WROCŁAW: Children are our future! KIDS DESIGN SPACE

Can children design? Of course they can! The OPEN MIND Foundation helps both younger and older kids design the world. From last year’s June to December, children, accompanied by professional designers, took part in a series of design workshops KIDS DESIGN SPACE. Results in the form of professionally executed designs will be presented in May, during the 3rd edition of Wroclove Design festival.

Exclusively for PURO, Aleksandra Krupa*, the initiator of KIDS DESIGN SPACE, tells Justyna Strociak about designing the future and creative surprises.


PURO: Could you tell us something more about the idea behind KIDS DESIGN SPACE?

Aleksandra Krupa: KIDS DESIGN SPACE consists of 4 stages: Experience, Creation, Execution, Exhibition. We wanted to show children the nature of the creative process – something designers go through every day. During the first stage, children met with local designers, ceramists, illustrators, craftspeople and cultural managers, visited their studios, galleries and universities in which they work. We also went to museums. In total, we visited 12 places in Wroclaw the activity of which centers on art and culture. Thanks to our committed partners, children had an opportunity to, through play, acquaint themselves with basic concepts related to the creative industry. They learned about the history of design and experienced the living matter: glass, porcelain, wood, fabric, paper or metal. Also, they got to know different technologies and participated in workshops, which prepared them for meetings with designers.

In the second stage – CREATION – children went through the entire creative process, from just a concept to a finished product. The educational value of this stage lay not only in the fact that children realized the meaning of design and its omnipresence in our environment, but also in practical activities aimed at liberating children’s creativity. Under the supervision of 14 esteemed and experienced (groups of) professionals, children created functional objects and public space projects. During workshops, designers and children became equal partners who engaged in discussions, created things and inspired one another. Children’s works were starting points for designers but, most of all, they served as inspirations for further, individual work. That’s how we move to the third stage – EXECUTION – in which designers focused on creating projects while children, together with the curator of an exhibition – searched for ideas on how to arrange an exposition. They also made a video promoting the enterprise and learned how to create a visual identity of a project.

The blending of professionals’ experience and children’s unbounded imagination resulted in very interesting effects presented in December during the exhibition summarizing the project. Together with the curator of the exhibition, Izabela Bołoz, we did our best to show the work with children, but what we presented were mostly concepts. Now, in May, during the 3rd edition of Wroclove Design festival we are going to present all projects. It will certainly be an unusual and unforgettable experience for all of us once we see kids’ projects as professionally executed prototypes ready to be implemented!



Where did the idea to organize so many meetings with designers come from? What about the time span of the project?

As I mentioned earlier, the premise of the project was to acquaint children with the entire creative process connected with design. Design, however, is a pretty broad concept encompassing numerous areas. We know from experience that children, as well as adults, take interest in the most diverse things – after all, not every architect will be a good ceramist ;) We wanted to invite people of various professions to give children an opportunity to choose what suits them best. Architecture and ceramics were undoubtedly the most popular choices. Design was somewhere in the shadow, parents often had to be told what this obscure term stands for. The several months time span was caused by organizational issues. Each workshop had to be carefully planned and it was simply up to hosts when a particular workshop would take place. Each of the guests invited is a busy professional, so we had to fit our schedule to them. 


Where does the design dimension of Kids Design Space come from? Is it your passion, profession, Foundation profile, or is it perhaps the thought that our kids’ lives lack this kind of creative activities?

I would say it’s both. As a foundation we organize a lot of events related to design, not only for children. We’ve organized Wroclove Design festival, Fresh Design festival or the Laboratory of Design and Art. Children are our future, that’s why we want to search for inspirations together. We want to teach them what it means for the world to be well-designed and how it impacts our everyday lives. We want to make them realize how much we can change if we intervene wisely in our reality. I am certain what we do will bear fruit in the future! Education systems of our times lack this kind of initiatives, which are excluded from core curricula followed by schools…



Did designers get on well with the children?

Most of designers are great teachers with experience in working with kids. Some of them, however, organized workshops for young participants for the first time, but where equally successful. Nevertheless, I think that the participation in the project was quite a challenge for  everyone, the challenge we gladly accepted. It was a great pleasure to look at how committed and passionate designers were when sharing their knowledge with children. Children could feel it, that’s why they quickly entered discussions and exchanged their ideas.

How did children do with making decisions on their own? I guess they saw it as something new, didn’t they?

To tell you the truth, the less kids knew about a given topic, the more fun we had! They were really enthusiastic about going to the Academy of Fine Arts, including the Faculty of Ceramics and Glass, as well as the Studio of Intaglio and Relief Printing. Children had a chance to see different tools and processes unknown to them. Getting to know the arcana of how a glass is made or how a book comes to life by means of traditional craft methods is fascinating even for an adult, so it was far more fascinating for children! I also have to mention a workshop with Oskar Zięta during which kids could familiarize themselves with the 3+ technology.



What makes KDS stand out above other creative workshops organized for kids?

I’m sure it’s the educational value of our meetings. Each meeting is hosted by a top-notch specialist and the program is really innovative. Children go to top-quality, recommendable workshops and meetings. We’re proud that so many amazing individuals agreed to work with us. What’s more, children are taught according to the partnership principles, workshop hosts are there to help, discover and develop kids’ talents and ideas. Their task is to advise children on how to transform a good idea into a unique object, not to give them ready-made solutions.

What makes you the proudest? What surprised you? Is there anything you could have done differently?

We tried to prepare each project in such a way as to minimize the possibility of surprises. I’m really glad that one of the designs, KRYJÓWKA [a hideout], was implemented already in 2015. It is located in BAR BARBARA – the information center of the European Capital of Culture. We plan to implement other projects as well: Srebrny Lis mugs (in the making) will be sold during Wroclove Design festival. I also hope we will manage to prepare Niezbędny Bohater [Indispensable Hero] – a truly unique project. Some designers work on their projects directly with other companies, so I hope for a larger-scale cooperation in the future. I would love to have one of our bus stops located in a city (not necessarily Wroclaw) – they were created during workshops organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture at Wroclaw University of Technology. Hopefully it will be possible in 2016 ☺



I would like to congratulate you on attracting so many co-organizers and participants!

Yes, it makes me really happy! Our budget wasn’t large and if it hadn’t been for our partners’ and designers’ commitment, we wouldn’t have been able to organize the project in the form I’ve been talking to you about. The cooperation was really successful and made us all very proud. Thanks to the fact that events for children were admission free, everyone could enjoy them without any regard for financial issues. Workshops were popular among children and parents alike.

Will there be another edition?

Yes! We’ve been supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Right now we’re in progress of preparing the program of the project that will start, as it was during the first edition, in the middle of the year.


Text: Justyna Strociak
Photos: Kids Design Space


*Aleksandra Krupa - manager and creator of the 2nd edition of KIDS DESIGN SPACE organized in collaboration with Wroclaw-based Foundation OPEN MIND. She works at Center for Professional Development Krzywy Komin where she is responsible for the creation and supervision of educational programs for children and youth propagating culture and development through design and art. She is also an organizer of workshops, lectures, exhibitions and debates, to which she invites both kids and adults. In her pastime she runs a blog. The mother of two: Marianka and Adaś.

OPEN MIND Foundation - A non-profit organization set up by a group of enthusiasts of design, craftsmanship, art and socio-cultural education. Their activities are pro-social, ecological, culturally active, international and intergenerational. The foundation encourages the development of creative, knowledge-based society consciously drawing on available innovations and the shared European cultural-historical heritage. Its offer includes interdisciplinary workshops, exhibitions, meetings, public debates, lectures, performances and trips.









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