ECO Solidarity is an initiative for designers to convene and act in solidarity on issues relating to sustainability, ecology, circular economy, in response to climate emergency, humanitarian and public health crises, through Conscious Design approach- design with empathy, sustainable production process and materials.
ECO Solidarity was presented at WantedDesign Manhattan 2022 exhibition at Javits Center in New York, May 15-17, 2022, as part of NYCxDESIGN (New York Design Festival). The most notable achievement was ICFF Editors’ Award for the Best Booth awarded to ECO Solidarity out of 500+ booths at Wanted Design + ICFF combined and this fact had generated more press responses.
There was the 3 full-days of the ECO Solidarity exhibit (May 15-17) at Javits and two panel discussions engaging all designers in two groups and the US experts, held at Javits on May 15 and 16, as well as the Design School Workshop, and participation of Anna Horvath (Malta) in its jury, at Wanted Design in Industry City. DSW was lead by Appalachian State University on May 10-14 with 6 design schools participation from USA, Mexico, El Salvador. Herrmann & Coufal (Czech Republic) participated in a workshop on May 14 at Undercurrent in Brooklyn.
The role of the Advisory Committee of local US based experts was essential to expanding the dialogue and connecting EU designers to local industry reps. WantedDesign assigned EU designers to US experts based on their area of expertise. The exchanges had started early in March on zoom and over phone, and continued with meetings, studio visits, and discussions during the designers stay in NY, and are still ongoing. This had been very effective as since early March the US experts were coaching and mentoring the EU designers working on networking, developing connections, and arranging meetings with local industry professionals. This formed strong committed long lasting relationships, bigger engagement, attendance at the Javits booth exhibit, and created future opportunities for EU designers.
The project hosted a successful Press Breakfast event - a press preview with ECO Solidarity 2022 participants, which was also a kickoff of the project, held on 12 May, at the Goethe-Institut, as well as a designers’ visit at the Healthy Material Lab at Parsons School of Design, and at the 7-acre Rooftop Farm and Greenhouse at Javits.
The design agency Herrmann&Coufal (Czechia) were in contact with one of the interior design studio which wants to incorporate H&C designs into their projects. Also, H&C are discussing a possible workshop with Parsons students planned for next year. They also started to develop 3D printed biodegradable parts for their projects with Vlasta Kubušová (Slovakia).
Polish designer, Paulina Grabowska, who was invited to a class critique at the Healthy Material Lab at Parsons at the time of her visit, is leading communication with the school about returning and conducting a lecture and a workshop on use of spirulina and science in design for students. She is also in conversation with Javits about leading a project on compostable containers and wraps for their events. She also worked with youth when she contributed to the Goethe language class.
German designer Anastasiya Koshcheeva is currently in contact with a NY-based agency about upcoming workshops and future cooperation.
From press representatives who visited the booth the project had Architects Newspaper, Dwell Magazine, Azure, Wall Street Journal, FDH Media Enterprises LLC, Fifty Grande, Fortune, Hello/Hola, Elle and more.
Challenges and Learnings
All EUNIC and local partners were engaged with programming, major budget decisions, and tasks pertaining designers, like coordinating shipment of design works.
Some assigned partners roles changed to better manage the budget and production, which centered around 3 major areas corresponding to the Subcommittees: Treasury/Budget, Production, PR and Commsunications.
EU Delegation to the UN was much more involved in the program. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the UN contributed opening remarks at the Press Breakfast on 12 May.
Judged by the exquisite quality of the programming, the strong connection with many local partners, the great number of members involved and the powerful impact it generated, ECO Solidarity must be considered as one of EUNIC New York’s most successful projects of the past years. It attests to the cluster’s curatorial flair, organizational maturity, and commitment to the most pressing issues of today, relevant in Europe as they are in the United States.Dorian Branea, Vice President EUNIC New York and Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute NY
Our participation in ECO Solidarity clearly welcomes the necessity to keep on exploring our role as designers, to find a new balance in an economic driven environment and to keep on creating opportunities across sector and industries.Designer Sep Verboom, Livable
We are committed to continue to grow the ECO Solidarity initiative in the months and years to come. It's a unique project for WantedDesign, and I believe for everyone part of it, and it's very important and rare in our industry to appear as an European initiative. It definitely amplifies the message and it will find an echo in the US.Odile Hainaut & Claire Pijoulat, WantedDesign, Directors and co-founders