In 2020, Rosa Rogina took up the first research residency in the history of VIENNA DESIGN WEEK. This residency for curators from the United Kingdom was the subject of a call that formed part of the Design Connections Programme of the British Council. It is curators who enable a design event to ask questions and address subjects that go far beyond the reproduction of commercial content. From a wealth of submissions, Rosa Rogina, Programme Leader of the London Festival of Architecture, was selected to experience and research the Vienna design festival. The jury was made up of Parvinder Marwaha (Design Programme Manager, British Council), Jane Withers (Founder and Curator, Jane Withers Studio), Peter Umgeher (Designer and Curator, Vandasye), and Lilli Hollein (Director and Curator, VIENNA DESIGN WEEK). Due to the COVID-19 situation, the curator couldn’t be physically present in Vienna and carried out her work from London and, principally, via digital channels. However, despite this distance, this view from the outside brought impressive results! Rogina investigated how design festivals can act as agents of positive change in a constantly changing world. To do so, she delved deep into the programs of previous years and shed light on the festival back to its very beginnings. During the ten days of the 2020 festival she joined virtual walks, followed the activities on the festival app and social media, and offered a first insight into her research work in a live talk (CLICK). In addition to this, she spoke with the team and various players from the history of the festival. Rogina was principally interested in asking how we can make design festivals more democratic and accessible. In her own words:
“I am delighted to be working with the team at VIENNA DESIGN WEEK and the British Council on a research project exploring the role of festivals in the city and ways of developing innovative and more democratic methods of research, curation, and presentation. In a time of three unprecedented global emergencies – one of COVID-19, one of climate change, and another one of protests against racial discrimination – we as curators and festival producers need to step up and creatively and collectively engage with the new social and urban reality.”
The output of the research residency is a glossary of key terms in the form of a series of videos. “The Festival City” shows 20 international design experts from the fields of architecture, product design, education, art, literature, and activism, who, in short clips – one per producer –, present specific terms that they illustrate on the basis of their own design festival practice. According to Rogina, the glossary can act as a new vocabulary or guidebook for festivals in cities right around the globe.
Both the talk by Rosa Rogina and the series “The Festival City” can be seen on the YouTube channel of VIENNA DESIGN WEEK CLICK