cairn - easa tourist 2019

le workshop ‘cairn’ a consisté à s’aventurer dans les alpes suisses, pour y collecter différents matériaux et apprendre à les transformer pour en créer de nouveaux objets.
une rencontre intime où la créativité de chacun permet d’ériger une mémoire partagée du lieu.

le thème de l’événement dans lequel s’inscrivait ce workshop était le touriste.
le touriste est mobile, le touriste arpente, mais qu’est-ce que le touriste prend à part des photos, qu’est-ce qu’il apporte aux terres qu’il découvre ?

Nous avons tenté d’offrir une méthode pour le touriste curieux, en usant de la créativité de chacun pour interpréter le territoire par ses ressources locales.

+ organisation et encadrement du workshop, dans le cadre d'easa tourist
+ final report en pdf [ici]

+ d'autres infos sur la page de mon co-tuteur denis [ cairn - a concern workshop ]
+ en savoir plus sur l'évènement easa 'tourist'

// villars-sur-ollon (ch), juillet-aout 2019
// co-tuteurs: denis plancque, émilie moreau
// participants: erona bexheti (xk), teodor david (ro), sara dobrijevic (hr), felix eibl (a), sofia elldin (n), susannah farrugia (mt), julian gatt (mt), emily karras (e), aneta lazarova (bg), dasha lobodenko (blr), thomas misfud (mt), elena paleckyte (lt), nikiforos papotsopoulos (gr), albin pettersson brathe (n), harry price (wal), georgy schvedenko (r), michael stivala (mt), barbora vyborova (cz), edward zammit (mt), gaja zgank (si)

// architecture, design, communauté, workshop
// l’easa est une plateforme d’échange culturel à but pédagogique qui rassemble des étudiants et des jeunes professionels de toute l’europe.

raw materials

Cairn, a review of the territory based on its substance : the matter forming it, the forces sculpting it, and the beings making it alive.
A workshop concerned about hiking around the site, collecting materials to put it up respectfully. An intimate encounter where everyone unfolds to create a shared memory of the place.

The tourist is mobile, the tourist strides, but what does the tourist take if not a picture, what does the tourist bring to the lands he discovers ?

Cairn workshop offers a method for the tourist who feels like a builder, for the curious tourist, the respectful tourist, the nice tourist. It offers an interpretation of the territory through the local resources, and depends on inventiveness and collective energy, diverting the standard, answering to specific challenges of other workshops, sites and their occupants.


Cairn somehow responds to mass tourism, offering a customised tourism.
Its practices stand out of the standardization of space use embodied by furniture and decorative elements uniformity, which has become ordinary and tasteless. The workshop was willing to put up a method that would break free from the universal flattening. Say “good bye” to postcardish framed landscapes, here we are into offscreen scenes, into what is less seen but remains as substantial part of the surrounding landscape.

During our trip, our trail and our hannibal day, as dedicated tourists, we tried to consider territory beyond what we see. Considering the possibilities of doing with what we find, we were driven into some kind of consumption of the place, a consumption that is not willing to abuse it, but to transcend it.

In that way, by the wise collection of raw materials, such as branches, rocks, earth, and their transformation into local material, we approached the territory by use and construction.

Our position was thus nomadic. Our method consisted in being on site, doing on the site, and doing with the site. Creating souvenirs, not ‘made in china’, but ‘made on the spot’. Vernacular objects produced with materials and technics directly coming from the site, upgraded with the everyone’s know-how. Those artifacts would be as much added specificities, that once combined, will form a whole, a cairn.

Easa is an assembly, a set of origins, languages and thoughts in one place. Specificities added to the place singularities. Together we were foreigner in a common territory, together we collected extracts of local resources, together we tried to deal with it.

Ignoring the standard, cairn then becomes the reincarnation of a succession of differed encounters expressed as an esthetic shape in the landscape.

la vue d'en haut les outils
harry in the tree

"A Cairn is a manmade structure, commonly in the form of a pile of rocks situated at the summit or focus point of a trail. A cairn acts as a symbol to other travelers that the path has been travelled before and can be seen as a checkpoint or place to rest.

Cairn workshop explored the concept of a Cairn by encouraging experimentation with different natural materials, in the stunning environment of the swiss alps, to create manmade structures. Some structures were subtly placed, others boldly casting a contrast to the landscape. Some structures were functional and provided a resting spot for travelers. Others were purely aesthetic, offering intrigue to passers by.

High up in the Swiss alps, the local population is sparse, with small collections of authentic wooden chalets and lots of grazing cattle. The majority of people seen enjoying the hiking trails are tourists, who have taken a train or ski lift from lower down the mountain. A Cairn can be seen as a message, or form of communication, between tourists enjoying the same landscape. A Cairn can say from a distance ‘come and explore over here’ or ‘this is a great opportunity to stop and take in your surroundings’. They can be seen to act as a natural guide post for tourists- one that is less sterile and imposing that a brightly coloured plastic sign.

The workshop itself involved a lot of hiking and exploring. There were no predetermined outcomes in terms of what was to be crafted. This encouraged creativity, and allowed participants to tailor ideas around the natural geometry of branches, rocks and other foraged materials. This sense of freedom and oneness with nature was what made Cairn such an amazing workshop."


the raft

"Cairn is a workshop based on hiking, retrieving found materials and manipulating them to create a shared memory of the place.
I chose this workshop out of curiosity in learning about materials, tools and crafting, and wanting to explore the landscape of the Swiss alps.
The workshop took the theme of tourist in the sense of nomad, travelling from place to place, gathering and learning with each experience, finding home at each step of the journey.
Hiking, exploring, observing, discussing, collecting, experimenting, learning, building. The workshop inspired me to work with my hands more, taught me how to use certain tools and work with certain materials. It also taught me to consider and interact with the landscape in new ways.
People from other workshops would often join us in our endeavours and help us in building things, especially larger constructions such as the raft we built to cross the lake."

-How who would you go forward with those topics?
"Apart from making an effort to maintain my newfound stamina when hiking, the workshop also inspired me to work with my hands more, and to see the potential in found material… collecting to experiment with rather than collecting to keep as found."

-What would you change in Cairn?
"I would have liked to interact with local craftsmen in Villars, see them work and learn from them. I appreciated the high level of freedom the workshop allowed but perhaps some more structure would have helped us to be more productive in terms of material outcomes."

-What will you remember from it?
"The people and the adventures. Thank you for such a memorable experience."


also the raft
building the raft using the raft
the craft board

Cairn could be the experience of a site, a sculpture made from its collected materials, a token of shared memories, a mindset.
I liked the concept of working with existing materials found in nature and exploring different techniques with these. Something that also drew me to Cairn was the poetic side of the workshop, with its core of wandering in nature and creating landmarks - just that idea on its own can open up a new layer of wakefulness and contemplation of the surrounding environment.

I would say that the workshop very much tied into the theme of Tourist in the way it invited its participants to deeply take in the surroundings of Villars. Seeking curious sites and experiencing them not only from your own but others perspective as you tried to figure out what could ~be~ right there. Of course, there is also a problematic aspect where you have to be very fine tuned in your approach in order not to exploit the site as you are exercising your artistic freedom along the paths of others. But this was a balance that I experienced that the workshop managed to withhold. In the end creating more of a co-experience of the mountains than a product. An appreciated contrast to our otherwise qu1ite product and produce driven field. It would have been interesting if this topic of landmarks/creations/exploitation could have been reflected on within the workshop: What is ours to harvest? What is sacred/is anything sacred? Experience and/or products? And so on.

What did you do?
Hiking around the landscape of Villars, connecting with the environment and seeking/noting available resources. Building some basic stools to get familiar with the site equipment. Exploring different wood joint techniques without using nails or glue, to be able to build things of nature in nature and leave no traces behind. I built a frame of a bench together with Albin, another participant of the workshop, made from scavenged wood testing some of the joint techniques.

What have you learnt?
For me, this type of free and flexible workshops are very much about reprogramming your idea of learning. To realise that you as a student can be in charge of your own learning, and allowing your curiosity to guide you.
In that sense, this workshop was very successful, since the tutors did not put themselves in a «tutor» role but rather as co-exploring students of Cairn:ing.

The workshop also unlocked another layer of space and materials - opening my eyes for the materials and opportunities that can be found in nature. Projects are just one step away. And also the pleasure of wandering together. It was a beautiful way of getting to know each other and the landscape.

How who would you go forward with those topics?
I think the french bid for EASA 2021 Lost and Find was an interesting way of going forward with these topics, it felt very connected somehow. For me individually I will continue with these topics as a mindset.
What would you change in Cairn?
I would not really change anything, but I have some personal reflections when it comes to freedom and structure and I am not sure under what question that would belong nor what the point is, hehe.

The ‘learn as you do, follow your curiosity’ type of learning is something I personally appreciated in the workshop. But the free explorative type of learning might not feel natural to everyone. This since it can be a great mental and motivational challenge coming from an education with such a strict and clear structure to something wild and free. Maybe it could have been helpful for participants that are new to this experience to have a few “structural nodes” in the workshop to ease into that type of mindset. Like a technique or two that was researched a bit priorly and then taught among the group, a study visit, etc. Something to bring a tiny bit of routine into the workshop, to start off from and then slowly let go. In my experience that could give participants who are used to more guidance a bit more confidence.
But on the other hand, maybe you have to go cold turkey and have some participants question their workshop in order to question their own desire for traditional structures and proofs of productivity.
To give some feedback: I experienced some quite rapid change of directions in the beginning of the workshop as the tutors and participants were trying to figure things out, like deciding to form groups to do something but then suddenly regroup again based on something else. It was a bit confusing. But I feel like we found a good dynamic as time went on and I can see that it is hard to allow participants to be free in their explorations but still somewhat guide the direction.

What will you remember from it?
I remember the endless hikes, that always turned out a little bit longer than expected. And I did not mind.
I remember how we collected materials from nature and created from it - and also how nature through heavy rain and storms kept taking it back. A poetic Cairn tabula rasa, or two.
I remember one of our first hikes were we, cairn participants from various countries, started comparing the names and tales of different plants in our countries as we walked along the landscape. This type of honest meetings between people of different nationalities and backgrounds feels rare somehow.


also the raft the craft board
coiffe emily coiffe gaia

Cairn is a connection between humans and nature, it is an experiment, a long trail where with every step comes more attention to details in our surroundings. It is a reshape of our approach towards materials, shapes, towards ourselves.

Why have you chosen this workshop?
I chose it because of my love for crafting. Also because of the space of freedom where we were able to experiment and create from nature and in nature.
How is it related to the theme and context?
It explored the subject of tourism through hiking/trekking and collecting remains of nature found in the woods. We were the tourists which engaged with the local materials, not just passed by them, we created different objects from them, and therefore truly experienced the place.
What did you do?
We hiked, swam in the lake, floated on a raft, created, used wood-working techniques, laughed, talked, connected with others and the nature, and many more things. I learned how to work with woodworking and processing tools. I learned how to be more attentive to details and observe my surroundings and their potential much better. Most importantly I learned a lot from you friends, and your creative, peculiar minds.
I collaborated with the Traveller’s Fashion Show workshop and made several crowns with Emily from natural materials and scraps we collected on one of the hikes. They used the crowns as an accessory during their show. It was a nice experience to connect two different workshops and bring in the experience from one to another.

How who would you go forward with those topics?
I already started integrating this model of thinking in my everyday life and design practice. I didn’t look at nature as the potential for any kind of practical work before - like making a model for a project or any kind of creative object, but why not? I will definitely try to enhance my hand working skills and shift my perspective towards being an attentive tourist, wherever I go.

What would you change in Cairn?
I wouldn’t change anything about the concept of it. Moreover I would change my approach to it. If I were to do it again, I would engage much more and experiment to the fullest. I probably got lost in the freedom of it, but that is also a step towards questioning my own ways of thinking and working. Which turned out great as a start towards perspective shift.

What will you remember from it?
I will remember the nice walks and us being late for dinner but not caring. I will remember talking about interesting topics with even more interesting people during the time spent in nature. Especially, I will always remember the raft and our victorious moment when we found out it was working. If there were not too many people on it.


the loud maltese

Cairn is an experimental workshop which sought to understand the present landscape and the elements within it and attempt to create contextual objects/structures which represent the landscape without interfering with it.

Why have you chosen this workshop?
Specifically to roam a foreign landscape to understand its formation and the elements that comprise it, while learning to scavenge these elements and create innovative creations, which can be both utilitarian to help hiking and also metaphorical to improve the legibility of the landscape.

How is it related to the theme and context?
More often than not, the tourist is only concerned with the ‘prima facie’ of the context and landscape. The workshop consisted of what can be considered touristic - trekking along the paths in the mountains - however it sought to go a step further and make look deeper into the systems and ecosystems that formulate the mountainous areas.

What did you do?
Roam - Trek - Scavenge, from grasslands to peaks to woodlands, each landscape offered distinct experiences, atmospheres and ultimately materials. The gathered materials were used to create objects which sought to utilize what was learnt during the trek to create objects structures which could improve the next trek or make the landscape understandable to the ‘foreignor / tourist’.

What have you learnt?
Mostly that its really really hard to work with natural materials without the proper knowledge and craft on how to develop them. Moreover, it allowed for me to no be a bystander within the landscape but actually engage with it.

How who would you go forward with those topics?
Personally, I believe that the theme was very strong, where an individual is made to engage with his surroundings and learning from it. Furthermore, each landscape is comprised of its distinct elements which create its particular context. If repeated in an upcoming workshop, it would be possible to try to study and understand the outcomes from the separate workshops and trying to identify how the differing landscapes lent themselves to the creation of these objects/structures.

What will you remember from it?
Personally, I feel like it allowed me to really understand the physical and spatial dimensions of the space. The workshop was really team driven and each trek was different with different people and paths.


Vidéo de l'évènement.
EASA 2019 ‘Tourist’, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland - by Alexandra Kononchenko
Drone video: Alexandra Polyakova - Music: Apparat - Black Water