ökoRAUSCH international – visiting our partner city Thessaloniki
For the preparation of ökoRAUSCH festival for Design and Sustainability taking from 28th August till 24th September 2020 we, the ökoRAUSCH team, went on two research and networking trips to partner cities of Cologne, first Tunis (November 2019), then to Thessaloniki (February 2020); with the goal to integrate new partner cities into our activities, to widen our network on sustainable design in Europe and the MENA-region and to find exhibitors for the ökoRAUSCH exhibition. In times of the Covid19-Pandemie, it proves to become even more important to show international exhibitors from our four partner cities Thessaloniki, Tunis, Istanbul and Barcelona in the ökoRAUSCH exhibition. They will highlight the variety and vibrancy of sustainable design in different countries and cultures, especially in countries prone to social and political changes. The international exhibits mean a way of international exchange of ideas, concepts and methods in times when personal exchange is restrained by the restrictions of the pandemic.
How can design contribute to social change? This question is the driving force behind ökoRAUSCH’s international commitment: Thus, the choice for the research trips was made for Tunis and Thessaloniki. Both cities have experienced great upheaval: for Tunis, it was the Arab Spring in 2011; for Thessaloniki, it was the Greek economic crises of 2010. During a four-day-trip from 17.-20.2.2020 my colleagues Anna Kamphues, Isabel Oestreich and I connected with impressive cooperation partners and visited creative thinkers in their ateliers, studios and project spaces in Thessaloniki. We held an ECO DESIGN TALK, where we not only introduced ökoRAUSCH, but we also presented and connected socio-ecologically oriented creative thinkers from the respective local scene.
Thessaloniki is home to the full range of ecological and social creativity. It is often focused on the activation of people through performances in public spaces, neighbourhood makerspaces, support programmes for creative thinkers and political activities. Our cooperation partner Artbox is dedicated to employ arts for activating people.
Our cooperation partner: Artbox (17.02. and 19.02.2020)
Our first day in Thessaloniki was dedicated to getting to know our fabulous cooperation partner, Lydia Chatziiakovou of Artbox (www.artbox.gr), creative arts management office. Artbox is dedicated to the concept of postindustrial design. In their projects LABattoir (2017-2019) and Common Lab (started 2020), they combine the support of young creative thinkers with the ambition to use art and performances to activate different population groups in a troubled neighbourhood of Thessaloniki. Two days later, we got to understand the project work more deeply by an excursion around the problematic area. We experienced the area of abandoned industrial buildings, desolate apartment blocks but also artists‘ refuges and learned which spots were enlivened by the performances and workshops of the previous project LABattoir, and where the new project Common Lab will take place.
In office of Artbox, we also met two other creatives: Danae Theodoridou is a performance artist set between Thessaloniki and Brussels who activates people to do performances in public space provoking reactions and raising democratic awareness. Maria Stroumpa triggers youngsters for sustainability with her environmental education project Kookoonari (Supported by START – create cultural change by Goethe-Institut and Bosch Foundation).
Excursions to Ateliers: 18.02.2020
The day was filled with excursions to designers, artists and small businesses paving the way to a greener society. First, we dived into the field of innovative agricultural business concepts. Rhoeco produces organic locally grown herbal tea from Greece and highlights the company’s business concept through a creative packaging: the tea comes in a compostable plant pots, the cover holds a stick with the seeds of the herbs in the tea mixture – so go ahead and grow your herbal tea yourself. The artist Giorgos Gerontides welcomed us in his studio and we delved into his world of found objects, sorted, arranged, interpreted and conceived ahead into their own wonderous worlds – like the fictitious the sea glass factory. A celebration of the abundance of the world of the lost and found, of reusing and recycling, and a criticism to consumerism. The next stop got sportive. At the office of ELEKTRONIO Handcrafted Vehicles we stepped onto handmade electronic tricycles. Ana Chlioura and Pantelis Zarkos design and build the electronic tricycles themselves in the basement of their shop. They aim to make cycling more comfortable and more popular in Thessaloniki. Finally, we got to know Dimitris Koliadimas from Semiotik Design, Thessaloniki’s famous graphic design agency, who explained his approach to sustainable graphics.
ECO DESIGN TALK 19.02.2020
For our evening ECO DESIGN TALK jointly held with Artbox we were warmly hosted by the Goethe-Institute Thessaloniki. We presented the activities, development and goals of the ökoRAUSCH festival. Lydia Chatziiakovou introduced Artbox and how the creative arts management office works with the concept of postindustrial design. Local designers, artists, and initiatives presented their projects and activities. For many of them the event meant their first exchange. Two of the projects were supported by START- create cultural change, a support programme of the Goethe-Institute and the Bosch Foundation. This gave us an insight how this support programme activates the environmental and social creative activities of people.
1.) Farmers get activated in the rural maker space Tzoumakers, introduced by Alex Pazaitis, In the rural common makerspace they build their own tools for local agricultural production, commonly owned and used. 2.) The visually impaired are involved and stimulated in the collaborative development of inclusive tools that open up artworks in museums for the blind in the project Minds Eye for by Stela Anastasaki (supported by START). 3) Neighbours are encouraged to skill sharing and social cohesion in the Neighbourhood’s Rooms of the NGO PERA creative community spaces in three neighbourhoods of Thessaloniki offering free access to tools and equipment and meeting and workshop spaces (Introduced by Terpsihori Giannakina). 4.) Neighbours also get involved in the creation of green and communal-used spaces in the context of a typical Greek “πολυκατοικία” (apartment building) in the project Commons in Residency (supported by START; presented by Periklis Chatzinakos). 5.) Agriculture, architecture and art students exchanged knowledge and practices of their fields and manifest them in product designs mapping the relationship between agriculture and design in an Agro.design workshop (presented by Dr. George Liamadis, Assistant Professor and Head of the Lab of Industrial Design in the School of Visual and Applied Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).
Some connections of our previous excursions, Rhoeco, Giorgos Gerontides and ELECTRONIO also joined the ECO DESIGN TALK.
Excursion to Viome: 20.02.2020
Viome is a vigorous, impressive cooperative of workers who occupied their factory in the course of the economic crisis in Greece in 2011 and have been producing ecological cleaning agents therein since then. During a visit to the factory grounds, we were deeply impressed by the commitment of the workers. They not only manage to sustain their struggle for over eight years now but have created a giant network of solidarity and support and have become a meeting point for political exchange. Just like they slogan their goal on the packaging of their handmade soaps: producing organic soap in order to resist against unemployment and depression.
We are looking forward to exhibiting the projects found on the ökoRAUSCH Festival taking place in Cologne in September 2020. We thank our cooperation partner Artbox for the wonderful support!
Die Recherchereise nach Tunis und Thessaloniki im Rahmen des ECO DESIGN FORUM international veranstalten wir als Kooperationspartner der Stadt Köln. Das Projekt wird gefördert durch die Stadt Köln aus Mitteln der Partnerstadtprogramme und Engagement Global aus Mitteln des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen.