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.

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