Discussions on happy cities and exhibitions at the Design Network Forum in Kaunas

Global organisations and discussions on happy cities at the first ever Design Network Forum in Lithuania

The International Design Festival has started in Kaunas, with the International Design Networks Forum as its final highlight. Speakers from international design organisations will meet and share their experiences at the event in Žalgiris Arena.

The festival and forum organised by “Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022” is an opportunity to present Kaunas as a design city to international audience, to establish contacts between design communities of various countries, and to meet creators.

Global design networks such as UNESCO Design Cities Network, icoD (International Council of Design), BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations) and EIDD (Design for All Europe) are taking part.

The Forum in Kaunas will be preceded by the main annual events of international and local design networks with long-standing traditions, which will be attended by design policy makers, design practitioners of various areas, design educators from all over the world, and all those who are interested in design topics are invited to visit the festival exhibitions.

Design brings human scale

Jonas Liugaila, a member of the Board of the Lithuanian Design Association and a lecturer at the Vilnius Academy of Arts,says that there has never been an event of such scale and concentration in Lithuania, when so many networkscome together in one place at the same time: "This is rather rare not only in Lithuania, but also in Europe or worldwide. I am referring not only to the culminating event - the Forum on 14 October - but also to other events, where several international organisations are inviting their members to participate, where representatives of Lithuanian design will also be present. It is intended for information sharing and networking."

Mr  Liugaila says that one of the core positions of designers is that cities are for people: "Design brings with it a human scale. Its relationship to the city is human scale." 

What is the relationship between design and society?

Virginija Vitkienė, Head of "Kaunas 2022", says that the Design Network Forum should be of interest to those who are interested in the themes and innovations of architecture, design and its innovations, and the relationship between art and design.

"The Forum should be of interest not only to professionals, but also to people in general who tend to think about their environment from the perspective of design and art. The Forum will be attended by almost 300 participants from all over the world," said V. Vitkienė.

The team of “Kaunas 2022” realised the importance of talking about urban design when they were just preparing the application for European Capital of Culture.

"Since Kaunas, as a design city, is part of the UNESCO network of creative cities, it seemed natural to talk about design. The city's architecture played a key role in making Kaunas a European Capital of Culture.

Throughout the past year, the programme of “Kaunas 2022” "Design for Happiness" has been intended for rethinking the relationship between design and society. A lot of attention has been paid to accessibility; an accessibility guide was developed several years ago. It is a practical guide with very detailed instructions for cultural institutions advising on how to make their services accessible to as many people as possible, including people with mobility, hearing and visual impairments.

The Forum on 14 October is also about happiness. Audrone Drungilaite Vilnius Academy of Arts Design Innovation Centre Director recommends seeing all ten carefully selected speakers. "Talks will run along the themes of design happiness and successful creation of the identity of the city". A joint forum of design networks will take place in the amphitheatre of Žalgiris Arena.