Error: Would you like to continue? – Gdynia Design Days 2018
My hometown, Gdynia, organises the biggest summer design festival in Poland which I attend almost every year. This time Gdynia Design Days was an exceptional experience. The exhibitions were a very inteligent reflection on our life, modern technology and the way it influences our society. I have to admit in the beginning I felt sad, a bit scary, surprised, amazed and overwhelmed. Technology is omnipresent, mobile phones and computers have become the extension of our body. Did we already get so far? How to find the right balance between analogue and digital reality?
New media and technology are changing the way we communicate, work and spend our free time. We are becoming a wealthy society which is flooded with many options, information and impulses. We are loosening of family and social ties as an expression of being modern and independent person. What about the sense of belonging, emotional and physical closeness with human beings?
The main exhibition compiled works of international designers presenting objects and concepts that can help with problems arising in our daily life. For example the substitute phone or a balance lamp which help those who are addicted to smartphones. Offline chair, BeTime – a mobile meditation studio, Sleep Cafe are modern solutions to get rest, relax and recharge our batteries. The film “Uninvited guests” by Anab Jain & Jan Ardern from Superflux Lab impressed me most. It’s showing a life of 70 year old man after his wife’s death. In the interest of his well being his children installed smart devices to control his health, sleep, diet etc. This short film shows the friction between an elderly man who has always been independent and his smart home which is supposed to make his life easier. Shocking picture. Is he happy now? Is it my future?
An error is associated with a negative, problematic and destructive situation. Ania Łukawska from LUMANN design shop presented an exhibition “Imperfection in objects” that contradicts the usual definition. She assembled beautiful objects that exist thanks to a mistake. In her eyes an imperfection can be a source of beauty. There is also another aspect to consider. When we buy things we want them to be flawless and at the same time we accept to create waste because products with tiny spots are thrown away. We need to be aware and act with respect especially towards handcraft.
Design Lab showed the collaboration between the Experimental Design Studio from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and an innovating company BOWIL Biotech, which manufactures bionanocellulose. It is a non-toxic, natural biomaterial that can be used in medicine, dentistry, cosmetic products, food industry and many other fields. The future is now!
MANUBA is a project that combines design and traditional craftsmanship of the Pomerania. This year they presented objects that will take us outside, help us experience nature and concentrate on touch, smell and texture. Start the trip in offline mode.
My very favourite exhibition was OVERLOADED. The curator, Dorota Stępniak, compiled projects from international artists and designers which created a manifest about contemporary approach to life. Very true, very shocking self reflection.
“We question everything. Creating new scenarios, we choose yet undiscovered paths and we are loosing them. We unlearned to talk, adapt, live in a group and interact. Overload of data and information caused us to stop challenging the credibility of the information source. Our memory and nervous system are not used to those fast and constant changes. We have lost the ability to predict and project the future, we are tangled in the present, that becomes a myth.”
“We are tired, numb and irritated by the multitude of stimuli, as if our internal system just crashed. We can’t predict or plan, we’re lost in surrounding signals and loose a sense of touch. Is overload an actual mistake, or maybe a natural element of the process?”
Strong statements that invite us to join the discussion about our reality, habits, relations, expectations and the future on this planet. Sounds very serious but that’s how Gdynia Design Days was this year. It’s high time to think about: Do we want to continue like this? I’m glad that these exhibitions confronted me with this question.
All photos by Asia K. except from two images by GDD