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ECO Solidarity Returns with New Proposals to WANTED at ICFF2023

ECO Solidarity Returns with New Proposals to WANTED at ICFF2023

ECO Solidarity returned for 2023 with an exhibition and two panel discussions at WantedDesign Manhattan, May 21-23 at the Javits Center. The initiative featured design with empathy through the work of designers and studios from nine European countries addressing the most pressing conditions of human health in response to the environmental and humanitarian crises.

This year’s program was organized around two themes:

  1. Prevention and research, new sustainable materials and sustainable methods of implementation improving durability, circularity, recycling waste, carbon neutral and low emission productions, etc. that effectively improve human and environmental habitats. 
  1. Ethical issues surrounding design and architecture, reconstruction, recuperation, and healing in response to urgency of the current environmental and humanitarian crises resulting from military conflicts. Emphasis will be placed on redefinition of the role of architects and designers, manifested through interactive actions, city walks and site-specific interventions.

Through sharing research and resources on the newest sustainable design solutions, as well as engaging in actions and interventions, ECO Solidarity initiative aims to redirect the way the future post-war public spaces, living spaces, and shared environments, are envisioned.

ECO Solidarity booth at WantedDesign Manhattan 2022 | Jenna Bascom Photography

ECO Solidarity was initiated in 2020 by the Polish Cultural Institute New York in partnership with WantedDesign and close collaboration of European Union National Institutes for Culture in New York (EUNIC). The exhibit is co-curated by Odile Hainaut, Co-founder of WantedDesign, and Izabela Gola, Visual Arts and Design Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute NY and designed by Deborah Wang, Architect and Creative Director of DesignTO

“We are proud to bring ECO Solidarity back to WantedDesign Manhattan. After the accolades it received last year, we are confident that the selected nine European studios will continue to inspire, educate and create meaningful conversations. The notion of Empathy and Solidarity brought by the project’s collaborative approach and the support of nine cultural organizations and EUNIC is critical to developing responses. At the heart of the show, ECO Solidarity delivers a statement of what design can do and how it can serve a greater cause.”Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, WantedDesign Co-Founders and Brand Directors for ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan. 

In a time when we are facing war famine, extreme humanitarian crises and climate emergency, the role of cultural diplomacy is essential to address the needs of the next millennium. Echoing the spirit of the Polish Solidarity established in 1980, we call for unity among emerging designers, architects and thinkers from different countries to inspire change, to help re-envision the reconstruction of damaged public spaces, creating more resilient and safer human habitats, and protecting natural habitats.” – Izabela Gola, Visual Arts and Design Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York, initiator and co-curator of ECO Solidarity. 

Studio Plastique

Presented by Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode, Wallonie-Bruxelles Region, Belgium:

Founded in 2017 in Brussels by Theresa Bastek and Archibald Godts, research and design studio Studio Plastique is driven by an investigative mindset that critically reflects upon existing systems, structures and phenomena. Combining critical reflections with in-depth investigations of complex material supply chains and technological infrastructures their work results in explorations that aim to restore our relationships with nature, production methods, material cycles or economic potentials.

Presented by Czech Center New York, Czech Republic:

Founded by Eliška Novák, Balance is Motion is an award winning eco-design studio that seeks to connect design creativity with an analytical approach to environmental issues. The studio creates products and innovations with a measurable impact, as they search for balance between the needs of their clients, customers, and our planet.

Presented by Goethe-Institut New York, Germany:

CollColl is a design collective, based in Berlin and Munich who works between architecture, scenography and art. As an interdisciplinary team CollColl transforms urban spaces into participatory construction sites open to everybody. Employing circular materials, they use process- oriented, improvisational and explorative methods to activate public spaces and create structures that are open to multi use adaptation Rather than simply designing and executing, their projects take building as an end in itself, as an art form and as a performance.

Presented by Lithuanian Culture Institute, Lithuania:

Founded in 2020 by spatial designers and urban researchers, Aušra Česnauskytė and Goda Verikaitė, Neo-futuristic Walks is an urban laboratory which combines architectural, speculative design and performative practices. With this project, the co-founders aim to encourage creative engagements with urban spaces and stimulate collective imagination.

Presented by Polish Cultural Institute New York, Poland:

FALA Architektura is an architecture studio collective based in Gdańsk founded in 2018 by Kamila Szatanowska and Paulina Rogalska. The main area of FALA interest and research are not only innovative multifaceted circular materials and zero carbon footprint production and implementation methods, but the self-reflective philosophy of their own roles as architects in this place and time, in response to degrading ecosystem, urban deterioration, and natural disasters, as well as social and cultural changes. 

Presented by Romanian Cultural Institute New York, Romania:

FOR is a team of architects who decided to practice beyond the conventional boundaries of the field, offering services designed to foster innovation across the community and the city: spaces for collaborative work and growth for professionals, teams and projects, architecture services, and the ability to design, prototype and create in-house.

Presented by Consulate General of Slovak Republic in New York, Slovakia:

In 2015 and after countless trials and errors, Oto Nagy Sr. and his son, Oto Nagy Jr. perfected the process of replacing gravel in concrete, or crushed marble in terrazzo, with recycled plastics. Terratico’s purpose was to create an alternative to standard concrete with better sustainability properties, equal or improved structural properties, and help overcome the worsening plastic pandemic. Besides the excellent of the properties of this new building material, it is also attractive, more cost-effective, and greener than standard concrete.

Presented by Consulate General of Spain New York, Spain:

The differentiating value of Armombiedro Studio‘s work is its way of leaning on the different trades, incorporating the advice of experts in metal, stone and textiles, designing and working together with them. The result is an artisanal product made entirely in small workshops in Madrid in which each piece is made manually on request and individually. This direct attention allows a unique personalization, respectful of the individuality of the client, turning each piece into a collector’s item.

In parallel to the piece to be presented by this studio made with stone panels rescued from the demolition of a building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Mombiedro presents a project in collaboration with the Ukrainian association CO-HATY, which works on reconstructing spaces to accommodate war-displaced people, creating comfortable and dignified homes. The building focused on in the proposal, located in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, houses 140 people in a former nursery recently adapted by CO-HATY, the aim is to rehabilitate its common outdoor spaces with the participatory design of the residents.

Presented by EUNIC, Polish Cultural Institute New York, Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Poland and Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, Ukraine:

FAINA is a multi-disciplinary design brand that creates handcrafted living minimalism objects to convey the culture and nature senses and inspire for mindful living. A sensual expression of contemporary design rooted in Mother Earth and Ukrainian cultural heritage. FAINA is a timeless design functions as a decorative piece that becoming more like a talisman in your home because each object full of history.

ECO Solidarity 2023 Advisory Committee includes Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Jonsara Ruth, co-founder and Design Director, Healthy Material Labs; Paul Clemence, photographer, writer and curator exploring the cross-sections of design, art and architecture; and Tomek Rygalik, industrial designer, educator and founder of Studio Rygalik, which represents and promotes a sensible, holistic approach towards design.

ECO Solidarity has been fueled with the EUNIC Global Cluster Grant award from the EUNIC Global headquarters in Bruxelles in two consecutive years, 2022 and 2023.

ICFF Editors Award for Best Booth at ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan 2022.

ECO Solidarity panel discussion at WantedDesign Manhattan 2022 | Jenna Bascom Photography

ECO Solidarity Panel Discussions at ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan

Attendees of ICFF + WDM had the chance to hear the ECO Solidarity designers share their insights and vision in two informative talks held on the show floor.

Sunday, May 21, 11: 00 AM –  ECO Solidarity, Part I

Moderated by Deborah Wang, Artistic Director and Curator, DesignTO
Featuring: CollColl (Dorian Cani), FALA (Kamila Szatanowska), Neo-Futuristic Walks (Goda Verikaitė), Studio Plastique (Archibald Godts), and Terratico (Andrea Nagyova).

We Need a Revolution.

At a time when environmental and humanitarian crises reach a critical apex, architects and designers need to reexamine their role. In some ways these creatives are undergoing a crisis of their own as they assess their complicity in maintaining the status quo to, instead, shape and innovate new responses that address waste, wellbeing, circular economies, and speculative futures.

Tuesday | May 23, 11:00 AM – ECO Solidarity, Part II

Moderated by Cynthia E Smith, curator of the Designing Peace exhibition currently on display at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Featuring: Ángel Mombiedro, Armombiedro Studio (Spain); Filip Mirbauer, Balance is Motion (Czech Republic); Victoria Yakusha, FAINA (Ukraine); and Pepe Peralta Guerrero, FOR (Romania).

Designing the future we want to live in – today.

How can design respond to increasingly urgent social, environmental, and humanitarian crises? A considered conversation on how we might combine our creative forces to envision the future we want to live in and take action to create it.

ECO Solidarity Walk Program

Monday, May 22 –  CARE. Sensory Walk

CARE is a city walk focused on haptics and smell. 

Meet in the main lobby of the Javits Center, near Starbucks.Together with a group of participants, Kamila Szatanowska and Paulina Rogalska of the Polish multidisciplinary design office FALA will lead a walk to open our senses and experience the space of the city. Amid the hustle and bustle of New York, we will find balance and look for nature in ourselves.

By developing mindfulness and devoting time to ourselves, we have a greater potential to open up to the environment, noticing its needs and empathy towards human and non-human neighbors of everyday life. CARE extends the premise of FALA’s exhibition at WantedDesign Manhattan to the city.

Meet at the 34th Street entrance to the Highline, between the Hudson River and 11th Avenue. 

Monday, May 22 –  NEO-FUTURISTIC Walks: New York City

Neo–futurists are not afraid of floods, hurricanes or droughts. They have already lived through many apocalypses and trained their eyes and feet to spot the signs of danger. 

– From the Neo-futurists’ manifesto

In the turbulent times of climate emergency, architects and urban designers continuously face questions about architecture’s involvement in climate change. Is it enough to follow the green dreams and focus on the so-called sustainable solutions for a quick fix? Or do we need a more long-term and challenging approach?

The rising sea level as an inescapable condition will dramatically affect our habits and change our city landscapes. The cities lying below or just slightly above sea level are extremely fragile urban areas. What will happen when water comes closer to our home? Can we learn to embrace this new condition in flux? If so, how?

Neo-futuristic Walks: New York City is a walkshop organized by Aušra Česnauskytė and Goda Verikaitė, addressing climate emergencies with a particular focus on the flood threat. By inspecting NYC on foot and creating new climate fictions, they will question how walking and speculative storytelling can unfold new relationships between people and water in urban environments that are at risk of flooding.

ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan, May 21-23 at the Javits Center.

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