Some highlights from the first edition of the Festival Eastern European Design
Over three days in early September, Warsaw became an attractive hub for an ambitious number of representatives from organizations across Europe dedicated to the topic of design (festivals, platforms, workshops, urban interventions, museums, galleries, and media). The Eastern European Design Festival (2-4 September 2023) brought together 58 participants from Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, France, the Netherlands, Croatia, Montenegro, and the Czech Republic.
Similar events serve as a serious catalyst for the exchange of ideas, contacts, and content between organizations, both now and in the future. They also validate the efforts of the creative and cultural sector, emphasizing its importance and value to society. The event also emphasized resilience, determination, and love for the profession as the driving forces for all those gathered at the conference as we continue moving forward. And yes, the recognition and connection with like-minded individuals were the strongest aspects of the festival.
The program's structure was intensive and diverse. Each of the three program days was hosted at different culturally significant locations in the city, namely Nowy Teatr, Teatr Komuna Warszawa, and Jablkowski Brothers House, enriching the overall experience and group interaction.
The first day of the conference was dedicated to a series of lectures, providing an introduction to visual culture and the current state of design. Komplekt contributed an in-depth perspective on the subject. Among the guest speakers, you are encouraged to explore the work of the Ukrainian organization Pictoric, which supports the visual environment in Ukraine through various activities focused on illustration and traveling exhibitions. Also from Ukraine, Oleksander Tregub of Projector Creative & Tech Online Institute in Kyiv engaged the audience with his comprehensive educational platform entirely dedicated to creative industries, featuring 500+ lecturers, some of whom teach from the frontline.
Two lectures provided insights into the rich legacy of bold experiments and innovative approaches in Croatia in the 1960s and 1970s (by Marko Golub, Croatian Designers Association) and in the Czech Republic (by Professor Philip Blazek from UMPRUM along with a documentary series titled "Identita"). We also heard about an interesting perspective on typography in Turkey from Onur Yazicigil, a lecturer, researcher, and organizer at ISType. The day concluded in the magnificent Bar Studio at the foot of the Stalinist-style Palace of Culture and Science from the 1950s.
On the second day, participants engaged through speed dating sessions, and the afternoon featured lectures on specific cases related to event organization, moderated by the founder of the media platform Neon Moire, Thomas Dahm. These topics included how to make events and organizations more environmentally friendly through small and logical steps. The day also explored the experiences of a deaf specialist as a guest lecturer at an event and the importance of providing sign language interpreters to create an inclusive and caring environment. Lars Harsmen of Slanted magazine discussed his recent journey in Armenia through visual accents. Dennis Elbers introduced the audience to the activities of Graphic Matters, which evolved from a one-time event into a continuous program focused on posters and graphic design, while considering creative and empathic approaches to applying for programs.
The third day featured brief presentations from various parts of Europe with candid and engaging experiences in content creation, audience engagement, quality maintenance, and a holistic perspective on moving forward. Impressive work and perspectives from designers, event organizers, media supporters, and more were shared by INTL festival and its organizers Warriors Studio, Pictoplasma (who recently held their first event in Varna), agency MILK, Eastern Design Conference, Hungarian Book Design Conference, a finely curated festival in Vilnius, Graphic Days in Turin, and Andrey Grozu in Bucharest, who works wonders for the design scene there and supports several fantastic formats for posters and graphic design through the Local Design Circle association.
The event concluded with a visit to the Academy of Fine Arts and a curatorial tour of the 28th International Poster Biennale Warsaw exhibition led by Mateusz Machalski (a lecturer at the Melba 2022 symposium).
We extend our gratitude to the organizer, Rene Wawrzkiewicz (Polish Graphic Design), for inviting us to be part of the event's program.
* All images for this publication by © Patryk Wiśniewski @panpatryk