Trojan Horse Summer Retreat 2023

August 14–21, 2023
Bengtsår, Finland
Apply by June 15!


In 2023 the Trojan Horse Summer event takes the form of a self sustained summer retreat. We hope to create a space where individuals can unwind, forge meaningful connections, and openly share 👋 their questions and challenges. The retreat allows space to 🦦relax, 🌦spend time to together in an immersive week-long retreat program that embraces experimentation and fosters a deep understanding of care, collectivism, and shared knowledge. Located on the island of Bengtsår, our retreat offers a serene environment that enables participants to dedicate their time and energy to creativity, peer exchange, research projects and practices.

This year we can host up to 10 people. The application period to the summer retreat is open from June 1 to June 15, 2023. We hope to make a diverse group with different ages, genders and backgrounds. We hope you have an idea of something small to share, it can be any form and you can figure out the details in the island. We’ll inform everyone on the week 25 June 19–25. Apply by filling a form here:

We’ve been organizing activities since 2016, including summer schools and gatherings on the island. Trojan Horse warmly invites designers, artists, architects, theorists, curators, and all individuals with a passion for these disciplines to join us.


80€ + self organized return trip to Santala costs + possible camping gear, (let us know if this is a problem, we might be able to help with some things.)


Meals and support at Bengtsår (everything, except camping gear, see more below)

Traveling to Santala_

Approximately 30€ from Helsinki with VR – self booking, the sooner the better. 

Choose a connection that arrives at Santala on Monday at 13:15, (the connection leaves from Helsinki at 11:36). We return with the train that departs from Santala on Sunday at 13:30 (the connection arrives to Helsinki at 15:23).

What we provide_
4 meals a day, sauna, possibility to borrow kayaks and rowing boats, sport opportunities (football/basketball field and balls), fishing sticks, boat trip to another island, possible trip to Hanko (extra costs).

On the island there’s a few designated camping spots where we camp, with a shed covered facility where we have electricity and tables. There’s showers on the Sauna building and the city’s wifi network. You can read more about Bengtsår island and facilities here.

Schedule & Program_

We will make a more detailed program for the week together on the island. The daily schedule will follow a daily rhythm below, but not all sharing moments will be full of program. There will be plenty of time to relax and hang out.

Breakfast_  9:00 – 10:00
Check-in_  10:00 – 10:30 
Possible sharing moment_  10:30–12:00
Lunch_  12:00 – 13:00
Hike & Reading / Digestion_  13:00 – 15:00
Possible sharing moment 2_  15:00 – 17:00
Dinner_  17:00 – 18:00
Possible sharing moment 3_ 18:00 – 19:00
Sauna_  20:00 →


Trojan Horse Summer School 2022 – Reconnection: ​​Collecting, revisiting, gathering and curriculum building through interdisciplinary practices

Trojan Horse Summer School 2022: Reconnection – ​​Collecting, revisiting, gathering and curriculum building through interdisciplinary practices

Trojan Horse Summer School 2022
“Reconnection – ​​Collecting, revisiting, gathering and curriculum building through interdisciplinary practices”
August 8 – 14, 2022
With Kaisa Karvinen, Hanan Mahbouba, Marianna Maruyama, Jaroslav Toussaint, Arlene Tucker, Tommi Vasko, and Andre Vicentini


This year’s summer school builds a platform for reconnection.

There will be brief daily presentations and an exercise/reflection related to the themes we have explored over the years. The idea is to reflect on what has changed, what has happened, and how the research subjects were/weren’t affected during this time.

This year’s summer school is also an opportunity to look beyond the role of design research and artistic practices in the context of current situations. We aim to experiment in autonomous education looking for ways to make meaningful and revolutionary design research and artistic practices in the context of today.


Trojan Horse Summer School 2021 – “Fire of Talk, Action and Care”

Trojan Horse Summer School 2021 cover picture for the website
Trojan Horse Summer School 2022 – “The fire of talk, action and care”

Trojan Horse Summer School 2021
“The fire of talk, action and care”
August 2 – 8, 2021
With Dorothy Zablah, Mercedes Balarezo Fernández, Sara Kaaman, Kaisa Karvinen, Roby Redgrave, Jaroslav Toussaint and Tommi Vasko


The 2021 Trojan Horse summer school gathered around the topics of fire. For us, fire is an energy, an element, a metaphor, a spatial material entity and a historic setting for holding dialogue. 

During the first half of the summer school week Dorothy Zablah and Mercedes Balarezo Fernández hosted workshops about care and timelessness as resistance. These magical explorations included meditation with Ceremonial Cacao, exercises with voice and body connection, and collective non-linear sense making.

In the second half of the week the Trojan Horse board took time to think about how work and organize our collaboration now and in the future. We also hosted the Trojan Horse annual meeting and invited the Trojan Horses of the previous years to return to Bengtsår for the weekend.


“The fire of talk, action and care”

In the time of human beings, fire and its craft have been integral to the livelihood, survival and reproduction of human life, societies, cultures and a shared understanding of the future. Today however, fire contains heavier narratives. From the ongoing burning of fossil-fuels, to seasonal bushfires beyond human control, fire has become a destroyer as much as it is a builder, enabler and sustainer of life. Fire is also a signifier of emotional and physical intensity, a force for the raging social and environmental injustices the world faces. In our processes of rebuilding and relearning, fire can become a means to gather and a reminder of the importance of our relationships and reproductive work.

In the book The End of Man A Feminist Counterapocalypse, writer and researcher Joanna Zylinska asks: 

“[I]f unbridled progress is no longer an option, what kinds of coexistences and collaborations do we want to create in its aftermath?”

In striving for more caring co-existences, the 2021 Trojan Horse summer school was about the fire we can create together in the act (and scenography) of coming together to talk. Here our aim was to use fire as the center for our action, dialogue, democracy and communality.
The summer school saw the need to strengthen architects, artists and designers’ underrepresented but fundamental skills of inter- communication and dialogue, building upon our knowledge and definition of what it means to work creatively now and in the future. In this summer school we kindle the fire of our fields, and work to understand art, architecture and design and their potential to become more effective as intersectional, decolonial and anti-racist practices.

Trojan Horse Summer School 2020 – “Film Making as Spatial Speculation”

Trojan Horse Summer School 2020
○ ☁ ☀ Film Making as Spatial Speculation
with Payal Kapadia and nicole killian ☁ ☀ ○
August 10 – 16, 2020

☁ ☀ ○

In 2020 the theme of the Trojan Horse Summer School was Film Making as Spatial Speculation. The summer school took place both online and physically on Bengtsår island in southern Finland.

We wanted to organize the summer school week as a spatio-temporal medium for developing our research oriented practices and produce an experimental, collaborative short film. Filmmaker and artist Payal Kapadia, movement and performance film/video maker P. Sam Kessie and graphic designer and artist nicole killian offered exercises for collective filmmaking and organised workshops during the summer school week. These workshops dealt with questions related to the island, the space and memory, and our collective practices as artists, architects, and designers.

Due to safety reasons we were able to host ten participants of which five took part to the summer school online via video conferencing platforms and five in physically with us organizers in Bengtsår island.

The collaborative short film will be screened for the first time on October 2, 2020 at Museum of Impossible Forms in Helsinki.

☁ ☀ ○

Meet the mentors:

Payal Kapadia

P. Sam Kessie

nicole killian

☁ ☀ ○

Thank you Finnish Cultural Foundation Uusimaa for supporting Trojan Horse in 2020!

Finnish Cultural Foundation Logo

☁ ☀ ○

Trojan Horse Open Air Residency 2019 – “Cultivating Research Practices”

Trojan Horse Open Air Residency 2019 - Cultivating Research Practices

Trojan Horse Open Air Residency 2019
🌿Cultivating Research Practices
August 12–18, 2019
With Simone Niquille & Leanne Wijnsma.🍀

🌿Open Air Residency was a spatio-temporal medium for developing practices and critical research questions. During a week in an island we concentrated on writing, reading and discussing together with a group of critically oriented architects, artists, designers and scientists.

Simone Niquille and Leanne Wijnsma gave a workshop in which they introduced us to the In a series of activities with the, we explored computation through the practice of fermentation and vice versa: infected data, motherboards vs mother cultures, fermentation as rendering, yeast as data storage. In their workshop we learned to understand that while life depends on the exchange of microbes between organisms, computation has an obsession with hygiene. From cleaning 3D scan data to infected machines, unsolicited transfer of information is to be avoided at all cost. embraced (and embraces) the wilderness of fermentation to prototype new practices of computation.

During the week all the participants had the possibility to share their thoughts, questions and prototypes with the group. We as organizers also facilitated platforms for interactions; improvised stages for performing, tents that turned into screening rooms and a temporary library for readings.

Trojan Horse Summer School 2018 – “The Choreography of Money”

Trojan Horse Summer School 2018
August 13–19, 2018

With Luka Appelberg, Danai Anagnostou, Cemil Çalkıcı, Nathalia Campreguer França, Laura Copsey, Inte Gloerich, Aap Kirsel, Sascha Krischock, Riikka Leinonen, Sofia Luzi, Robynn McPherson, Samuli Saarinen, Mengchi Shi, Elena Sulin, Jaroslav Toussaint and Hein van Duppen.

Bengtsår island, Hanko, Finland
59°53’54.7″N 23°06’30.8″E


In 2018 Trojan Horse Summer School constructed a monastery-like environment on the Island of Bentgsår. The theme of that year was The Choreography of Money.

We wanted to understand and rethink the role of money in the education system. For this reason the summer school that year was free of charge. None of the participants needed money to take part in the summer school. We provided food and all the other necessities and everyone was accommodated in their tents. Each participant also received a grant of 200€ to be used for traveling or other summer school related expenses. In the end we had 16 participants who were recently graduated professionals and master-thesis-workers from various backgrounds, such as design, architecture, economics, social sciences, journalism and art.

We also wanted to be as horizontal as possible. We did not make a separation between mentors (who would normally be paid to give a workshop) and participants (who would normally pay to take part to the workshop). Instead, each participant were exncouraged to share their own interests, research topics and / or organise a short workshop for the others around the topic of money, value and validation.

Cemil’s Diary

Posted in SummerSchool2018-extra | 3,491 Comments

Trojan Horse Summer School 2017 – “CLIMATE CHANGE OF WORK”

Trojan Horse Summer School 2017
August 15–24,
With Brave New Alps, Nick Axel, Johanna Jõekalda and Aapo Korkeaoja.
Bengtsår island, Hanko, Finland
59°53’54.7″N 23°06’30.8″E

The second season of the Trojan Horse summer school begins with a burst of questions which circulate around the topic of work.

What does work mean? Who has the power to decide what is counted as work?

How can we re-organise our day to day life so that it would create new structures of feeling and meaning as well as new structures of work?

How can we overturn the fetish of the individual creator and express the sensations of collective life?

Can work be therapy? What would that even mean, can that be anyhow meaningful to others? Does that matter?

What do I actually do when I do what I do? Is it work? Is my work meaningful just for a few privileged countries or social groups?

So, what does the Climate Change of Work mean?

We recently went to see the Signals from the Periphery graphic design exhibition at the Tallinn Art Hall. In between objects, images, tools and music, the exhibition also displayed alternative design spaces, -events and -projects from around the world. What these initiatives had in common was that they were initiated out of frustration that there was no place or platform to do the kind of work these designers found meaningful and fulfilling. This is also one of the reasons why we started the Trojan Horse summer school.

How is it possible that so many people feel that there is so much design work that feels more and less unnecessary or unfulfilling, and so little that would take us towards the kinds of worlds we would like to live in?

How is it possible that work occupies more and more of our time, even when we live in increasingly automated societies, where many human necessities could be taken care of with very little actual human labour?

Why do we risk our mental and physical health working on our laptops, staring into screens inside cubicles, when we would have all the technology to use the space and our bodies much more fluidly?

How is it possible that we value efficiency and modesty and rationality so much, when there has never been so much surplus energy (and time) available to us to waste?

How does this affect the kind of knowledge and the kind of work we produce?

What are we actually doing?

And what does this have to do with climate change?

Climate is the history of weather. Where weather is something we can observe and feel here and now, climate is something we cannot sense directly. “Climate is the average state of the atmosphere over periods of years, decades, centuries, and more.” Climate becomes real as graphs and excel sheets. “Everything we know about the world’s climate—past, present, and future—we know through models.” In order to model climate we need global data, and to have global data we need different measurement devices, standardized procedures, satellites orbiting our planet and many other inhuman things, which sense our world very differently from how we humans do, based on our partial and limited local perspectives.

And climate, of course, changes all the time. The biosphere of our planet Earth has experienced many dramatic changes in its four billion years of history. What we call climate change today is something different. Something that will make our own existence threatened. Something which is already causing mass extinction of plants and animals, soil depletion, mass migration and wars over natural resources. That’s why what we now call climate change is something inherently political, it’s something related to the work we have done, and work we think we should be doing. If our collective work (utilising the energy released from burning fossil-fuels) has changed our planet’s climate once, it might make sense to rethink what we call work in order to transform both our world and ourselves.

What does it even mean to work? Is work anything that brings you money? Is it what you do during your days? Or, is work something that in some sense builds a common good? Something that someone forces you to do? Something you just have to do? Something that creates change? Something that creates new knowledge? A quest to find a world worth working towards?

In her book The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt writes about three different activities: labour, work and action, as equally necessary to a complete human life. “Labor is human activity directed at meeting biological (and perhaps other) necessities for self-preservation and the reproduction of the species. Because these needs cannot be satisfied once and for all, labor never really reaches an end. Its fruits do not last long; they are quickly consumed, and more must always be produced.” … “Work, unlike labor, has a clearly defined beginning and end. It leaves behind a durable object, such as a tool, rather than an object for consumption. These durable objects become part of the world we live in. Work involves an element of violation or violence in which the worker interrupts nature in order to obtain and shape raw materials. For example, a tree is cut down to obtain wood, or the earth is mined to obtain metals.” … “Action is the means by which we distinguish ourselves from others as unique and unexchangeable beings. With humans, unlike with other beings, there is not just a generic question of what we are, but of who each is individually. Action and speech are always between humans and directed toward them, and it generates human relationships.” For Arendt knowledge is acquired not simply by thinking, but by making; working, labouring and acting with the products of previous human work.

How do we deal with the violence related to our work? How do we housewife our climate? How do the tools we use change our bodies? How can we work out what the infrastructure around us wants? What should we be doing with our designer skills, designer knowledge and design tools?

Trojan Horse Summer School 2016

Trojan Horse Summer School 2016
August 17–27,
With Katharina Moebus, Adrià Garcia Mateu, Markus Miessen and PWR-Studio.
Bengtsår island, Hanko, Finland
59°53’54.7″N 23°06’30.8″E

For the first Trojan Horse summer school we invited mentors who in one way or another were active in redefining what it means to design today. Mentors were more on the early stage of their careers so that they would be able to share the students’ own experience of the world. Adrià who works as service designer, examines the designers possibilities to promote sustainable futures. PWR-Studio, Rasmus Svensson and Hanna Nilsson, are graphic designers with deep technological understanding. Artist and designer Katharina Moebus works on commons and co-design.

We visited different design schools in Finland already during the winter and announced the summer school to as many networks as possible. We trusted that eventually the persons who are interested would take part. We did not want to ask the students for formal application, it would have been too difficult to evaluate students coming from such a diverse backgrounds. In the end we had fifteen students. There were Bachelor’s and Master’s degree students from architecture, fashion design, interior and furniture design, graphic and service design from Aalto University, Lahti Institute of Design, University of Lapland and the Tallinn Academy of Fine Arts.

We went through a broad range of possible places where summer school could take place. We wanted to find a place with a physical and mental distance from the everyday reality creating possibilities for critical examination of our own needs and habits. Basic everyday things like food, electricity, shelter and sleeping become urgent. In the end we found out that Bengtsår island did satisfy many of our needs. The services which were available in the island by the City of Helsinki, especially catering and camping equipment, helped a lot with many everyday practicalities. We also had to pay only for the food there which made our costs minimal.

“Our senses were open in the middle ofthe nature. I had no previous experience of being part of a community like this. The island forced everyone to be vigilant and transparent. The environment, which made us do things like swimming, going to sauna and drifting in nature, encouraged informal discussions and created a common vocabulary,“ one participant told after the summer school.

We followed a daily program around strict eating hours, ruled by the canteen on the island. Otherwise the schedule was redesigned by mentors according to their workshopping needs. On Monday, we had a day off, and on Tuesday we had secretly plotted an opportunity to students to implement “a revolution”.

08:00 Meditation or exercise 09:00 Breakfast
10:00 PROGRAM 1
12:30 Lunch
14:30 PROGRAM 2
17:00 Dinner
18:00 Siesta & reading circle
19:00 PROGRAM 3
21:00 Tea, bonfire, sauna

We wanted to create a social space which would not maintain the existing structures and relations we have in our daily life. We used a random algorithm to design the layout of the tent site. We strived deliberately to evade situations where students would define themselves or others based on the schools they are studying or fields they are working in. All of us lived in the same tent village and took care of practical tasks like preparing breakfast, heating the sauna and taking supplies from place to place.

We maintained a desire that at a certain point students
would self organize a revolution. We hoped that students
would like to form their own routines, venues and decide
the order of their own tents.

“We actually prototyped a small community the size oftwenty persons, and looked at how it could influence personal choices, habits and routines. Between lectures and exercises we had time for various informal discussions and experimentation”, said another participant.

In the last weekend of the summer school we organized a
Trojan Horse Festival, where we invited teachers,
colleagues, friends, and everybody who had been
interested in the summer school before. During the
festival we shared thoughts that evoked during the
previous week of workshopping and daily life in the
island. There was a movie screening, informal lecture,
performances, forest disco, amazing starry sky, and a
discussion in the sauna.

After the fist summer school we dreamed Trojan Horse becoming a semi-permanent framework, with an annual summer school and other events so that the actual shape of the Trojan Horse could transform, remain experimental and in some way a little bit strange. We wanted to organize summer schools in various locations with new mentors and students, and also show that exhibitions, reading groups and parties for example could be done differently.

We wanted to try out following things in the near future after the first summer school:

– link and make visible various reading circles which
already exist in Helsinki and elsewhere in Finland.
– produce a live action role play on a cruise between
Helsinki and Stockholm where fictional designers would –
practice debating and dissertation skills.

– organize something like studio visits in which designers could talk about their projects with people from different backgrounds.

– make exhibitions that are not exhibitions.

– do unexpected brief interventions in the urban space.

We hoped that in the future we could reach a variety of different audiences and groups such as (design) teachers and graduates from different fields and ages. We wanted to collaborate with institutions so that they could inform students about our activities and we could be aware of their needs. We were also interested in organizing independent interventions next to bigger events or happenings.

In addition, we yearned for friends or institutions, which could, if necessary, lend space and/ or resources such as classrooms, copy machines, FabLab, computer classes, PA, projectors, storage space, electricity or tents. And of course we thought it would be wonderful to get some authoritative recommendations for our grant applications.

Trojan Horse -summer school 2016 was kindly supported by Grafia.