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Neighborhood connections like a root system. Kori Project

Dobrawa Bies
28 of July '21

Inspired by nature, trees, especially their root system, and local stories from Poznan's Debiec Daria Bovtoniuk, the School of Form graduate created the Kori project. Its goal is to improve the activities of the Neighborhood House, a local cultural center, by making appropriate changes to its space.

The Neighborhood House in question is located in Poznan's Dębiec neighborhood. The project to rearrange its interior was carried out as a thesis under the direction of Marta Rowińska and Ewa Klekot.

Przestrzeń Domu

Kori's project has transformed the interiors of the Neighborhood House

© Daria Bovtoniuk

An asset of this place, as well as a design challenge, is the variety of events taking place there. The Neighborhood House is run with the idea that every resident, regardless of age and gender, should feel at home here and always be able to find something for themselves, the author adds.

The author began the design process with field research, which allowed her to get to know both the interior space of the Neighborhood House itself and the people who run and visit the place. Daria used such research methods as unengaged observation, participatory observation and interviews. The information collected served as a starting point for further project activities. The immediate design process began with an analysis of the interior of the Neighborhood House. A decision was made to maximize the use of existing furnishings and redesign the space in a more functional and aesthetically pleasing way, as well as to unify it with a single theme.

Stefy Domu
Sąsiedzkiego po zmianach

The areas of the Neighborhood House after the changes were made

© Daria Bovtoniuk

trees and local stories

The inspiration for finding a theme came from local neighborhood stories told by one of the Neighborhood House animators Ms. Magda. It turned out that many streets in Debiec have tree names: Chestnut, Beech, Walnut, Maple, etc. This is a strongly distinctive feature of the neighborhood, and a project based on it would certainly evoke positive feelings, says the designer.

Wizualizacja projektu Kori

The project was inspired by local stories and the book "The Secret Life of Trees"

© Daria Bovtoniuk

In developing the concept, the author was helped by Peter Wohlleben's book "The Secret Life of Trees," which not only tells directly about the life of trees, but also compares them to human communities. With the help of a system of roots and fungi, wrapping them in a dense network, trees are able to communicate, share nutrients and even keep their weaker companions alive. Helping each other and supporting each other in times of need, communicating messages and warning of danger, and jointly creating friendly conditions and climates for all - these are qualities and activities that are shared by both trees and human communities, specifically, in the case of this project, the local community of Debiec. The information included in this book, along with Ms. Magda's story, inspired Daria to create furnishings for the Neighborhood House - objects related to the theme of trees and roots, and an interior maintained in a similar character.

Projekt Kori
w Poznaniu

The interiors are related to trees and their roots, and all are kept in a consistent color scheme

© Daria Bovtoniuk

pillows like roots

Together with the presenters, we decided that the most practical and fitting solution would be soft objects for sitting and better development of the play and relaxation area. And so large pillows were created, shaped like roots. The shapes can be arranged in many ways, connecting them to each other. The pillows symbolize roots and neighborhood ties, which can expand, while the connectors symbolize mushrooms, which entwine the roots and help them connect into a single network, Daria says.

We wnętrzach jest
dużo zieleni

The author also introduced a lot of plants into the space

© Daria Bovtoniuk

Meanwhile, the introduction of vivid greenery, the calming of the color scheme of the furnishings, the appropriate location of the zones and the adornment of the walls with graphics that refer to the designed furnishings created a Neighborhood House space united by a single theme.

Projekt Kori,
siedziska Detal siedzisk

Root-like pillows can be combined with each other

© Daria Bovtoniuk

Dobrawa Bies: What were your inspirations and what influenced the idea of rearranging the interior of the community center in Poznan?

Daria Bovtoniuk: The idea for this project, which is entirely the result of research and collaboration, came about with the local communities in mind. It aims to show that designing on a very local level is no less important than creating universal designs that are applicable everywhere. This approach takes into account the cultural peculiarities of a community and allows us to better and more accurately respond to its needs. I thought that working with a place, conducting cultural activities, would be a good example of this kind of design and would affect more people than with an individual project.

Dobrawa: An important part of the design process was working with people associated with the center. How did it go?

Daria: This is one of my favorite aspects of the project, especially since I was lucky to come across great, cooperative people. I was very pleasantly surprised that this community treated me from the very beginning as if I had always been a part of it. The animators and visitors were eager to answer my questions, discuss various threads about the concept and implementation, and bring their suggestions. I conducted several interviews in the homes of these people. Ms. Magda, who teaches at the Neighborhood House and has lived in Debbiec all her life, told me a local story that became the foundation of the project concept. Ula and Maria - the girls who founded the Neighborhood House- contributed very important executive amendments and helped me get funding.

Daria Bovtoniuk
i jej siedziska  Projekt Kori, grafika

The author with the seats and one of the graphics

© Daria Bovtoniuk

Dobrawa: What does the project consist of? Please tell us about the work, the materials used and the implementation.

Daria: The project consists of soft furnishings, posters, graphics on the walls and the work that was put directly into the rearrangement of the interior. The large pillows allude in shape to the roots of trees. Due to their form and proportions, these objects can be easily combined with each other and arranged in different configurations as needed. The decision fell on the cushions due to the fact that many of the activities at the Neighborhood House take place on the floor and there was no soft furniture to sit on. Ula and Maria's suggestion was to sew the pillows and covers for them separately so they could be easily washed. The covers are sewn from upholstery fabric in three earthy colors, while the cushions are made from cotton fabric and stuffed with ragged foam. The shape of the pillows was also used for the graphics and posters on the walls, which add to the greenery of the interior and illustrate selected descriptions from the book "The Secret Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben. Since the implementation process took place during the quarantine and prohibition of large public gatherings, I had to limit myself with my own strength and the help of close friends who helped with sewing, transportation, wall painting and arrangement.

 Projekt Kori,

The interior of the Neighborhood House got a new look

© Daria Bovtoniuk

Dobrawa: What was the most difficult part of this project, and what are you most satisfied with?

Daria: A big challenge was the pandemic and the limitations associated with it, as my project is about cooperation and neighborhood integration, which at a certain point became impossible. I couldn't, for example, test prototypes with Neighborhood House guests or attend events and see what kind of excitement the changes inside the place evoke. On the other hand, I am satisfied with the cooperation with the people associated with the Neighborhood House and its results. After all, the results would have looked very different if I had designed completely on my own, without taking into account the comments of this community. It is thanks to our cooperation that the result is what it is, and for me this is the most important thing.

Dobrawa: How do you create designs so as not to exclude anyone? Do you think good design contributes to changing the lives of its recipients?

Daria: I don't want to say that good design changes lives in a global sense. I think it can shape our everyday life. Good design makes us feel better on a daily basis by using this or that object, space, service, etc. In my opinion, there is no single recipe for creating good designs, nor is it possible to create something that will suit absolutely everyone. That's why I don't like established design schemes that only use certain methods. I think that every project is unique, and so must be the designer's approach. I decided that in my project, working with the local is the key to success, while with another project it might be a no-brainer.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.


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