26.10.2015 - Dries Tack

Design as the driver of a better world

Working together towards a positive and sustainable environment... That is the credo behind RECIPROCITY design Liège. The second edition of the triennial runs from the 1st of October to the 1st of November 2015 with the same main theme: social innovation. It has chosen to put the spotlight on new ways of producing, cooking, throwing away and sharing food. It also covers the themes of graphic design and architecture. The lowdown on the philosophy underpinning the event and the programme with Giovanna Massoni, its artistic director.

What lies at the core of RECIPROCITY design Liege?

For me the word RECIPROCITY has two important elements: reciprocity and life in the city. Our starting point was the philosophy of the Bauhaus, the movement that pioneered the idea of a democratic and social design. We have lost sight of this principle somewhat but it is currently making a comeback. It invites us to consider design as being in direct contact with society and at the service of the citizens.

Does this trigger a complete change in the attitude towards design?

Design should be considered more as a cultural and social project and less as a simple sphere of commercial activity. This also prompts us to reconsider the role of the designer. The designer is invited to accompany the residents of a district and further education students with the development of ideas, services and joint projects. The key question is how can we improve our lives? The process is then developed through various phases that are characteristic of design: analysis, observation, meetings with users and creation of a model, a prototype. These are then tried out and adjusted. The co-creation process is paramount. This is far removed from the marketing rule where something is produced and then tested. And it is important for us to bring the students out of the academic framework and to help them have their finger on the pulse of what is going on in society.

With this in mind, many workshops are organised during RECIPROCITY

These are the highlights and everyone is invited to participate. Co-creation is a kind of therapy that forces us to forget our ego and to find, almost physically, our place in the community. We have to merge and reason with one head. Even the designer is no longer the leader but is there to moderate and translate a collective thought.

What are the other key events of this triennial?

There will be two days of discussions and screenings around documentary films reflecting social innovation projects. "The taste of change" is an exhibition devoted to food. Here we are taking up an international issue that is being addressed at the Universal Exhibition in Milan, for example. The aim is to highlight innovations in eating habits, through the result of a call for projects launched among international schools and designers. "Welcome to__" focuses on social innovation projects in the Saint Gilles district in Liège and in Seraing. "Deconstruction" sheds light on the reuse of materials. The relevance for graphic design and architecture will be shown through different exhibitions. These sectors are also working to improve quality of life and must be in on the action. On the 20th of October, an international conference will examine the theme of sustainable development in the fields of architecture, design for social and public innovation, culture and the economy. This programme reflects our desire to present design as a way of improving the way we live, within the framework of sustainable development, and holistically, by mixing culture, economy, research and teaching.

RECIPROCITY is being rolled out all around the city of Liege but it also involves its close neighbours

We work as a network with schools located in Germany and the Netherlands. We have also included in our programme exhibitions and events held in other towns in Belgium (Genk and Mons) and in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregio (Maastricht, Aachen and Kerkrade).

Are all the events and activities free?

It is a choice that is important to us. We owe this to our public. The idea of free entry is often criticised in the cultural sector. I believe “free” translates as the “freedom” to draw a broader audience and whet its curiosity.

More information?


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