Rooted Design for Routed Living | Alternatywne strategie projektowania

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Rooted Design for Routed Living. Alternative Design Strategies is a two-year art project based on a programme of cooperation between Polish and Norwegian designers and artists. Participants will strive to blend the study of local applied art traditions with contemporary design culture and state-of-the-art production technologies.

The Nordic Artists' Centre in Norway (NKD) and the A-I-R Laboratory at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw have initiated the project, and will host the events. Both institutions are working with artist-in-residency programs, but in very different conditions-the NKD is situated in a rural area on the west coast of Norway, while the A-I-R Laboratory at the Ujazdowski Castle is located in a European metropolis.

Many contemporary artists spend a lot of time travelling between exhibitions and commissions of different kind. During the last decade, it has become common to travel from residency to residency. The life of these artists can be considered rootless, in a way, and frequently, the same can be said of the places of their stay, in terms of the design of interior: it is often characterized as being too pragmatic. The similarities in the programs of the centres and the differences in several other dimensions created a space for a common interest in establishing an exchange. The idea was that each centre should use the other as a resource to gain new knowledge about the possibilities or impossibilities of making the interiors more relevant in relation to local circumstances. Since both institutions have programs on the borderland of art/design, and architecture where space related works play an important role, it was necessary to focus on our own facilities. Hopefully, the project can help improve the living and working conditions for visiting artists. Rooted Design for Routed Living is formulated as a project where groups of Norwegian and Polish designers go to work on foreign ground.

The aim of the project is to present prototype furniture, designed specifically for the spaces of each centre. The furniture will , hopefully, offer a design with a clear relation to local history, aesthetics and heritage. Nowadays, design has become a very vague concept with perhaps too much impact, and it seems important to try to turn it around. As we see it, this means more focus on concepts, to avoid the pitfalls of labouring expressions of contemporary design as pure appearance. Concepts that last over time usually have a relation to some kind of specificity, such as something local or personal. This is the impulse that leads to the idea of working with customization. Rooted Design for Routed Living is a project that has its point of departure in contextual purpose.

The project will be completed at the end of 2010, and will be presented through exhibitions organized at the CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw and at NKD in Dale. All the research materials, texts, images and documentation of the work with the prototypes will be presented in a book that will conclude the project.

We would like to thank Elísabet Gunnarsdóttir for all her help and input in creating of the project's concept.


Supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism






Calendar >>

2009

20-22 March 2009
Workshops and talks at CCA

15 June – 15 July 2009
Research residencies of the project group in Poland and Norway

23 – 29 November 2009
Workshops at nkd Dale in Norway

2010

January – March 2010
Production residencies of the project group in Poland and Norway

April – August 2010
Production

October 2010
Presentations at CCA and nkd

An interview with Oscar Narud and Tomek Rygalik. By Markus Degerman.>>

Interview with Oscar Narud and Tomek Rygalik
on Rooted Design for Routed Living


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Mountain King by Kuba Szczęsny (photo Jasmina Bosnjak)

M: Markus Degerman
O: Oscar Narud
T: Tomek Rygalik

M: The project Rooted Design for Routed living deals with questions on how to root design locally and I will of course have to start by asking you what you find interesting in this as a starting point for a design process?

T: I think that the notion of a locally rooted design is at the same time both interesting and not interesting at all. On the one hand there are a lot of things in regard to which it is impossible to tell where they have been made without having a look at a tag hidden somewhere and in many cases people seem to care less and less about the place of origin. But on the other hand it is a characteristic that can create a stronger relationships to the user by connecting something to time and space. Rootedness could in this sense - and this is what I find important within this project - be used as a powerful tool to create this quality.

O: For me, I think it presents an exciting chance to pick up on the essence of an area or the people that inhabit it. The ‘rootedness’ as such can come from a number of factors, ranging from the geographical aspects or local traditions through to e.g. industry on various levels found in a specific area. As an end result this factor might only be visible in a mere detail or it could act as a starting point only and fade off of as the project progresses. On the other hand it could also be something very much tailored for a given site. How one chooses to draw from this source of inspiration and knowledge is less important to me but I think the fact that an object grew out of something specific is an interesting starting point. This lends an identity and a story to the object that I find most of the everyday products we surround ourselves with lack, or at least don’t communicate.

M: Is it not a risk when working with an aim to root the design within a local context that it could end with just the typical clichés and stereotypes and if so how to avoid this?

T: Well, we live in a culture where the phenomenon with sampling has since long become deeply rooted as a method of producing new cultural expressions like for example music or design (speaking about rootedness). And it is of course a risk to treat the task in this project in a similar manner, i.e. that you just look for the most obvious characteristics and try to create a witty collage that functions as a one-liner. I am not saying that it has to end that way when working in such a manner but the risk is certainly there and I think it is important to take the notion of rooting the design a bit further.

O: Of course there is a danger of this happening but I think it requires some clever interpretation of how you decide to draw from your context. The challenge is not to recreate or force 'tradition' into a project for the sake of it but to carefully select elements or draw inspiration that might lend itself to a new design. Tomek mentions ‘sampling’ in terms of music which I find a witty comparison; for me it only stands out if you also introduce something new into the mix. Cutting and pasting old tunes with a little bit of beat box chucked in for good measure is not what we’re aiming for. The 'old' has to give value and enhance the 'new' or vice versa.

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Mountain King by Kuba Szczęsny (photo Jasmina Bosnjak)

M: Tomek, you mentioned something about how it is important to have a broad or expanded understanding of what rooted design could imply and I am therefore wondering what this sort of understanding implies to you and what your strategies are in bringing the result further than just witty one-liner collages?

T: I think the key when it comes to creating good and lasting furniture is to have a long term perspective on your practice, both looking back but also looking forward. In order to do so you need to get an understanding of the cultural processes that have shaped the things that we surround ourselves with and you also need to understand your position as a designer within this system. It is a little bit like being in a relay, where you at some point take on and do your part and then later someone else will continue.

M: I guess that this implies a humbleness of the idea of coming up with overall and ideal solutions, instead it sounds like you have a deeper interest in developing processes. How have you been trying to structure the process of this project?

T: I often like to kick start the process with working hands to get something more physical done and then spend time on reflection and analysis. This is important because you need to start somewhere but you also need to consider your work and develop it and I believe that the process gets more creative if you do the work in this order rather than the other way around.

M: The Nordic Artists’ Centre (NKD) and the A-I-R program at the Centre for Contempoarary Art Ujazdowski Castle (CSW) are two residency centres that, as you know, in many aspects are each other’s opposites and the idea with the project is of course to consider these local characteristics. How do you think this is being reflected in the works?

O: The two art centres are indeed almost the opposite when it comes to the architecture of the spaces, how they are used and notably the centres’ geographical surroundings. In one place you have close to unlimited space and tranquil surroundings whilst the other is situated in a capital city and falls under the restrictions that naturally apply to more densely populated areas in terms of space but also offers a vast amount of input within easy access.My understanding so far has been that the designers’ approach is slightly split. Some are tackling the space issues in Warsaw whilst others are relishing the opportunity to develop larger, more site specific projects in Norway. However I think everyone has also adapted to the idea of developing products that address actions more than specific spaces, hence creating products that traverse the architecture of the Centres but still tackles the scenarios of being artists in residence.

T: I agree but you can also say that the centres have a lot of similarities, not at least as being residency programs with a focus on contemporary art. At the moment I would also say that it seems like the designers have started looking into design solutions with the specific needs that could be found at the two centres and that they, with this as a point of departure then developed ideas that can be implemented on a more general level. This would then also suggest that the interests among the designers in this sense has not been so much on being site specific but rather culture specific in relation to the phenomenon of A-I-R programs.

M: The designers that are involved in the project also have different backgrounds and therefore perhaps their approaches on how to deal with the subject also differentiate. Norway and Poland are for example countries that are very diverse when it comes to furniture production. Poland has a lot of furniture manufacturers but the possibilities for industrial production in Norway are very limited. After a couple of common working periods are there similarities or differences. Are there some things that you would say have turned out to be similarities between them in terms of solutions for the spaces?

O: I think the adaptability towards the task in hand is something everyone has managed really well. More than dissimilarities based on nationality, it is however apparent that we come from slightly different backgrounds, be it schools, teachers our experiences and influences and we ahave different approaches on how to go about reaching an end result. I think the fact that we have a variety of approaches to 'design' within our group ranging from industrial design to architecture, fine arts and product design has proved both helpful and inspiring and we have been able to draw upon each other's knowledge which has been very valuable.

M: It is not always an easy task as a project leader to create a situation that makes it possible to take advantage of working with a group where the individuals involved can inspire and help each other. How have you been working to establish a fruitful social situation within the group?

T: Equally important as the workshops and meetings where the group have been discussing and doing practical work I think is to establish a beneficial social situation. In addition to all directly work related activities we have been living, travelling, cooking, skiing, jogging, partying, swimming together. You will come up with new things and get new ideas when you look for them in unlikely places, you need to expose yourself.

O: I think this has been the easiest part of the project and this task has practically taken care of itself. Through having the chance to actually spend proper time at the respective centres, we have been together for periods of time up to three weeks, there have been many opportunities to socialise and work under less formal circumstances. The fact that we have got to know each other well also has allowed fruitful conversation and a less formal exchange of thoughts and ideas surrounding the work!

M: What are your expectations with the outcome of the project?

T: Hopefully we will see some things going into production, some things will have their permanent place and be of use at the centres and some will be starting points for other future works or serve as suggestions on possibilities. However what I am hoping for is that the designers can develop their work so it becomes something that will be beyond an answer to the most obvious, or let’s say literal task that has been asked of them. What I am hoping for are things that would have been impossible to make without the research and process that we have been through. Things that will also surprise the designers themselves by being different from what they usually work on.

O: I'm hoping we can manage to create products that give something special back to the spaces and the artists who will be using them. This can come through subtle hints or features but I'm hoping that the work somehow manages to communicate the project in a good way and benefits from the research put into it. If we can achieve this I think we could have a nice little collection come out of it. Hopefully some of the work might also go further and gain interest from manufacturers and galleries alike.

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Mountain King by Kuba Szczęsny (photo Jasmina Bosnjak)

Oscar Narud was born in Oslo, Norway in 1978.

Oscar moved to London in 1999 to undertake a foundation course in art and design at Central St.Martins College of Art & Design. Following this he decided to specialise in Product Design and stayed on at Central St.Martins to complete his BA (Hons) in 2003.
He then moved to Munich for a year to learn the everyday ins and outs of a professional practice working for designer Klaus Hackl. In 2004 he enrolled at the Royal College of Art for his Post Graduate studies completing his MA in 2006 within the Design Products department under Professor Ron Arad.
Following his graduation Oscar was one of the founding members of OKAY studio (a design collective) alongside six of his colleagues from where he currently runs his design studio in Stoke Newington, London.
Oscar has worked freelance for amongst others El Ultimo Grito, Tord Boontje and Architect Nigel Coates. He has also designed a number of custom built interior projects, exhibition designs and fair stands, the latest one for The British Council in conjunction with the London Design Festival 2009. His work has been exhibited in London, Milan, Madrid, Oslo and Cologne.


Tomek Rygalik was born in Łódź, Poland in 1976.

He studied Architecture at the Technical University of Łódź, and later Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute in New York. After his studies he worked with several design companies in New York City and in 2003 he enrolled at the Royal College of Art for Post Graduate studies.
After graduating from the RCA, Tomek Rygalik established his own design office in both London and Łódź and joined the RCA staff as a Research Associate. Tomek is also teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and lectures internationally. His most recent work includes projects for DuPont/Corian, Moroso, Artek, Iker, Noti, ABR, Heal's and Ideal Standard.
Tomek Rygalik has been awarded with numerous prizes and awards including First Prize Award in the 2006 International Bombay Sapphire Martini Glass Design Competition, BSI Environmental Design Award 2005, and Rosenthal Design Award 2004. He was also a finalist of The British Council's International Young Design Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 competition.
His works has been exhibited in Berlin, Frankfurt, Łódź, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Tokyo, Poznań, Warsaw and Valencia.


Workshops in Norway - ten rainy days >>>

The group of designers met again at the end of November at NKD in Dale for a week of intense work on their projects. The last meeting in July was focused on researching the design and architecture traditions in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. This gathering of information was also combined with looking into production possibilities in the region, but during this latest meeting at NKD most of the participants were already in the process of finishing prototypes.

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The meeting in July offered long, bright and sunny days but November in Dale is very different. It is dark, the days are short and it’s raining almost all the time. Since this latest phase of Rooted Design for Routed Living centred on discussions and work in the studios, these conditions actually proved to be supportive work-wise. One of the main topics for discussions during the November meeting was, of course, how to relate to notions of “rootedness” in the design practice.

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To question what a rooted design might imply, and then start making a rooted design with different means, has the inherent risk of ending with answers where locality is reduced to expressions of image based clichés. The project Rooted Design for Routed Living therefore also aims to consider the rootedness from perspectives less bound to the formal.

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It is sometimes a good idea to start with first things first, or at least the most obvious, and when it comes to specific characteristics in the case of NKD it is difficult not to consider the surroundings and the weather. The often harsh climate and an environment of fjords, mountains and green valleys have eventually proven to be a somewhat burdened source of inspiration, but still also very present and almost impossible to overlook. A chair by Stokke Austad, based on the traditional rustic log chairs, and a mountain shelter by Pawel Jasiewicz and Maja Ganszyniec that place itself somewhere between architecture and furniture design are two examples of ideas that have taken these conditions as their point of departure.

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Nature or weather conditions are, as mentioned, some of the more or less obvious references of site-specific conditions; however, most of the ideas that have emerged during the workshops seem to base the notion of locality in concepts rather than in expressions. This is especially evident when it comes to the proposals done for the a-i-r laboratory, at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle.

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The a-i-r laboratory at the CCA in Warsaw is, as the name suggests, located in a castle, which is situated in a park in a European capital. The differences between the two centres running the Rooted Design project are quite telling and in many ways could not have been much bigger. Still, both programmes deals with residencies and it also happens that one artist goes from a residency at one of the centres to continue at the other. Because of this, there is also common ground in terms of expectations and demands of facilities.

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New typologies and solutions to specific needs have, in this sense, been developed as another answer to what a locally rooted design could mean. For example: Amy Hunting is working on a new adjustable solution for electrical fittings based on magnets; Tomek Rygalik suggested a combined easy chair/daybeds for studios; Ola Mirecka is looking into the importance of contemplative breaks for studio work and is developing a series of coffee/tea cups; and Oscar Narud is producing furniture that is a combined chair/desk/stepladder. This just names some of the projects that were discussed and worked on during the November workshop residency.

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Trond Perry presented another approach to locally rooted design that perhaps could be described as a playful take on critical regionalism. By adding embroideries depicting traditional flower patterns to all of NKD’s common foldable “director’s chairs”, he gives this mass-produced and nowadays un-rooted furniture a stronger individuality and the sense of belonging to a specific site.

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The next meeting of all the designers and people involved in Rooted Design for Routed Living will take place at NKD in January.

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Research residency In Dale, 1-15 July 2009 >>

Residency in Dale at the Nordic Artists' Centre, July 2009

The team of designers from Poland and Norway met again for two weeks in Dale, Norway to continue their collaborative project “Rooted Design for Routed Living”. The group, together with the project leaders and partners from A-I-R program at The Centre for Contemporary Art at the Ujazdowski Castle landed at Bringeland airport to meet under conditions that provided quite a contrast to the urban qualities of Warsaw.

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The Nordic Artists’ Centre in Dale, in short NKD, is located in a municipality with just 3000 inhabitants and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, forests and fjords. This typically western Norwegian scenery provided the setting for the third meeting within the project. The aim this time was to look into local production processes and design traditions and to start outlining ideas for suggestions on new and more locally rooted interiors for A-I-R programs like the NKD.

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The first day was spent becoming familiar with the centre, Dale and its surroundings. NKD is an A-I-R centre that is purpose built with five artists’ houses, studios and a workshop with good facilities for working with wood. The architecture can be described to have a modernistic influence in the planning, a programming that is fairly set and also elements that are rooted in the local environment such as the widespread use of wood, rustic stone walls and a wall of woven juniper branches. Haga & Grov, the architects who designed the centre, were awarded with one of the most prestigious architecture prizes in Norway for their work. The characteristics of the architecture were just some examples of what the designers had to take into consideration when mapping out what to refer to within the context.

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To get a good insight into the local culture, it was considered necessary getting acquainted with local customs such as trekking in the mountains. Hiking has a long tradition in the Norwegian culture and has come to play an important role as a constituent of the national identity.

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When looking into the "genius loci" it became obvious that a relation to nature, even if it is a cliché, was difficult to ignore when searching for locally rooted qualities in the surroundings of NKD.

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An introduction to Norwegian traditions in design through craft was given by Anne Britt Ylvisaker from Permanenten, the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, who was invited to provide the lecture.

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Following the initial time at the centre, the group, together with designers, project leaders and staff from the institutions, left Dale for excursions to furniture manufacturers, galleries, museums and other sites, typical of the region, associated with brand-making imagery, such as wharfs and glaciers.

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The first excursion was a trip to Sykkylven, which is a small municipality with a surprisingly high concentration of furniture manufacturers. The plan was to visit representatives of two very different approaches to furniture making, Ekornes and LK Hjelle.

Ekornes is one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in Norway and has what is probably one of the most advanced and technically sophisticated production lines in the world. Their bestseller is a series of armchairs called “Stressless”, which have been developed with the aim of providing maximum comfort.

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LK Hjelle is a smaller manufacturer of high-end upholstery furniture, which is made with an almost craft-based production. The company has received international recognition for its series of furniture designed by Norway Says, a successful young Norwegian design office.

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The day with the visits to the furniture producers ended with an overnight stay in Alesund, a picturesque city with well-preserved art nouveau architecture. The excursion then continued the following day with a visit to the Ulstein wharf and the gallery studio Hugo Oppdal, which both are located on the island of Hareidlandet south of Alesund.

The Ulstein wharf specialises in shipbuilding for the oil industry and has also invented a groundbreaking design of a stem of a ship called the X-Bow. With its backward-leaning bow, it looks in short like an inverted traditional stem and it is said to sail more efficiently through head seas.

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Hugo Oppdal is a photographer who moved to the rural village Flo where he started a gallery exhibiting contemporary art by well-known international artists.

After the trip to Sykkylven time was spent in the studios and workshops to focus on making models of various design ideas for the project. But before the concluding discussion of the residency at NKD and on how the project was proceeding an additional and final excursion was scheduled. The destinations this time were the Glacier Museum and the Sunnfjord Museum, an open-air museum with a collection of traditional wooden houses from the region.

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The Glacier Museum by the internationally acclaimed Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn was perhaps more interesting not for its architecture but rather for the memorable experience of the glacier itself. The excursion therefore took off on a small detour to go and see the actual Jostedals Breen glacier, which is the biggest glacier on the European continent.

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The collection of old houses at the Sunnfjord Museum provided a very good insight into living conditions in the county around the 1850s. The interiors of the houses also gave interesting examples of craft in terms of furniture, objects and textiles.

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A common presentation of the ideas that had developed during the residency was held at the end of the stay at the Centre. The designers presented individual approaches to the initial question on how to create a better and more rooted interior, that makes sense as something specific for its site and use. It was difficult to find similarities between the proposals but there were, nonetheless, some common features. There were for example ideas on storage furniture and retreat or meditation cubicles.

Tomek Rygalik presented three possible ideas for the future production. One was a full-scale model of a chaise lounge, which also could be transformed into a daybed, a type of furniture that according to visiting artists at the centre many studios were missing. Tomek’s proposal had its starting point in an idea of adaptation with minimal effort. The two other proposals were in short based on a storage piece and the idea of longevity, i.e. how to use things after or long after they have broken, simply by reconfiguring them.

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Paweł Jasiewicz and Maja Ganszyniec presented a prototype of furniture that got the nickname “the drawer hut”. The piece is a closet with a drawer function in a shape borrowed from the pitched roof of the generic barns that are to be seen in the region’s countryside. They also presented an outline of an organic structure that could be docked to the existing spaces in order to offer the possibility of disconnecting from the surroundings to provide an area for concentrated study and privacy.

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Jakub Szczęsny had the new spaces at the A-I-R program at the Ujazdowski Castel in Warsaw in mind for his proposal. Drawing on Eero Aarnios Globe Chair, Kuba presented the idea of what he described as ”help furniture” that could just be pulled out from the wall and offer retreat, privacy and space for contemplation. The tests he had been working on were based on a construction without any supporting structure but instead based on an intricate use of fabric.

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Ola Mirecka presented a work that took its point of departure in the perforated hardboard panels that are to be found as a sound absorbing material on the walls of the NKD workshop. Her experimental models and tests suggested a utility system based on the use of strings for hanging, installing, storing or displaying objects.

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Trond Nicholas Perry outlined an idea of a series of furniture with an interactive design possibility. The interaction should allow the visiting artists to project their own personal character on the spaces they would use during a residency. The ideal would then be an interior with hints of possible changes.

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Oscar Narud had been working on a new type of furniture that could be described as a marriage between stool, table and chair. It was, according to Oscar, important that the furniture had a certain oddity to it in order to be able to suggest the number of different possibilities when it comes to its use.

Oystein Austad & Jonas Stokke presented a number of different ideas that had been boiled down to detailed drawings and models. For example, they showed a solution of how to increase the daylight in the newly built A-I-R spaces in Warsaw, ideas on a log chair, a pendant lamp, a coat-hanger as well as a system of cork panels that could be moved around on the wall and used as a notice board and for storage.

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Amy Hunting showed outlines of a chest that were designed to provide the visiting artists at A-I-R programs with furniture that in an obvious way could negotiate a sense of personal attachment. The idea was based on the Norwegian tradition of elaborate chests that used to be given to candidates for confirmation as a symbol of entering adulthood. The chests where then used as storage for personal belongings. Amy also presented several other sketches, including examples of a shelf, a coat rack, a foldable chair and a bedside table with a lamp.

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Research residency in Warsaw, 20-30 June 2009 >>

Residency in Warsaw at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, June 2009.

The team of participants, consisting of five Polish and five Norwegians designers, came together for the first time in Warsaw at the Centre for Contemporary Art as the defined group that would develop and be part of the collaborative project: ‘Rooted Design for Routed Living’. They held fort for the two following weeks at the castle’s residencies situated in the heart of Warsaw.

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The initial task of their stay was to approach the project in broad strokes, identify opportunities as well as to try and define boundaries within which to produce an outcome. Whilst the outlines were clear from the beginning, the actual forming of the working brief was very much to be a collective effort, gradually taking shape over the designers’ meetings and discussions - and whilst a little slow in the beginning, it was not short of ideas and strong opinions as time progressed.

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Shaping the brief very much involved learning and getting to know the ‘phenomenon’ of the ‘live/ work’ approach that is the artist-in-residence concept. Besides this more obvious task, the ‘rooted’ theme of the project was a topical one and an important factor during the two residencies the team would undertake. For the Norwegians especially, it was an experience to be reciprocated to the Polish designers when the group would travel to Dale in Norway; to gain an understanding of Polish history and heritage as well as an insight into life in Warsaw. Of course the best way to achieve the latter was to spend time with like-minded, optimistic contemporaries - and this is the spirit in which the group set off on their explorations of the city.

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Upon installing in Warsaw, the group overlapped with the Berlin based artist, Martin Kaltwasser, whose residency was coming to an end.

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It was a good chance to get to know him a little and – during the picnic at the platforms built by him in front of the Ujazdowski Castle – he proved more than willing to talk about life as an artist and his experience with residencies, not to mention life in general.

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It was one of two meetings the team would have with artists that have broad experience with residency programs. At a later stage, the group would meet with Polish artists Anna Konik and Jan Simon- a meeting which commenced with a brief introduction to the origin and history of the artist-in-residency program in general. The talk would especially focus on the ‘a-i-r laboratory’ hosted at the CCA where the team were staying. The introduction was made by the programme coordinators and curator; Marianna Dobkowska, Ula Siemion and Agnieszka Sosnowska.

After settling down, sampling local food and produce, the group listened to a lecture by Jozef Mrozek and Magdalena Kochanowska about Polish design from 1890 until the present day. As with most European nations at any given time, movements dictated the very essence of style and principle. However, Mrozek focused on elements within this which might be typically Polish and, for the Norwegian participants, quite a few resemblances were found which seemed closely linked to Norwegian design and architecture at the time. An interesting starting point for a collaboration between designers from the two respective nations.

Following this, the group travelled to Otwock to visit the Centre for Contemporary Design at the National Museum. This proved to be a very successful trip, equally inspiring for both Norwegians and Polish participants.

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A physical library of prototype furniture, craft in the form of ceramic and glass, jewellery, toys, fashion and printed fabrics.

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Unfortunately not open to the public, the team were privileged to have a guided tour with very knowledgeable guides and also to roam freely, investigating the many hidden treasures that the building houses.

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As previously mentioned, the aim was also to see modern Poland and to understand the general change and growth the country is experiencing. Related to design, the furniture manufacturing industry was an obvious choice, but also something Poland is at the very forefront of as far as Europe is concerned. Following a stop in Lodz and the impressive new Museum of Art (situated in a vast redeveloped factory plant) the team visited the ‘ProfiM’ factory in Turek.

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This is a rapidly expanding factory where they are able to produce all components and parts in-house to finished product at very competitive prices. Whilst also producing furniture for IKEA they have their own range of high–tech office furniture.

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To experience the opposite spectre of things, the team later travelled to the village of Scurcz to meet folk sculptor Jerzy Kaminski.

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The visit proved as much an insight into a stereo typical ‘rooted’ Polish way of life

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as a meeting with an artist producing hand-sculptured religious carvings in his garage, some of his work finding its way to Rome and the Vatican.

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The team leaves slightly under the influence of vodka, religion and very strong coffee, bearing gifts from the artist - amongst others a wooden angel that will no doubt play a further role in this project.

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On the return from Scurcz a stop is made in Torun at the Centre for Contemporary Art. Another new building illustrating Poland’s dedication to the arts and amongst several exhibitions it hosts an installation Studio and Kitchen by our Polish team leader Tomek Rygalik.

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During the stay at the CCA there were multiple chances to see the new building where many of the project outcomes will be situated.

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The exchange of ideas, brainstorming and a healthy open sketch book approach amongst the designers proved a very good starting point for a promising project. The team would now travel to Dale, Norway, to further expand on new found ideas and take the project a step further, also gaining insight from a Norwegian way of life to add to the many Polish influences absorbed during the stay in Warsaw.

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Rooted Design at the Biednale (Poor Biennial) 2009
On April 30, 2009 at 4 pm, starting off with a glass of lemonade, we began the presentation of works created during the international workshops conducted in March 2009 at the Laboratory of The Centre for Contemporary Art at the Ujazdowski Castle. The works can still be seen at the headquarters of the Bęc Zmiana foundation at 65 Mokotowska Street, Warsaw. >>

shelf/seat on wheels – “Life/Food”:
Sławomir Budaj, Magda Czapiewska, Monika Elikowska-Opala, Karol Murlak, Marta Wycech

shelf of chairs – “Work/Final effect”:
Grzegorz Cholewiak, Cecila Dreyfert, Maja Ganszyniec, Paweł Jasiewicz, Ola Mirecka, Jakub Szczęsny

mobile chairs - element of “Auditorium”:
Tomasz Budzyń, Markus Degerman, Luis Eslava, Peter Marigold, Oscar Narud, Tomek Rygalik

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About Biednale (Poor Biennial):
In old Warsaw, Mokotowska Street used to be a street of wealthy townspeople. So it is today. It is a street of expensive restaurants, boutiques, shops with glamour designer goods and spa salons. Amidst this municipal-economic expanse, Bęc presents a strategy for contemporary times. Minimal input. Maximum search.

The experimental space of the small quarters that the Bęc Zmiana foundation rented, just after a shop that used to sell wooden cats moved out, bears the appearance of a bookshop and is a site where achievements of young generation designers are presented, lomo-shop, magazine reading-room, cultural information point and a place for meetings and presentations of interdisciplinary artistic activities.

21-22 March, 2009
Workshop led by Oscar Narud and Tomasz Rygalik.

The presentation of the effects of the workshop took place on Sunday, March 22 at the Centre’s Laboratory. >>

The Rooted Design workshop was the introduction to the entire scientific-creational project. Two days of work of 28 designers from two countries needs to be seen firstly as getting to know one another in a certain situation, creating a concept, designing, the need to defend one’s idea or the instance of collaboration. Two days of work is not of course enough to elaborate an entire solution, not enough for a final project. The created objects are a cluster of quickly noted thoughts, concepts, visions of conditions necessary to fulfil the aims set by the workshop leaders, or the contestation of the existing solutions, the effort to imply – even delicately – a new possibility, a fresh thought. Over a dozen fragments of the wild space of life of a residing artist, rather than to examples of design, can be compared to avant-garde works of art, installations. Many such were created and exhibited. What was more important – and this worked out ideally for the organisers and coordinators – was the effort to carry out designing in a slightly different way, with different sorts of tools, and what is also important, with a great amount of enthusiasm, and what is even more important, with humour and irony, which means designing pleasure.

See the list of participants.

The workshops were the beginning of a greater discussion that will carry on within the group continuing work during the whole project in Warsaw and Norway. The designers have put themselves in the position of artists carrying out their residencies. The aesthetics of the created objects, the do-it-yourself and collage style, clusters of both more and less processed objects locates them as quick 3D sketches that stimulate further work, quests and concrete solutions. The created objects do not resolve precise necessities, are not and were not to be final products. They are the fist swift step and no doubt a humorous one. The most important question is: are they a step that is constructive and cogent? Four designer groups divided between themselves the spheres of the life of a resident artist. They tried to conclude which elements of his surroundings will be adequate to specific activities, which objects can help in such activities.

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The kitchen sphere
(Eating, cooking, food)

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Food and its preparation have recently become one of the most important and most celebrated activities. In the life of an artist on the move this must also be the case. All the spheres of his activities must be intertwined. Surely, one can be inspired and create both in the studio and the kitchen. The fusion of cooking and eating with relaxation and fun turns out to be utmost natural and right. A kitchen worktop, just like a ping pong-pong table allows both the preparation of food (large and functional space) and its “social” consumption. Playing at food adopts a deeper sense, when on the move, the joining of functions seems to be an utmost correct action, or at least an element of further contemplation and the created object is definitely the beginning of such a discussion.

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The sphere of games and socialising (Play & socialise)

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A set of three objects, that in a rather accurate way try to define the needs within the sphere of fun, relaxation and socialising. Firstly, we have a variation based on the theme of a playground swing.

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Surely, everyone once in a while likes to return to the times of childhood, come away from reality. Even more so, if this can be done with someone else or in a group. Ways of spending free time in a social manner, for various reasons revolve around consumption. A solution which of course is not revolutionary but was noticed by the designers is a combination of a worktop, storage space with seats and a top that covers the entire object. The created mobile module, or maybe simply a table with seats, already when the workshop was still in progress drew a lot of attention, which means it fulfilled its purpose.

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The third element of the set was a “disco cocktail cabinet” – a piece of a grandma’s sideboard equipped with a technologically advanced system of Christmas tree lighting, disco mirror ball and sound system. A cocktail bar – the centre of residential events and integration.

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The sphere of sleep and relaxation
(Sleeping & relaxation)

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Among the remaining objects, created during the workshops, the work of the sleeping & relaxation team stayed on the conceptual–theoretical level. The designers became interested in the relation between the position of the human body and its activeness. Undoubtedly, a horizontal position means relaxation and rest, a vertical position points to activity, what about a slanting one… ? A construction comprising the functions of a lamp and a worktop is both an addition and a development of the theme. Those, who utilise this contraption, although maintaining a vertical position can relax by resting their heads on a pillow.

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(Input and inspiration)

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“The point of view is determined by the point of sitting.” This phrase precisely describes the project of the group, whose aim was to ponder the sphere of inspiration of artists – residents. The designers proposed a platform, a structure generally known under another name – mezzanine. The presence of an Artist in another country, city, surrounding, among new people, in itself is somewhat the realisation of the aims that the artists contained in the created object. Its role is to allow one to raise one’s head, widen one’s horizon, or just ascend above a certain level.

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Martin Kaltwasser’s answer

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The workshops chasing after a little extra space with another roll of sticky tape were undoubtedly, firstly, an interesting form of integration , secondly, a slightly crazy introduction into the subject, which is to be addressed during the entire project. The teams of designers tried in various ways to link-up with each other in different subjects – spheres of the life and work of an artist-resident. The results of their work are undoubtedly crazy objects – sketches. Amongst them all, one exceptionally needs noticing. It was created not as the effect of the work of one of the groups, but as the result of the thoughts, observations and personal experiences of Martin Kaltwasser, one of the inaugural lecturers and simultaneously resident of the a-i-r laboratory. When thinking about its functionality, size, form, durability risk the claim that it is capable of successfully organising the space of all activities. Martin Kaltwasser’s table in the context of the other objects proposed by the designers is the best confirmation of the rule that “less means more.” The process itself of creating the table, that is organising all the necessary elements (and at the same time the workplace), including the recycling of old nails, probably is an actual alternative.

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20-22.03.2009 20 March 2009 - talks and presentations
Laboratory room At the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle
From bricolage to use of decomposition as a design strategy, from longevity, through every day use to the cutting edge. Open for the public meetings, during which the designers connected with London RCA and the German artist and architect Martin Kaltwasser have presented their own visions of alternative design, have inaugurated Rooted Design for Routed Living project. >>

Programme of the meetings
20 March 2009

2:00 pm Oscar Narud & Tomek Rygalik: Usable,
not reusable / Project kick off
2:25 pm Martin Kaltwasser: Neither Ikea nor Vitra but D.I.Y. The city as a resource for the art of bricolage of Köbberling & Kaltwasser
3:30 pm Luis Eslava: Daily life objects, its design and its language
4:40 pm Peter Marigold / OKAY studio: Decay and Design
5:45 pm Roberto Feo / El Ultimo Grito: Abandon/ed Architectures: ‘A Chicken In Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage’
6:50 pm Oscar Narud & Tomek Rygalik: Summary

You will find more information about the talks in our workshops leaflet >> LEAFLET.PDF