One of the unchangeable human features is the need to subject the world to our demands and change it. Technologies are developing and artificial intelligences are being produced. The world changes as a result of our actions, but it also transforms against our will. Development of the industry and economy ruins the environment, causes social changes, reformulates the way we live and our living conditions. What is more, there are also natural disasters, whose results we can only try to prevent. During merely few generations, the world that we had known for ages has changed a lot, and it will not stop changing. The society and economy are transforming, and we are the perpetrators and victims of this process. The needs are changing and so is the awareness. However, what remains stable regardless of other things is the need to react to changes on every level, both mental, which is to solve problems, and emotional – to get accustomed to these new feelings.
During the 5th Łódź Design Festival, we dedicate two exhibitions of the Main Programme to changes: REDIRECTION, prepared by Centrum Architektury from Warsaw, and NEOFARM, whose curators are Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto, the Israel-Japanese couple that work in Eindhoven in Holland. Many other festival events will refer to this unchangeable and continuous phenomenon.
The REDIRECTION exhibition will show us the changes in architecture – how this stiff, monumental field of design, meant to last as long as possible, faces grass-roots initiatives? To what extent is it flexible and ready to cope with overpopulation, resource crisis or environment devastation? To what extent is architecture prone to experiments? Are the changes caused by architects, or are they a bottom-up phenomenon to which the architects must react? A building, an urban complex, when it is handed over to the users, starts to live its own life, more than any other work. The REDIRECTION exhibition will not provide ready recipes and answers, but it will show the directions in which to look for them. It will show how to look and read in order to understand the nature of unavoidable changes with which architecture must and will have to cope.
The NEOFARM exhibition refers to changes in the social structure. In spite of industrialization and migration of a considerable part of the society to cities, we still long for rural life, craft made objects, natural materials, etc. However, even if we go to the countryside, it is hard to find them. Nowadays, the level and quality of life in the countryside do not differ from the life in the city, or at least they do not have to be different. Villages are mechanized. The land is cultivated, and animals are ‘bred’ by computers, which are operated by people, of course. Yet, computers, the Internet or access to knowledge and technology – undoubtedly valuable and needed – have deprived the humankind of other values connected with rural life. Unification and industrial repeatability are an unwanted side effect of the development. It is a change, new and irreversible. However, designers fill this gap. Instead of suggesting artificially ‘natural’ objects, they play with tradition and in this way they satisfy our emotional needs on the one hand and make light-hearted and rather warm fun of them on the other hand. They balance on the verge of kitsch, joke, pastiche, but their suggestions are quite serious. They encourage us to establish a new connection with nature and simple life, and establish new conditions, favourable for both sides.
Change is a continuous process. But to notice it, you have to stop running. To understand it, you have to stop for a longer time. The Main Programme of this year’s Łódź Design Festival invites us to slow down, think, and ask again – where do we come from, who are we, where do we go?
Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka – Artistic Director of Łódź Design Festival 2011