Oloop: Initative Rediscussed – Slovenia

waiting room

Sometimes I am struggling with writing an article, mainly when I simply don’t know how to include all I want to mention, as the designers I am writing about have created so many beautiful products and I only have limited space available. Oloop – a group of three Slovenian textile designers & artists (Katja Burger, Tjaša Bavcon, and Jasmina Ferček) is a perfect example of a very productive design group. They work in diverse fields of visual arts and design (e.g. product design, space design, urban installation, textile art), conduct educational activities and have recently begun to connect contemporary design with socially engaged projects.

Revealed hands is one of these inspiring, creative and educational projects where Oloop team shared their knowledge of textile hand-work with a group of immigrant women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo, who now live in the Slovenian town Jesenice. Most of them come from a cultural environment with a very rich textile heritage that is in some ways similar to the Slovenian textile cultural heritage. The older among them have learned different handicraft skills (e.g. embroidery, knitting or crocheting) from their mothers and grandmothers yet some of the young ones have almost lost touch with this type of work. The aim of this project was to improve their employment possibilities and in the same time to create a supporting working environment, as most of these women come from lower social groups. The result of this project is a collection of beautiful hand-made textile products (t-shirts, carpets, slippers, etc.), a mix of tradition & modern way, where products are aesthetically and contextually based on the textile cultural heritages of the participants and enriched with the Slovenian textile tradition.

The next project to present deals “with the problem of waiting”, so let me ask you this: “how do you find a period of time spent waiting for example at Public Administration office?” Most of us would say it is rather boring and totally unnecessary. The waiting room is Oloop’s thoughtful project that enables us to spend time when waiting in a more comfortable way, even calming and relaxing. Sounds impossible but it really isn’t. They have designed a frame for various textile and needle works, which can be simply removed from the wall of a waiting room. The work is very easy and as a result it requires no prior knowledge. When the textile object is returned back on the wall it simply becomes part of space decoration.

The third and last project to bring up is the one I personally like the most. It is called CONNECTION – Carpet in progress. It is a textile installation in progress where Oloop team placed only a frame for creating a carpet, but the process of creating it was left to visitors who wanted to join this process. The line between artists and visitors was blurred. As a result, visitors were not passive observers but active collaborators. The proposed hand technique was easy to learn, no tools were needed only hands. The technique was understandable and accessible for all visitors, regardless of their cultural background, gender, age, occupation, knowledge and skills.  The purpose of the project was to present contemporary textile art and design, which is often ignored in Slovenian cultural environment and to evoke an interest and importance of handiwork. The final work – carpet is now “telling a story” of each individual and the entire group at the same time.

Besides socially engaged and thoughtful projects Oloop team is also developing its own small production. Handmade felted woolen soap and Squareplay are just two examples of their products (both are part of the permanent exhibition at the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana). Check our previous article on Oloop for more detailed description.

Let’s finish with a few guidelines Oloop team members follow when creating new products. Maybe we can learn from them …

Questioning about the meaning and purpose of making things.
Taking time for research.
Working with the respect to everybody and everything.
Following the cycles of nature.

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