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[Live Conversation] Eco-Solidarity

[Live Conversation] Eco-Solidarity

Presented with Polish Cultural Institute New York. Hosted by Jaime Derringer of Design Milk, with designer Tomek Rygalik, the founder of TRE Product and Studio Rygalik, and faculty at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw; Joel Towers, Parsons School of Design; and Carolina Rubio-MacWright, Touching Land.

Eco-Solidarity is a multidisciplinary project that addresses the urgency for a more human-centered approach to art, design and architecture, and their social implications in public spaces. The public furniture and sculpture Circula by designer Tomek Rygalik, founder of circula.org, was the impetus for our conversation today. Eco-Solidarity also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Solidarity creation which united displaced parts of communities in a shared cause, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and set Poland on a course toward democracy.


The conversation touched on different aspects of sustainability, social impact, product design ,and how to utilize recycled/ecological materials (plastic and eco-wood) and industrial waste technologies in public space. We also discussed how to foster community discourse around these issues through the medium of innovative contemporary design.

Jaime’s first question was to Joel Towers. He talked about climate change and how it is related to design and sustainability. Then, Carolina Rubio-MacWright discussed, on a global level, the ways climate change is impacting entire communities and how we now have “climate refugees.”

Our three guests talked about the importance of design education and how to inform the next generation of designers. Tomek Rygalik shared the story of his work developing Circula, a series of functional public furniture sculptures designed to host interdisciplinary discourse around the urgency of the climate crisis. In the face of a global pandemic, this project has taken on another dimension of purpose in the potential to assist recovery and reconnection in the aftermath of isolation and social distancing.

Watch the recording


About our guests

Carolina Rubio-MacWright is an artist, immigration lawyer and activist fighting for immigrant and humanitarian rights. She has mixed her law and art into the perfect platform called Touching Land, a program that uses hands on experiential arts as a tool for immigrant empowerment and community building. At Touching Land, immigrants learn about their rights and self-worth as they make a ceramic piece or learn how to cook. The program also has a building bridges track, where cross cultural exchange happens as immigrants and American citizens come together through the power of art.

Tomek Rygalik is the lead designer at Studio Rygalik working on architecture and products, founder and creative director of furniture and accessories brand TRE Product; cofounder of the rural creative campus Sobole, and an open minded educator at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

Joel Towers is Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Parsons School of Design. He is also the Director of The Tishman Environment and Design Center, and a University Professor at The New School. In 2009 he was appointed Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design and he finished his 2nd term in that role in June 2019. Under his leadership, Parsons completed major curricular reforms, launched several new graduate and undergraduate programs, constructed an integrated, 27,000 sq. ft. cross-disciplinary making facility and raised millions of dollars in scholarship, research, and capital funds.

See a recap for the WantedDesign Manhattan Online Conversation Series, presented with Design Milk + Clever, at wanteddesignnyc.com/online

Check out the Clever Extra with Tomek Rygalik

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