Title: MEDS Spetses 2019: MEMNISO
Work: Workshop organization, project management, funding and sponshorships
Location: Spetses island, Greece
Date: 2019
Links:      MEDS Spetses website
             MEDS Spetses on Archdaily
Collaborators: Angeliki Asimakopoulou, Myrto Andronidi, Kostas Gournas, Chara Kaika, Alexandros Kontis, Christos Malesovas, Ioulia Metzidaki, Agni Pettemeridi, Stefania Sachinoglou, Ioanna Maria Vemmou

Details: MEDS (Meetings of Design Students) workshop is an international workshop that takes place every summer in a different country, focusing on various issues, themes, topics and settings that help designers expand their expertise. MEDS is organized every year by a different organizing team that works voluntarily. It is both practical and educational as it focuses not only on creative theoretical designs, but actually compels participants to execute these designs during the 2-week span of the workshop.

In its 10th edition, MEDS Workshop took place in the summer of 2019 in Greece, on Spetses Island, under the theme “MEMNISO”; which in ancient Greek means “to remember”. The workshop brought traditional professions together with contemporary crafts and design by exploring new capabilities and learning techniques from local expert craftsmen. During the workshop, tutors and participants had the chance not only to learn from local artisans but also to exchange knowledge and share skills with them.

From the 26th of July to the 12th of August, more than 200 people worked on realizing 14 interdisciplinary projects.

As part of the greek organizing team, composed of 13 students and young professionals of architecture and design, I worked on planning and step-by-step realizing the workshop for two years. This process involved both academic research and contact with locals, organizing, publishing and running a competition to select the projects, developing the selected projects with the tutors, and providing the resources required for realization, including the workspaces, technical equipment, tools and materials. We also oraganized and provided food and accommodation for all 200 tutors, participants and volunteers for a span of 20 days, and activities such as lectures, excursions and an exhition.

Personally, I actively participated in all steps of the organizing process as a project manager, including project selection, coordination of the team responsible for constructing the projects, gathering funding and sponshorships and managing tools and materials.

About the workshop theme:

Spetses is a greek island that combines historical richness, tradition and natural beauty. Through time, the island became extremely touristic and the consequences of tourism have affected its identity. In order to serve the enormous numbers of tourists the island hosts each year, locals had to leave their traditional professions and are occupied with new jobs that refer to the island’s new touristic identity. Therefore, traditional professions are currently dying.

In an age of globalization and mass production, we want to accept and leverage the vast knowledge of the past. Not only we have to learn from it, but we have to enrich it to be able to hand it down to future generations. A global community’s input could enhance this process even more, mixing elements from different cultures to create a colourful mosaic composition of the past and the present. That was primary goal of MEDS Spetses 2019, adapting the traditional techniques in today’s way of thinking and inspiring young designers to come up with new ideas. This process, the modernization of our heritage, the instinct that makes us preserve our cultural products, this is Memniso.

We looked  at Spetses through a telescope.
And then through a microscope.
The long view, through the telescope, showed us how chance can shape the world. The close view, through the microscope, showed us how we can shape ourselves.

In our case, the telescope and the microscope will be tradition. Tradition belongs partly to the past, as it consists of facts, stories, buildings that have been created throughout history, and partly to the present because it is part of our DNA; we have grown up with it, we have experienced it, and we can see we’re losing it.

As tradition has this dual nature, it gives us an incredible opportunity: to look back and remember, but also to look inside of us and see how it has shaped us. Thus, we can opt for the better way to incorporate its elements to our life now- adays; its importance has always been there and it’s time for us to recognise it.

Researching traditional crafts in Spetses we conducted interviews with people that still practice them, did academic research and organized two lecture nights during the span of the workshop with speakers from all over the world.

About the projects:

Emerging Ruins assimilated the spirit of Spetses shipbuilding tradition and reinterprets the possibilities of its techniques, putting them to a radically different use. The curved shapes of wooden boat skeletons emerge from the water like ruins, changing their floating function, inverting their form, to form a skyline of emerged “ruins” that represent not only an homage to the shipbuilding tradition, but also a frame that catches the beauty of the maritime landscape in one single and condensed view. 

Triton – No.dirt is a public installation for remembrance. The project’s main goals are both to highlight the importance of the shipbuilding craftsmanship and its current hindrances and shed light upon MEDS workshop and the importance of recycling and up-cycling. Moreover, it is a warning for the future of the traditional boats, posing to everyone the following question: Where you would like to see them? In the sea or abandoned on the ground?

Under my umbrella celebrated the traditional craft of weaving combined with different textile techniques. The project is a result
of exploring, learning and observing Greek culture. The framework for the umbrellas comes from upcycled materials along with the fabrics used for weaving

Pebble Rebel project aimed to the revival of the traditional craft of pebble decoration. Pebble decorations spread around the island form a central part in the identity of Spetses island, as they affect the textures, the soundscape and the rhythm of the visitors’ walking. The final result is the realization of a pebble decoration created by 10 designers from 8 different countries. 

BEEhaviour pavilion aims to promote apiarian culture through the organization of spatial elements combined with materials and artwork, in order to deliver a full experience, making the visitor move in a way which is similar to the waggle dance of the bees. 

Built-in Carpet redefines the loom, a tool that produces textiles using threads in two directions; the vertical direction is stable, and the horizontal one goes up and down. It creates a system that allows us to produce surfaces by weaving two different materials; the wooden planks and the fabric stripes. The architectural interpretation of the loom provides us with a game with the space. A person, in order to get familiarized with a space, has to fulfill three basic needs; a place to sit, a place to lay, a place to eat. These basic functions, interwoven with a different degree of socialization-isolation, were the case study.

Breakwater installation is a kind of barrier to the sea. Located on the beach, the proposed structure is intended for visitors to lie down and enjoy the Greek seacoast. It is a place for socialization and integration of all people – inhabitants and visitors of the island. 

Dark Beacon Pavilion’s external form resembles a simplified straight- edged outline of a boat, vertically extruded. Internally, there are 2 pools of water connected by a ladder. The distance between these pools is almost the maximum estimated sea-level rise by the year 2100. Upon entering, visitors step onto a ramp with an incline designed to cause a brief moment of balance adjustment, just like the effect of stepping from land onto a boat. A ladder invites people to the first floor, where they are offered a seat with a view of the Greek mainland and islands. Visitors sit there wondering what might happen to the landscape outside should significant sea-level rise occur.

Space and Food: Making Togetherness engaged with the design and materialization of installations which derive from the imagination. Learning from the art of cooking and seeing food as material, we heighten our senses to be more aware of our surroundings and attentive to the environment. Exploring, discussing and with a playful attitude, we listen to the whispers of the secret garden of the Monastery and by paying close attention, we find clues to what the secret garden is and the stories it wants to narrate. The final installations comprise the collection of these imaginations of the Monastery’s secret garden.

The sensory garden project aimed to reactivate the abandoned garden of St. Nicolas. Monastery and turn it into a meeting point for the community. The landscape intervention consists of a path that awakens the senses and forms different types of togetherness. Inspired by the traditional technique of stone building and combine it with a contemporary design approach, in order to create some seating elements. Those are created reusing old stones, already existing at the garden. The concept of reusing materials can be also found in the small marble installations that were made out of the old bell tower’s marble. 

Letters of Spetses focused on greek letters, calligraphy and type design. During the two weeks in Spetses, the participants explored all the letters on signs of the island and the techniques used in their creation, found inspiration and used it in their own lettering design. Through the concept development they chose words that derived from their impressions of the island.

Spetses final_final V2 tried to feel and understand Spetses in order to create city identity. The first part of it was exploring the island, gathering inspiration and talking to locals. The project created icons which will represent something that is specific for the island, as honeycombs, carriages, sea, fish, pinecones, envisioning a clear visual identity which locals will see as part of them and tourists can easily understand.

Running Stories exchanged stories from the MEDS collection for new stories gathered on the street along the coastline of Spetses. The circular motion of the wheels represents the stories looping which are mixed together, the mirror cylinder shows your own reflection. The seasonal touristic peak results in temporary solutions for food/water supply, infrastructure, garbage, management, contributing to the seasonal lifestyle of the inhabitants.

Mnemosyne team converted a bathroom and a chemistry lab into two fully functioning photography dark rooms. Over the course of two weeks they shot and developed 125 rolls of black and white film on 20 cameras of different models and ages, gathered together from all over the world. After going through the paper development process, the pictures were exhibited together with all the other MEDS Spetses projects, and the whole island came to take a look.


Some months later, as a follow-up to MEDS workshop, the exhibition MEMNISO (MEDS Spetses 2019) took place in ROMANTSO cultural centre in Athens, in January 2020. Curated by MEDS gallery 2020 team, the exhibition demonstrated a series of photographs and installations that referred to the architectural, design and photographic projects realized in 2019 during MEDS workshop, on the greek island of Spetses.

The exhibition was attended by more than 300 people, and was published on greek design media.

︎ Marianna Tsapepa, 2020