Under the current circumstances it is not possible for the project partners to meet in person – so we sadly had to cancel our planned encounter in Malta in the beginning of April and instead met virtually in our home offices spread all over Europe – from Spain, Portugal and Malta in the South, to Austria and Hungary in the Middle and up to Norway in the North – even reaching into the US to our stranded exhibition designer.
Regular videoconferences of the Steering Committee on a monthly basis had already been in action before the pandemic crisis and we are keeping it up, as it is a great way to keep everyone in the loop, discuss project relevant issues and make important decisions – and on top of it: it’s always nice to see each other once in a while (this time our Irish colleagues were also able to join us)!
The week of our Artistic Residence has been full of interesting and noteworthy encounters, both on personal and professional level, of the twelve selected designers, that had been chosen by the project partners to come up with ideas for merchandise products based on archival documents.
Find herea concise report summarising the events and highlights of the Artistic Residence.
Following our survey in 2019 aiming at the silver generation and their personal experience with archives, we would now like to take a closer look at initiatives that archival institutions are offering to senior users: for example as voluntary workers or involving them in micro tasks like identifying and describing items in pictures or similar.
The main goal of all of this is to summarise and evaluate existing initiatives and to come up with ideas, recommendations etc. for European archival institutions on how to reach and actively cooperate with the target group of senior citizen – the Silver Generation, also considering making use of the knowledge and interest in (local) history, motivation and availability of this specific audience.
Friday morning commenced with the finalisation of previous day’s group co-working exercise and the presentation of the same on the beautiful roof terrace of Loom Princesa:
Group 1 – Ángel Merlo, Diogo Bessa, Hansjörg Schwab and Dorá Rea Kövér chose the Spanish manuscript “Samples of Jelly of bones for troops foodstuff” for the design of the adolescent’s product, coming up with a collection of fun ideas such as a Ranger belt filled with sweet pills simulating the ones in the manuscript or different jars equally filled with sweets similar to the original pills.
For their second product, they chose the Maltese manuscript “Relic Containing Fragment of Jesus’ Manger, 1710” and came up with ideas for a series of physical products, like a jewellery box, a pacifier with the design of the relic, or a facefilter-app using different filters related to the relic:
The team came up with a variety of street fashion T-shirt-designs playing with the iconic shape of the bridge as well as relating to the relevance of the date – 25.04. (1974 Carnation Revolution – national holiday of Portugal) and using the colours of the Portuguese flag in different combinations.
The second design was based on a Maltese manuscript “License to Fortunato Vella to practice the profession of a pharmacist, 24 September 1770” including a small manual of herbs used in the 18th century. The group picked up on the beautiful floral framing of the document and transferred it to a modern time first aid kit:
Group 3 – Catarina Silva, Clint Tabone, Kristin Bø and Olga Toral Gambín chose a manuscript from Hungary: “Front page of István Lülik`s Slovenian-Hungarian” alphabet book. The designers came up with a series of ideas targeting adolescents: using the letters and the specific font for stencils, stickers, temporary tattoos etc. or for digital messages.
The second design idea was based on a manuscript from Portugal “Book of Marinharia, by Joäo de Lisboa, 1560” including beautifully illustrated maps. The group used the different cartographic symbols for a collection of paper napkins, flags, paper plates, tablecloth etc. under the motto “Navigating the party” (the whole collection based on recyclable material).
All presentations were delivered with as much enthusiasm and positive energy that characterised the whole week of the artistic residence!
A big thank you to all the designers and of course our hosts from the Spanish State Archives for this exceptional experience!
The first three days had focussed on the already prepared designs, prototypes and ideas of the individual designers – on day 4 our hosts had planned a different approach: the 12 designers were split into 3 groups and given several “hidden treasures” from our participating archives to choose from and use as basis to elaborate ideas for two merchandising products each- one aiming at a general audience, the other targeting teenagers.
The groups had time until noon to draft and sketch some first ideas that were meant to be elaborated and presented the next day.
The afternoon was then again given to 2 inspiring visits:
1. Renowned designer Alvaro Catalan de Ocón welcomed the group in his new design studio, giving highly interesting and personal insights into his prized design projects, such as the “PET Lamps” – an ambitious and fruitful project that mixes the reuse of PET plastic bottles with selected traditional weaving techniques from different corners of the world in order to create unique handmade lampshades:
In the vicinity of the ACdO-studio lies the spacious complex of the “Matadero Madrid – Centre for Contemporary Creation”, the city’s former slaughterhouse and cattle market – one of the most singular industrial establishments of early 20th-century Madrid architecture, transformed in 2006 into a vibrant centre for contemporary arts.
Our designers had the chance to visit two exhibitions by organised by DIMAD (Madrid Designers Association):
“Fresh Product” displaying the year’s best products designed by Madrid designers or produced by local businesses.
“MARCA” a collection of objects for daily use, the result of collaboration between selected designers and manufacturing companies located in the province of Turin. The project is promoted and supported by the Turin Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Piemonte Agency.
Exhibition of the shortlisted projects for the “Toca Madera” competition for young professional designers
Exhibition devoted to Patricia Urquiola – focussing on her work as a designer, showing her works for industrial production, occasionally for craft production and frequently for the cross between them both.
Afterwards Ms Cristina Alovisetti Ruiz-Ogarrio, General Manager at the Museo Nacional del Prado Difusión shared her experience in handling the communication and dissemination of such a big and internationally active institution.
The first day of our week-long artistic residency started with a brief introduction of the project’s expected outcome and main goals, followed by a session of short presentations of the designers themselves, to get to know each other.
The presentations were each followed by a question-and-answer session, while later on the whole group deepened the impressions in 2 short brainstorming sessions.
The final activity of the first day was the common visit to the Museo del Prado‘s permanent collection, trying to get new impressions and inspiration for other merchandise products to be commonly developed in the course of the artistic residency.
The coworking space “Loom Princesa” in the centre of Madrid will be the steam boiler of creative energy during the upcoming week of 17th to 21st of February 2020.
Our 12 selected graphic and industrial designers from Austria, Hungary, Malta, Norway, Portugal and Spain will get together to present, evaluate and discuss prototypes of merchandising objects based on key documents from the project partners’ archival holdings.
The fine line our creative minds had to balance while preparing named objects was, how to bridge a historical context depicted by an archival document into merchandise with out-of-the-box changeovers, but without unhinging the relevance the archival treasure has in view of our shared European heritage! Not an easy task – but we are expectantly looking forward to a variety of solutions and products to be presented during and after the residency- as each designer has his/her own creative focus, preferred working method and material, educational background etc.!
The first year of our project has passed and we would like to share some of our experiences, achievements and activities with you:
Starting point for all our efforts concerning the enhancement of the visibility of archival treasures was the selection of such documents from the vast holdings of the participating archives. During the preparation phase even before the official start of the project in October 2018, the partners agreed on 3 different thematic areas that would be the basis for the 3 planned interactive, multimedia exhibitions:
The construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years
Exiles, Migratory flows and Solidarity
European Discoveries: From the New World to New Technologies
All partner institutions made a first pre-selection of unique, noteworthy and so-far hidden archival documents, creating a pool of storytelling objects to draw from. The three lead partners of the different exhibitions then made a second and final selection, reaching a number of about 40 documents per topic/exhibition.
Currently three expert historians, hired by the exhibition lead partners, are in charge of the contextualisation of the documents and creating a common thread to link the objects with the story of each exhibition. Additionally our partners from the Cork Institute of Technology are working on the trans-medial part of the exhibitions – featuring videogames and interactive storytelling – to attract also the younger generation.
The year 2020 will see the finalisation of the exhibitions, to have them circle around Europe by the beginning of 2021!