is leading the realisation of a tower made of stone and several dwellings in rural contexts. He led the set design of the Maltese opera premiere of Joseph Vella’s Valeriana: Titan’s Rock and is directing a number of residential projects in Baja California Sur, Mexico.  Alongside his architecture work, he is also the person in charge of curating and developing EBEJER BONNICI’s visual language and architectural position.

Malta’s participation at the London Design Biennale

Arts Council Malta, under the auspices of the Ministry for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, has been entrusted to act as the Commissioner and the Contracting Authority of Malta’s participation at the London Design Biennale in 2025. Dr Romina Delia, International Executive at Arts Council Malta shall lead the project, supported by Celine Portelli (Coordination) and Dr Frank Psaila (PR & Marketing International Projects)

The London Design Biennale is an international exhibition and thought leadership programme featuring world leading design innovation and creativity from countries across the globe. 

The London Design Biennale is held in historic Somerset House, one of the UK’s finest and most beautiful 18th century buildings and is of international historical and architectural importance.

In 2023 Arts Council Malta selected and commissioned the project ‘Urban Fabric’ which was successfully showcased in the courtyard of the Historic Somerset House in London. The project URNA in 2025 shall be located in one of the internal rooms of Somerset house

The fifth London Design Biennale will take place from 5-29 June 2025. Each Biennale edition invites participants to respond to a universal theme set by the Artistic Director.  Samuel Ross was announced as the artistic director of the London Design Biennale 2025.

The London Design Biennale theme will be ‘Surface Reflections’. Ross theme will explore how ideas are shaped equally by internal experiences and external influences. The theme will offer an opportunity to delve into multiple facets of the human experiences, uncovered through personal histories, traditions, and things we learn throughout our lives. 


The Evaluators, on behalf of Arts Council Malta, where:

Adrian Mamo

Adrian is the current artistic director of Teatru Manoel, Malta's national theatre. He is an architect by profession, He has been involved in the local theatre scene for around 40 years; he has designed sets for over 60 productions including theatre, pantomime, dance and music, for various performing arts companies, such as MADC, Masquerade, Atturi, Actinghouse, TheatreEncore, Staġun Teatru Malti, CHOGM and others. Adrian also occupies the role of president of the Malta Society of Arts.

Perit Andre Pizzuto

Perit Pizzuto is the President of the Council of the Maltese Chamber of Architects & Civil Engineers. He is a Council delegate on Building Regulation in Malta since 2017, represents the Chamber on the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) on matters related to building regulation. In 2017, he was also appointed as Chairperson of ad-hoc working group of the Chamber for the formulation and development of a comprehensive building regulation regime for Malta.

Angela Bourderye-Munoz

Angela is a cultural diplomacy expert, currently serving as the External Relations and Events Manager at London Design Biennale since 2022. Angela's extensive background in diplomacy and international affairs includes significant roles such as Current Affairs, Culture, and Communications Manager at Canning House, where she worked closely with diplomatic representations, cultural organizations, and government officials. She also directed Otumpa Gallery in London, curating an extensive exhibition program that highlighted the finest craft makers from Latin America.

The evaluation session was moderated by Dr Romina Delia, Internationalisation Executive at Arts Council Malta.