During Autumn 2013, I was part of the group of people involved in the project Atelier Europa, as the in-house designer, technician and jolly.
Atelier Europa was a space, hosted in Casa della Pesa—one of the oldest buildings of the city in the very centre of Bozen—conceived to work as information agency and managing team for the application of the jointed provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto pursued as European Capital of Culture for year 2019.
Bozen, capital city of South Tyrol, was one of the three poles, the other two being Triest and Venice.
The project revolved around a series of weekly activities in order to build a portfolio of sort, to show the engagement of the city within the field of culture, its liveliness and active participation in it and, especially, its capacity to be a concrete place to build other activities of these kind.
The activities ranged from weekly matinée on Saturday morning (1) and talk on specific topics (2), to one-off events (3) or on-going research in the field (4).
Kultursamstage–Sabati Culturali, or Cultural Saturdays, was a series of weekly appointments every Saturday morning, in which a small association or group or collective of people was invited to come and present their practice.
For this, we designed a triangular totem made out of wood, on which fixing a long banner that served to announce the weekly event (and other ephemerals, of course). The general design feeling for this project was one of making room for others. Each time, indeed, the invited guest was free to re-arrange the space of the Atelier as they needed, in order to best fit the project they wanted to show. The very central position of the building inside the city was a key factor for the hosted associations, in order to gain new visibility and being more approachable by new people.
Deep in Europe was a cycle of events with people expert on the subject of Europe and on how to financially start new projects in the cultural sector. Being it in a talk-like format, besides designing a series of leaflets and posters, I was also in charge of documenting the event with a video of the talk and some photographs of the event. All of this, then, was uploaded on the official website in order to form the main archive of all the activities undertaken.
Nuove geografie europee–neue europäische Geografie was a collaboration between Atelier Europa and the Faculty of Design of the Free University of Bozen. The project was part of the Euregio program, an initiative to show commonalities and differences and, in general, to trace a common path, between the regions of Trentino Alto Adige, South Tyrol and Tyrol (wiki here). The idea of borders, especially dashed and very curvy and sometimes twisted ones, was what I used for the communication of the final one-month long exhibition.
- Osservatorio–beobachtungsstelle was the more journalistic-y project of all, and it consisted in a reportage from the field of the different cities which took part in the competition. For this, every two weeks an article was published (in Italian and German), both on the website and on thin narrow paper at the Atelier. The approach I took for the design was almost “scientific”, as someone part of the group suggested me 1. To accomodate the articles we designated a specific wall in the building, on which hanging each new piece on a hook, in order to freely let people take them.
My tasks involved the production of ephemeralities (leaflets, posters) and documentation (photographs, videos) for all the above, plus a weekly newsletter and the updates on the website.
For most of the events I was also in charge of the technical side of them (sound, lights, etc.) and I usually helped with the design of the exhibition (from cleaning the space to the spatial arrangement of the selected elements).
Since the very nature of the hub, most of these interdependent projects were designed in the first few weeks when everything began. I spent a couple of weekends working in an hectic manner to get everything done, designing each project as best as I could, in order to reach a point in which they could stand on their own without the need of the others, but being aware that they were part of a general direction.
There’s the myth of “independence & cohesion” with this kind of work, which translates in letting each project breath freely without injuring the overall plan. Luckily, the visual identity of the space was already designed 2 by another local studio, so there were a couple of common elements to wrap every new project up.
One of them, the most important, was the chosen typeface for the Atelier’s identity: Atlas Grotesk.
What happened with it was a process of iteration as a long exploration.
For every bits of design that I was producing I tried to stretch the typeface and to put it in odd spots, while at the same time studying it as much as possible. After that my slight aversion to grotesk faces vanished.
As the feeling of having an underlining language for the Atelier slowly grew, the same happened with my presence there: you are part of the machine 3, and you get out of your comfort zone to help that machine keeps going.
The request was to be very neutral, an oxymoron per se, but what came out was just very straight and to the point—especially thanks to the grotesk typeface in use for the project identity. ↩
Machine in the way Deleuze & Guattari would mean it: “A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks.”—from the book Anti-Oedipus.
In this case, for me it meant being part of the flow and help the machine as much as possible to keep going, filling any void and black hole. ↩