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ECO Solidarity was initiated in 2020 by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and Studio Rygalik, in collaboration with WantedDesign: ECO Solidarity 2020 – The Cirgula.org
A multidisciplinary hybrid project, an initiative and a movement developed with WantedDesign, which seeks unity and solidarity through design + architecture focused on Ecology, climate change, the key concepts of the Green New Deal, sustainability, public well-being, public health and their social implications in public spaces, facing new pandemic challenges in COVID-19 era.

This year’s edition is produced and presented in partnership with the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) organizations: Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA, Wallonie-Bruxelles International New YorkCzech Center New York, Goethe-Institut New York, Arts Council Malta in New York, and Romanian Cultural Institute New York.

For 2021, ECO Solidarity was be presented at ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan CLOSEUP (May 17-18, 2021) and at WantedDesign’s Online Exhibition from June 15- August 15.

ECO Solidarity addresses urgency for:

  • Human-centered, Green New Deal-aligned product design, architecture, and public space.
  • Sustainable design solutions focused on climate change ecology, public wellbeing, public health.
  • Real-life applicable solutions addressing Covid-19 public health crisis.
  • Inclusivity and diversity: providing equal opportunity to designers from all genders and races
  • Prioritizing European emerging designers interested in developing collaborations in the US

EUNIC, European Union National Institutes for Culture – is the European network of organizations engaging in cultural relations. Together with our partners, we bring to life European cultural collaboration in more than 90 countries worldwide with a network of over 120 clusters, drawing on the broad experience of our members from all EU Member States and associate countries.

EUNIC advocates a prominent role of culture in international relations and is a strategic partner of the EU, actively involved in the further definition of European cultural policy. EUNIC is a platform for knowledge sharing and for capacity building amongst its members and partners.

ECO Solidarity’s Advisory Committee

Arts Council Malta in New York: Jevon Vella, Deputy Director, MCAST Institute for the Creative Arts
Austrian Cultural Forum New York: Martina Fineder
Delegation of Flanders to the USA: Axel Clissen, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Socle
Goethe-Institut New York: Dunja Karabaic, Designer, Teacher and Founder of oekoRAUSCH Festival for Design & Sustainability
Polish Cultural Institute New York: Ewa Bińczyk, Professor of Philosophy
Romanian Cultural Institute New York: Adriana Blidaru, Curator, Founding editor of Living Content
Czech Center New York: Danica Kovářová, Editor-in Chief for Dolce Vita Magazine and Curator
Wallonie-Bruxelles International New York: Giovanna Massoni, Independent Curator
Special advisor: Tomek Rygalik, Founder of Studio Rygalik

Selected Designers

Aha Objects
Arts Council Malta in New York

Sorġi is an ongoing research project about opportunities for circularity in Malta, whose first outcome is an outdoor furniture collection for public spaces, highly critical of the booming construction industry. Six benches inspired by six buildings affected by the local construction frenzy will stand both as a memento of today’s choices and a suggestion for tomorrow’s actions. Every piece is made of recycled construction waste (limestone, broken terrazzo, marble offcuts and fragments of glass among others) and tells the story of the building that inspired it, contributing to the need for tangible solutions to the sheer amount of discarded materials that keeps accumulating on the island, while promoting circularity and raising awareness on environmental issues within a larger audience. Sorġi is literally an invitation to sit down (from the Maltese ‘Sorga’, meaning ‘to politely ask someone to sit down’) and observe the ever-changing Maltese built landscape from a different perspective.


EOOS Next – Austrian Cultural Forum New York

More than 35% of the world‘s population lack access to safe sanitation. The vision of this project is to empower local craftsmen around the world to integrate EOOS NEXTs ‘URINE TRAP’, a passive urine separation technology, into toilets that can be produced locally and integrated into already existing toilet slabs. The ODM was created by female designers and improved with feedback out of a co-creation process provided by craftsmen in South Africa. The production of the open-source urine diverting squat toilet is explained with a step-by-step pdf and a video manual. Simple production techniques are presented in an easy-to-understand way, reaching people with various backgrounds, providing business opportunities and building capacities. By sourcing material locally, import, transport and storage of often rarely available squat pans is eliminated, and resources are being saved. In BoP markets, the ODM can significantly contribute to the skipping of 4 out of 5 steps on the sanitary ladder: from open defecation to basic sanitation. Urine Diversion is key to improve basic sanitary conditions. Urine mixed with feces causes smell and larger tank or pit volumes, it increases the growth of pathogens which relates to diseases, nitrogen loads in aquatic systems and prevents eutrophication. The reuse of nitrogen and phosphorus for agricultural purposes follows a circular economy thinking and gives an opportunity to create business models such as the production of biological fertilizer for agriculture. Furthermore, the need of artificial fertilizer the costs and emission of transportation and import is avoided. O.D.M. was designed by EOOS NEXT in 2020. Lena Beigel is the lead designer of this project and responsible for prototyping, manufacturing and the production of the step-by-step manual.


LivableDelegation of Flanders to the USA

‘A biobased future made from local residual flows by social employment and a collaborative approach.’ ONTketen (UNchain) is a collaboration between the social green maintenance company Pro Natura , technology partner Circular Matters and the Livable design platform. Livable Platform provides guidance in the design process in which we explore residual flows together with the employees of Pro Natura. Through the expertise of Circular Matters, we explore new bio-based applications. With ‘UNchain’ we want to shorten the long chain of standard synthetic materials and focus on local residual flows. Thanks to meaningful employment and a creative process, these can be transformed into high-quality bio-based solutions.


Algaeing –
Goethe-Institut New York

Algaeing is a textile innovation company that harnesses the power of renewable algae to create real impact against climate change. We formulate planet-positive, scalable solutions for manufacturing fibers and dyeing fabrics all in a 100% closed system that can be used with existing production machinery. By offering both fiber and dye solutions, we’re changing the way garments are made from the inside out. Our algae-based dyes and fibers are not only good for our planet , but are also good for our skin by leveraging the benefits of the algae to nourish and protect our body. We’re saving 80% of water consumption normally used in fashion production and preventing water pollution globally. Algaeing provides the world of fashion with the tools needed to transform into a planet-positive industry.


 – Polish Cultural Institute New York

“Designing interconnections” is a project that started in 2018 and is still developing. It shows how the fields of art, science, health and ecology are connected. It consists of several smaller intertwined with each other projects about: pollution as a resources and bioremediation (Biomine project), urban farming where foods are grown as medicine (IKEA project), light therapy (IKEA and Televisor project), bioelectronics (Biodegradable photo-voltaic cells made from food).


Atelier Ad Hoc
 – Romanian Cultural Institute New York

As an attempt of redefining the limit, the project uses the existing spatial and human resources of the temporary night shelter in the Pantelimon neighborhood, in order to respond and upgrade the daily needs of the homeless people who currently live there. The property limit is used as a space for mediation and negotiation, a position that would question the street and its role as a public space and the shelter as public infrastructure. In response to the excessive presence of fences in the Bucharest public spaces, the project proposes a new form of the border made out of 48 storage units, a neighborhood resource collector, a covered space, and a planter. The presence of the equipment extends and completes the shelter’s restrictive night-time schedule, allowing individual access to personal belongings throughout the day by transforming the existing property limit from an object of separation into a space that is continuously defined through its everyday use. The limit acts as a flexible storage apparatus for personal belongings, a necessary feature that does not exist inside the shelter. By placing the equipment on the border of the property, they influence both the internal routine of the shelter and the activities carried out in public spaces by the residents of the center. Although it does not solve the precariousness of such living conditions, the intervention cultivates through construction, management and use, the individual identity and the collective responsibility of the sheltered homeless, mediating their relationship with the neighborhood. The existing boundary is negotiated between two instances of concern related to public space: the street – open for collective activities and the shelter – with controlled access, situated in the care of the Local Administration, thus redefining the shelter’s relationship with the neighborhood. The project transforms a marginal situation – both spatial and social – into a new place with multiple uses, upgrading the living conditions from an official temporary shelter to an informal semi-permanent accommodation. From a separation tool, the boundary becomes a space for help and interaction, that consolidates their living situations, which helps in the end to create a relatively safe perimeter.


Herrmann & CoufalCzech Center New York

The project explores a designer’s relationship to the “do it yourself” phenomenon. It shows that self-made production does not have to be perceived only as a low-cost, alternative, and unaesthetic solution – on the contrary, it highlights its benefits for both individuals and society. In addition to environmental aspects (such as reduction of transport, packaging, and commercial overproduction), it brings the human approach to products and makes their users understand and appreciate hidden ideas. The creation process thus becomes an integral part of the final product, a shared experience.


Studio Plastique
Wallonie-Bruxelles International New York

Flax is a crop with a strong European heritage. As it grows well in the coastal areas of Western Europe, a strong industry and economy has flourished around flax and its processed products up until today. We all know the fine linen cloth, lace, linseed oil, linseed oil-based paint, to name a few. However, the production of fibre-based products is increasingly delocalised to other parts of the world. This pressure from a globalised economy is leading the flax growers and processors to reach out to scientists and designers looking into the potential of this versatile crop beyond its traditional products.
Linseeds, linseed oil and byproducts are the subject of investigation for the project of Studio Plastique as they set out to explore and design innovative ways to apply them. Their ultimate aim is to offer alternative and diversified visions and opportunities for the European flax industry that stands under great pressure from global competition. Their process is divided into 4 levels of understanding: The Seed – analysis of the seed itself, its contexts of production and transformation; Geopolitical – mapping of the economy and politics of flax and its products; Material – the understanding and development of various new and exciting material and design possibilities based on linseeds, linseed oil and byproducts; Food – an exploration of the attributes and benefits of linseeds and linseed oil as a nutriment; Hygiene – an exploration of the antibacterial and hygienic properties of linseed oil Linen Lab is a project that was initiated by Studio Plastique in 2019, commissioned by F.E. Mc William Gallery, Banbridge (UK) and continued for Lille World Design Capital 2020, Maison POC Circular Economy and Crafts NL during Dutch Design Week 2020.