ökoRAUSCH international – visiting our partner city Tunis
We, the ökoRAUSCH team, are currently preparing for our next ökoRAUSCH festival in 2020. Again we will invite designers and artists from different partner cities of Cologne to take part in our exhibition on sustainable design and in the international ECO DESIGN FORUM held during the festival time.
In 2016/17 we cooperated greatly with our partners from Istanbul, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem (Ramallah/Auja). Now, in 2019/20 we are undertaking research and networking trips to integrate new partner cities into our activities as well as to widen our network on sustainable design in Europe and the MENA-region (Middle East and North Africa). The first new city is Tunis, partner city of Cologne and capital of the Arab spring.
During a four-day-trip my colleagues Anna Kamphues, Liliana Marinho de Sousa and I researched the scene of sustainable design and social arts in the city, networked like crazy, held a small event to give a presentation on the ökoRAUSCH festival and also visited a design and fashion school in Monastir.
Tunis is teeming with sustainably working creatives and vibrant with exciting initiatives supporting the development of social and ecologically responsible design. The initiatives are surely enjoying the democratic freedom established by the revolution that gives them the possibilities to engage themselves for the topics they care about. The creative approaches revolve mainly around three central topics: reviving the medina (the old town) of Tunis, handicrafts and upcycling.
On our trip we were accompanied by our cooperation partner, the Collectif Creatif, an NGO promoting cultural activities and creative industries while embracing sustainability in its economic, social and environmental aspects. They realize events and projects that often stand in context to reviving the Medina, from „Interferences“, an international light arts festival, over the upcycling-space El Warcha, where they activate youth to build upcycling furniture for public spaces, to developing a curriculum for environmental clubs at high schools. We were accompanied by Dhafer Ben Khalifa, himself a designer and a teacher at the Higher Institute of Fashion Professions of Monastir, and Leila Ben Gacem, who runs the Bluefish agency.
With the support of our well connected partners the days were filled with exciting encounters and insights:
Thursday 31.10.2019: Higher Institute of Fashion Professions of Monastir
We visited the Higher Institute of Fashion Professions of Monastir where our cooperation partner Dhafer is teaching accessories design. The state institute firstly amazed us with its location at the seaside but also with its extensive equipment of fashion industry tools. Lecturers of the institute showed to be very interested in sustainable approaches to design and joined our talk about the ökoRAUSCH festival. Then we were presented an exhibition of a project on upcycling fashion and accessories that the students had undertaken during the last semester and who keenly introduced their absolutely amazing works.
Friday 1.11.2019: Networking like crazy
We ran through a tight programme of visiting four different design initiatives and one vernissage:
First we met Flayou, the agency of two product designers focused on cool, humorous, sustainable design. Did you ever want to pack the most intriguing architectural sights of a city into a small box to carry them home with you? Flayou makes it possible.
The next stop was Cogite, a coworking space comprising several shared workplaces as well as offices and support programs for start-ups, and – a swimming pool. We met with Houeida Anouar, Chief Executive Officer, who is keen to promote and encourage female entrepreneurship.
At the showroom of L’Artisanerie Lobna Saidi gave us insights into their support of artisans all over Tunisia; producers of upcycled carpets, pottery, basketry and palm wood carpentry are assisted in improving the organization of their work, in price-making, design and distribution.
Finally we got to know Minassa, an incubation hub for creative businesses located in a beautiful Medina mansion. They support start-ups from the fields of fashion over animation and media to décoration and artisanat (crafts), marketing e.g. new lines of pottery products.
In the evening we had the chance to visit the vernissage of the exhibition „Utopia“ initiated by the Goethe Institute Tunis on the occasion for 100 years of Bauhaus. Tunisian designers and artists were invited to create works commenting the concept of the Bauhaus. We again met the designers of Flayou and El Warcha who had contributed works to the exhibition.
Saturday 2.11. Talk Event in Dar Ben Gacem
Together with the Collectif Creatif we organized a talk and network event where we gave a presentation about the activities of the ökoRAUSCH Think Tank and sustainable design in Germany to Tunisian designers. We had decided on a rather cosy event of about 20 people, so all the designers present had time to introduce their work and there was plenty of time for intense exchange. Again, the merging of traditional crafts with modern design and upcycling materials marked the way of sustainable production for the Tunisian creatives. We were impressed by the participants – many run their own company selling their product line. And many of them are women. Just like Mariem Ben Abid, founder of the successful company Suddart, puts it: „If you want to get things done, work with women. So in my company, I work only with women.”
1.) Association Djerba Insolite (initiative supporting crafts in Djerba)
2.) Nina L. (upcycling leather bags)
3.) Suddart (cement tiles)
4.) Khansa Yazidi (bathroom taps and basins)
5.) Kimaenti (upcycling jewellery made of used clothes)
6.) Regliz Kidz (embroidery)
7.) Tin Hinan (leather bags)
8.) Naila Jendoubi, Sana Tamzini,(Ecole Superieure Des Sciences et Technologies Du Design: DDD Design Pour Le Développement Durable Des Productions Artisanales Locales): Master Studies on Design for Sustainable Development
9.) Sana Tamzini (artist)
Sunday 3.11.: More networking
The last day again was full of encounters. We visited the atelier of Marouan Zbidi, a member of the Collectif Creatif, who impressed us with his interpretations of traditional crafts. During a visit of the DIY and-Design-fair „Handmade“ in the Acropolium de Carthage we connected with the initiative Sejnenia which supports a groupe of women who are producing a certain kind of pottery in a traditional technique only existing in Sejnenia and rewarded as world heritage.
Finally a guided tour with Wajdi Borji, another member of the Collectif Creatif, offered us more insights into the social structure of life in the Medina and thus a deeper understanding of the work of the Collectif Creatif. Our visit finished with a dinner with Leila Chennoufi who is the initiator of Envirofest, an environmental film festival taking place all over Tunisia.
We were impressed by the variety and vibrancy of the sustainable design scene of Tunis and are already looking forward to presenting and seeing the creatives we met on the ökoRAUSCH Festival in Cologne. We thank our cooperation partners, the Collectif Creatif, for their great support!