Project: Open Structures
Organisation: Thomas Lommée (Mapping session at Z33 - house for contemporary art, Hasselt - B).
Moderator: Liesbeth Huybrechts, Thomas Laureyssens, Jon Stam, Priscilla Machils
Thomas Lommée is a designer who looks for sustainability, flexibility and democracy in the design process. He studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, at Les Ateliers in Paris and at the Institute without Bounderies in Toronto. Thomas Loméé has participated in several think-thanks in Europe and overseas and he established "Intrastructures", a pragmatic, utopian design-studio, that emphasizes on the physical, digital and social context of product-design. For more information, see: http://intrastructures.net/).
The introduction to this mapping resembled the introduction to the mapping at FoAM, a few days earlier. For this mapping too, a predecessor of the "multitouch table", chalk paper and the mapping icons were used. After an explanation of the mapping and after setting up the materials, the acThomas Lommée is a designer who looks for sustainability, flexibility and democracy in the design process. He studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, at Les Ateliers in Paris and at the Institute without Bounderies in Toronto. Thomas Loméé has participated in several think-thanks in Europe and overseas and he established "Intrastructures", a pragmatic, utopian design-studio, that emphasizes on the physical, digital and social context of product-design.
The introduction to this mapping resembled the introduction to the mapping at FoAM, a few days earlier. For this mapping too, a predecessor of the ‘multitouch table’, chalk paper and the mapping icons were used. After an explanation of the mapping and after setting up the materials, the actual mapping started. This mapping was one in a series of mapping of media art and design organisations in 2008-2009 (being Constant vzw, FoAM, Frederik De Wilde and Thomas Lomée). These were mainly done by Priscilla Machils, Kim De Bisschop, Jon Stam, Thomas Laureyssens and Liesbeth Huybrechts. Kim was a student, writing her thesis at the University of Brussel (VUB) in collaboration with the Media & Design Academy (association K.U.Leuven).
Usually, a project is divided in several phases, such as: concept development (1), preparation of the project (2), the day itself (3) and the output of the project (4). For each phase, the participants used one sheet of chalk paper. They put the four sheets on top of each other, what allowed them to map and analyze the evolution of the project over time.
The participants started by telling how the project came into being. In 2007, Jan Boelen had a talk with Thomas Lommée. Thomas contacted Jan for advise and feedback on the visions, ideas and concepts he had in mind. Thomas was not yet able to put that what he was doing into words. At that time, he had the idea to connect a webstory to “something open source”. Although it was all very vague, Jan felt it had great potential and decided to work with him at Z33. The participants mark this event as the first proposition of the project, although it not quite fits into the conceptual phase. Next, Jan started to introduce Thomas to various people. Thomas participated in several workshops (for example, together with PHL Architectuur) and he was introduced to Liesbeth Huybrechts (of the Media and Design Academy, KHLIM). This lead to Thomas’ employment both at the PHL as well as at MDA. Thomas also met Claire Warnier, who was so interested in his work that she became coordinator of the project. Z33 helped Thomas to file in his projectdossier and send it to Design Vlaanderen among others. Both Design Vlaanderen and de Vlaamse Gemeenschap provided him with money and means to realise his project.
Thomas’ project did not evolved continuously but its development can be characterized by different phases. Since the project is still in development, they can’t tell too much about the final phases. The participants split the project into the following phases:
- The first phase, or the “courting-phase” as the participants called it, lasted for two months: from augustus to September 2007. This phase entails the converstations Thomas had with Jan and his starting involvement with Z33.
- The second phase started in Oktober 2007 and lasted for half a year. This phase involved seeking support and approval within the already existing networks. The participants call this phase the “legitimizing-phase”.
- The next phase is a phase of exporation and asking questions. This phase lasts for half a year until the beginning of 2008.
- Parallel to this phase, there is a phase in which Thomas is trying to make his questions more concrete. It involves the definition of the project. This phase lasts until March 2008 and results in filing a projectdossier.
- Another phase would concern the partners and the networks. Thomas has presented his project in Turin at the beginning of 2008 and has found some interesting partners for providing feedback on his work. The international network, Thomas has established himself.
- The last phase would concern a concretisation of the project, leading to the built of a website.
During the mapping an icon symbolizing Thomas himself is placed on the map as central figure. The participants also discuss the other key people involved in the project. At Z33, Jan and Claire were the key people who worked on Thomas’ project. Ann Vanderheyden was also involved and arranged the budgets, the structural subsidies, etc. Marlies Ruebens became a key person as soon as Thomas had signed his contract and a settlement between Thomas and Z33 (concering co-production, rights and duties) was made. Later in the project, Jan started to play a smaller role, while Ils Huygens took his place. Finally, the creation of the website required help from VUB, another “key person” on the map. Design Vlaanderen provided money to pay them, which should be indicated by a cash/money-icon on the map (however, this was also missing).
The participants also have a conversation on the tools Thomas has used during the project. Before the project started, Thomas had already done research into modular systems. He brought together the results of this research on a weblog (which was a manner of communicating during the course of the project). Later, its function was ‘replaced’ by the website, which also functioned as a working tool. Thomas also likes to work with drawings, schemes and structures. Since the beginning of the project, he has brought sketches with him of his work. On the map, the participants indicate that Thomas has used tools such as face-to-face communication, e-mail, telephone, meetings, communication over drinks and “table-conversations” (either at Z33, at home or at a bar in Leuven). During the mapping, the participants noticed that a “research-icon” was missing. If it were there, this should be placed next to the icon of Thomas.
A discussion on communication reveals that Thomas is constantly working on directing the project while receving feedback from Z33. The feedback takes place in the form of a constant flow of new ideas and suggestions and of summaries of conversations that have taken place. The communication between them is intense, which is indicated by a thick line on the map. Further, according to the project-coordinator Ils Huygens, there are two compontents in the communication during the project: fysically (1) and virtually (2). Some partners like to communicate fysically, others prefer virtual communication and some like their communication to be somewhere in between. During the mapping, the participants point out “Turin” as the international and “Design Vlaanderen” as the local network. During the project, communication between Thomas and the partners happend face-to-face, via telephone and via e-mail.
Since Thomas’ project was still in development at the time of the mapping, it was interesting te get a better insight of the activities that already had taken place and that yet have to take place. The mapping session with Thomas Lommée is a nice example how MAP-it can be a nice tool for in-depth analysis. It brings details about the collaborative processes, communication processes or (research) methods used in Thomas’ project to the surface. The mapping session made it possible to formulate some issues for Thomas and the other people involved to take into account when continuing the project.