These notes are a short comment of the Weaving People and Place Seminar held the 1 July at CSM.

They do not pretend to be the conclusions on the overall project. They simply present some first observations on some common characters of the 13 working groups discussions.

Ezio Manzini

The CoR Project final goal has been to discuss how art and design contribute to weave people and place. That is, to (re)build communities-in-places and, doing so, to move some steps towards of a resilient sustainable society.

The experiment has been based of 13 project teams’ work. These works had different motivation and goals. But they also had a common character: they triggered and supported human encounters, intended as the molecular component of every social forms. The experiment specificity has been to present and discuss the proposed initiatives moving from this specific common angle and raising this question: how to describe the human-to-human and human-to place interactions triggered and/or made possible by these activities? What is the relationship between these interaction and art and design initiative that made them possible?

Here some common (or quasi-common) characters:

  • The encounters proposed are (mainly) the result of light-short interactions. They range from art performance, to pop-up events, to punctual interventions in longer, or even open-ended, design processes.
  • They happen out of the involved actors’ comfort zone. In fact, an encounter with someone who appears to be very diverse requires taking a risk: the risk of opening yourself to an unknown person and, doing so, becoming more vulnerable.
  • They require enabling places. Safe and “de-risked” places where, for the involved actors, it become easier “to take some risks, without risking too much”. These safe places must be, at the same time, open, protected and, if possible, endowed with a kind of un-finished character.
  • They require triggering artefacts. Tangible mediating objects or practical collaborative capable to offer the involved actors an opportunity to start a conversation and to experiment new kinds of interactions.
  • The encounters per se cannot be designed. In turn, enabling places and triggering artefacts must be attentively conceived and developed.

Discussing these characters, it must be also considered that this Seminar discussed the results of experiments done by students and teachers in an art and design school. This implied that the proposed encounters majority had students as one of the main actors.

In turn, these encounters between students and other residents actors are very specific: they are the meeting of students, who, by the nature of their position, are highly transient and the residents who are, in comparison, much more abiding. At the same time, this kind of encounters seems to be highly emblematic: in a fluid world, the encounter between transient and abiding actors is a very diffuse (in a fluid world, for different reasons, a growing number of people is on-the-move. That is, these people are transient in relation with the others).

In conclusion, the new communities-in-place must be able to include, in the variety of interactions they offer, also this kind of encounters. Not only: they should consider them positive energies capable to trigger and support the communing: i.e. the community building processes that represents their normal condition of existence.

Students and teachers, as well as migrants, tourists, and other people-on-the-move, should be included, and play a positive role, in the community-in-place where it happens them to stop for a while.