Prototypes for provocation: the creative potential of a local identity
Behind each handmade utensil lies a forgotten story about its making and usefulness. How to recover this meaning and attempt a new continuity?
The Cultura Intensiva concept set out to experiment with existing rural artifacts and follow their stories as guidelines for alternative designs. We began the process with field research – an intense observation of ways of making and using in Southern Portugal, a region with a rich ‘making by’ heritage. The knowledge of vernacular culture became a method for designing based on folk experience rather than academic expertise. This enabled a reflection about how endemic material culture contributes to local identity in a place. The results are “material essays” which highlight gradual and reasonable development of everyday things. Traditional habits and customs gave the creative briefing for simple and intelligent design solutions.
A series of objects, supported by ‘new cuisine’ recipes highlighting regional ingredients, and reflections about regional craft culture by researchers, are all gathered in a published booklet.
The exhibition Cultura Intensiva showed old artifacts of the regional tradition side by side with new proposals, made by the same artisans. A material essay which proposes new continuity to the rich making culture of the Algarve.
For the first time these objects were presented for their design qualities besides ethnographic interest. This provocation launched discussion about the potential for a specific situated design practice in that region.