At a moment when the world grapples with climate change, bold new ideas are needed more than ever. It is with this urgency in mind that eight countries have come together to announce the second edition of ECO Solidarity, an international project, movement, and initiative focused on design solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time. Eight visionary designers were selected to share products and projects that thoughtfully consider positive social impact, design empathy, and sustainable materials. ECO Solidarity will launch as part of the CLOSEUP 2021 presented by ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan event on May 18th, 2021 during two thought-provoking sessions, followed by an expanded online exhibition in June.
This inspiring movement, initiated in 2020 by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and Tomek Rygalik of Studio Rygalik in partnership with WantedDesign, continues its mission with eight European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) organizations to address the imperative need for human-centered design in response to humanitarian and public health crises by focusing on ecology, the climate emergency, public health, wellbeing in public spaces, and how shifts in the economy affects people’s lives. In alliance with WantedDesign’s co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, the ECO Solidarity 2021 program will also strive to address the key objectives of the Green New Deal, through interior and product design as well as spatial planning. “At WantedDesign, we have focused on sustainability as a topic in our programming for several years as we understand the importance of always keeping it top of mind,” explains Hainaut. “ECO Solidarity is not only a design exercise—it shines the light on designers who think about our future and propose ideas that push the conversation forward and help create a more sustainable, conscious, and harmonious way of living. Pijoulat adds, “The international exchange of ideas is key to what WantedDesign does, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring eight European countries and regions together for the ECO Solidarity project at CLOSEUP in May and the WantedDesign Online Exhibit in June.”
To create a timely, forward-thinking project of the scale of ECO Solidarity, the eight EUNIC institutions tapped some of the most innovative emerging and established designers and leading field experts from their countries. The partnering organizations and their nominees include: Austrian Cultural Forum New York in cooperation with Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and Vienna Business Agency (Lotte Kristoferitsch, EOOS NEXT); Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA (Sep Verboom, Livable); Wallonie-Bruxelles International New York (Theresa Bastek and Archibald Godts, Studio Plastique); The Czech Center (Eduard Herrmann and Matěj Coufal, Herrmann & Coufal); Goethe-Institut New York, (Renana Krebs, Algaeing); Arts Council Malta in New York, (Anna Horvath, AHA Objects); Polish Cultural Institute New York, (Paulina Grabowska, NAS-DRA Conscious Design; and Romanian Cultural Institute (George Marinescu and Maria Daria Oancea, Atelier Ad Hoc).
ECO Solidarity is a platform for designers to convene on issues relating to sustainability and the circular economy. The underlying objective is to unite design disciplines and industries around the globe in a resolve to create more ecologically-sound, human-centered designs that protect the environment, our health, and ecosystems—thereby restoring integrity in fractured communities and addressing the current humanitarian and climate hazards affecting our world.
Flemish Field Expert, Axel Clissen says “ECO Solidarity comes at a time where the world is realizing more than ever that joint efforts are essential to creating a unified and sustainable path forward. As such, the ambition of ECO Solidarity should lie beyond the design community as it deserves to aim for a global, broad, and diversified reach. The selection of narratives displayed show the true ingenuity humankind is capable of and aspire to in a world where nature and civilization go hand in hand.”
The program will commence at CLOSEUP 2021 presented by ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan, a platform to showcase design, and feature two 45-minute sessions on May 18, 2021 in which the participating designers will showcase their product launches, brands, and project presentations followed by panel discussions. The designers will be split into one of two categories based on their product/projects. The first session entitled, Design with Empathy: Public Spaces and Social Impact (10:05 AM EST) will feature AHA Objects, Atelier Ad Hoc, EOOS NEXT, and Herrmann & Coufal. The second session’s theme, Sustainable Material and Process: Research and Innovation (11:00 AM EST), will spotlight Algaeing, Livable, NAS-DRA Conscious Design, and Studio Plastique. Registration to attend either or both sessions is available on CLOSEUP’s website or through the following link.
A two-month-long online exhibition curated by Odile Hainaut and Claire PIjoulat in consultation with the show’s Advisory Committee—itself composed of academic field experts nominated by each participating institution—which will be presented by WantedDesign and hosted on WantedDesignnyc.com from June 15–August 15, 2021. The entire program is formulated to bring attention to sustainable, contemporary design solutions with a special emphasis on helping fractured societal bonds. The ECO Solidarity Advisory Committee includes: Martina Fineder (Austria); Axel Clissen (Belgium/Flanders); Giovanna Massoni (Belgium/Wallonie-Bruxelles); Danica Kovářová (Czech Republic); Dunja Karabaic (Germany); Jevon Vella (Malta); Ewa Bińczyk (Poland); and Adriana Blidaru (Romania); along with special advisor Tomek Rygalik of Studio Rygalik. For more information, visit wanteddesignnyc.com/eco-solidarity-2021.
The name of this initiative was inspired by the Solidarity social and political movement. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Solidarity formation (Polish: Solidarność), in 1980. It united displaced communities and various disciplines in a common cause and led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, setting the nations on course toward democracy.