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Award category
Regaining a sense of belonging
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
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Basketclub is an initiative that unites makers from around the globe around the theme of basketry. With a monthly brief that is communicated through an emoji, designers and artists are invited to make a basket based on a theme, creating an experimental series of baskets that can be traced back to the local context and handwriting of the maker. All outcomes are published on the dedicated @basketclub instagram which became an insightful archive of possibilities with this millennia old craft.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly urban
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

In the spring of 2020, Basketclub was founded by Jamie Wolfond and myself. The pandemic had just changed the state of the world and we had met on Instagram, connected by a mutual, crafty focus point as designers: we were both interested in finding modern applications for the traditional craft of basketry. In our autonomous projects, we had both been playing with unconventional materials and shapes. We decided to provide a fresh focus much needed by many artists and designers. By choosing an online format, we found a way to transform the sense of isolation into a productive communal spirit. An Instagram-based initiative, our platform quickly grew into an online community for crafts enthusiasts alike. The principle was simple: the account was a publishing point for curated basketry input from a selected group of artists and designers. These individuals and collectives made and photographed baskets in response to a monthly changing theme. The themes were presented as emojis, underlining the playful character of the initiative. In its approach, Basketclub crossed multiple borders. Firstly national borders, as participants throughout Europe (and even a few other countries) were able to collaborate, exchange knowledge and viewpoints. Secondly, Basketclub provided a regular “open brief”, so every once in a while, anyone could submit a basket. Thus, the option to use our platform did not remain closed off from the general public. Thirdly, we crossed the border of digital-physical exhibition spaces. We participated in several real-life exhibitions and collaborated with the brands DEDON, Karimoku and Maharam along the way. Simultaneously, we broadened the scope of our digital representation by launching our own website, which functions as a catalogue of modern basketry, 3D braiding and weaving projects.


Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Connecting physical/digital
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Basketclub is an exemplary project when it comes to sustainable interaction and exhibiting techniques for artists and designers. For most of our participants, using local materials and a developing a sustainable workflow have long been a main focus in their practice. However, the international flights, transports and exhibition properties common in our working field are not in line with these objectives. Our project finds ways to replace the physical interaction and proposes a digital or hybrid stage for a variety of basketry projects. As much as the exhibited results are exemplary in their use of local and sustainable materials, the exhibition methods we employed can exemplify the development of modern design showcases for a new generation of designers and artists.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Our project stands out when it comes to rich aesthetic experience. Here, our objective is to allow for and curate an inspirational exchange of modern crafts — our participating designers and artists develop their personal interpretations of ancient weaving and braiding techniques. The results, despite being displayed online through photographs, transmit a highly sensory experience. The aesthetics of this experience is directly linked to ancient and culturally informed knowledge about basketry. It is clear how these techniques have been transformed into personal, modern responses in each individual project. Part of the aesthetic quality is the quick character of our initiative; the briefs lasted for one month and were pre-conceived to provoke energetic, original and unique visual responses. This working method, in its productivity and non-bureaucratic workflow, can be exemplary for design processes and collectives.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

In this project, a particularly inclusive standing has been taken regarding public participation — taking part in our open briefs as a non-professional crafts enthusiast was very low-threshold, as was becoming a part of our regular, curated postings as a designer or artist. This is true even for young talents who just graduated, on the one condition that the methods and viewpoints displayed in their work were in line with our experimental approach to crafts. These young designers in particular took benefit from our platform, as the costs of participating in our briefs — an input of some time, effort and a minimum of material costs every month— were relatively low in comparison to the advantages Basketclub provides: an international platform, interesting cooperations all across Europe and potential partnerships with experienced co-designers. The public attention generated both on the website and on Instagram followed a democratic principle. As for the latter: to a certain extent, spectators decided which design is the biggest success by pressing “like” and were thus given a voice. Similar working models might propose fruitful alternatives to well-known design competitions, where in many cases a lot of money and effort is required in order to participate, which lowers the chance of younger talents successfully participating.

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

Basketclub has managed to unite the three elements described more in detail above: inclusion, aesthetics and sustainability. The “Basketclub approach" distinguishes itself by its hybrid, pragmatic and non-conforming character. As designers, we are good at grasping what the world needs now and finding ways to provide these things. In our case, due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, we could see that a lot of our fellow creatives felt excluded and cut off from public life, as all of a sudden live meetings, workshops and exhibitions could not take place any longer. We then reacted with an initiative that has a very high practicability, yet possesses at the same time a big potential for taking further steps into a more professional, longer lasting presentation. We took these steps by pursuing live exhibitions and a proper website before finalising the project now the pandamics seems te be ending and need to connect fades away. Designers are adapting to the new reality, and most of them are currently back on track with their work again, for me a reason to end this phase of the project.

This step-by-step method has proven to be of high value when projects need to be propelled quickly, for instance in order to suit a particular emergency situation, and may then be developed more in detail as a part of a larger plan.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

As a result of events taking place in the last two years, regaining a sense of belonging has been a true challenge for all of us, including designers and artists. We are and have been in urgent need of smart, digital initiatives that provide meeting points — that is, not just logistic ones but thematic, inspirational spaces that spark hope, playfulness and creativity. It is precisely this aim that we set for ourselves at the start of Basketclub. When it comes to crafts, a physical practice is extremely important; through the mutual practice, by watching other practitioners work and seeing the results, an exchange of modern crafts can take place. Makers inspire each other to try out a particular technique with a new materials and highly interesting cross-overs happen. In order to replace this dynamic or at least mimic it in the best possible way adapting to the current situation, Basketclub provided a platform for a niche community in arts and design: Basketeers. Luckily, the craft of weaving and braiding flexible strands into baskets is a photogenic one and the resulting baskets can quite easily be grasped by other creatives seeing the imagery. As it turns out, times continue to be tough in Europe and regaining a sense of belonging will remain an important goal for creatives. We are hopeful projects like Basketclub will continue to provide comfort, inspirational moments and an open, honest frame for interaction.

Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

Thanks to our start as an Instagram-based platform, provoking the involvement of civil society has been particularly easy. Next to the passive role of citizens and amateur designers, the growing group of Basketry enthusiasts was regularly given the chance to participate in open briefs. The open brief worked just like regular briefs; it was announced at the start of a month by us posting an emoji displaying a specific theme. The difference, however, is that open briefs allowed anyone to come up with a basket, post it and tag us. We then selected the results we found most interesting regarding basketry techniques and the individual, original thematic solution, and posted these on our platform. To our surprise, the open briefs were amongst the most successful ones. The rich variety of crafty reactions to our themes once again proved that great ideas are not reserved to professional designers and artists — they can be found anywhere and by anyone who has the courage and passion to follow them. Bringing the fresh energy and viewpoints of civil society has been very resourceful as opposed to remaining in an often toxic closed community consisting of the same group of creatives, working on the same set of themes from the same set of perspectives.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

Before the outburst of the global pandemic, designers would travel often to visit or participate in exhibitions worldwide. Although this practice had already begun to receive critical comments from environmentally aware citizens, it continued to prevail — physical objects, we assumed, need a physical presentation. The pandemic put every part of life as we knew it into question, resulting in a massive cancellation of cultural events. Within this context, Basketclub proposed a new way to reunite designers — though this platform, work produced locally using mainly local and readily available resources, could receive the international attention it deserved and its makers could profit from the exchange with likeminded creatives all across Europe. As a side effect, a more durable and future-oriented approach towards international communication has taken shape.

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

Instagram-accounts or hashtags devoted to a certain creative field or even a craft are nothing new. The ways in which Basketclub distinguished itself from these practices are the repetitively scheduled briefs and the curated group of participants, centered around the niche theme of basketry — of braiding and weaving three-dimensional shapes by hand out of flexible strands. This seemingly narrow focus allows for a surprise effect: that such a big group of creatives took such pleasure in continuing to work on this theme, and actually developed interesting and visually convincing results each and every month. On top of that, the hybrid nature of the project comes to mind; Basketclub combined digital, physical and merged approaches, collaborating with several partners such as Dedon and Crafts Council NL along the way.

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

The “Basketclub principle” has a high degree of transferability to other thematic fields. Whenever a democratic, low maintenance platform is required in order to map the creative potential of a certain theme or technique, or to develop a variety of quick, hands-on and intuitive creative responses to a specific question, this formula could be useful.

The methodology will be described here: The first phase relies on the pre-existing infrastructure of Instagram, where the project initiator(s) create an account and propose a framework by inventing certain boundaries and a set of rules interested participants have to commit to. A condition for the effectiveness of this method is the range of digital contact so far — is it a lot more plausible for the invented account and community to gain public attention when its initiators have been actively involved in publishing thematically relevant content on their own profile before. Once a communal goal has been set, a group of active participants has emerged, content is steadily growing (for instance on a monthly basis) and public attention has been acquired, the initiative may start to think about next, independent steps to enforce its community. These may be very personal ones depending on the initiative’s theme, the envisioned fields of operation and the outcomes of the first phase.

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