Identity is, literally, what makes us identical to others. It is essential for forming a community, be it religious, national, local, sexual, racial or artistic. What makes an identity interesting is that it is in fact, a combination of multiple identities that are unique to each one of us and resembles a tool box. Everyone searches in their own, to find the identity that is useful at a given moment. It allows us to find a similarity with other people and create a connection, an identified community, even if it is a superficial and momentary one. Some can use their identity to exclude, but the traveler know it is more useful to use the identity that includes. Socialising with unknown people is about finding the « identity zone » in which we can communicate.
Our investigative design program Ideal Lab have taken on the theme identity, “replanted identity”, in the particular context of the Micropolis. Since most places are inhabited by indigenous and migrant populations, destined to stay there, an inclusive local identity emerge as important to create a happy and prosperous local community. The identity issue has become very relevant as the traditional borders disappear. Having a certain nationality as once only identity does not suffice anymore. Humans are more and more connected to each other, above geographical and language borders, and choosing the right identity at the right moment is the best way to amplify these connexions. We stay less often where we were born or where our ancestors came from. Humanity is migrating to the cities, and its populations, better educated than ever before, can choose where and how they want to live. Helping humans to generate identities which allow them to connect easily to others is not a luxury anymore, but a common need.
Everyone is a mix of endogenous and exogenous identities. Our endogenous identity is a result of how our body is connected, how we perceive data from the world that surrounds us and how we deal with it. Everyone is, in this aspect, quite unique, more or less sensitive to certain stimuli. Our exogenous identities are the result of our environment: the culture we grew up in, the educations we received, but also the friends we have chosen, the positive and negative experiences that marked us, the travels we made and the influences we have had. This mix of identities is the way we define ourselves and a way to connect ourselves to others. We can feel European because we feel connected to the other inhabitants of the continent. We can feel we belong to a place where we were not born, our mere presence there making us feel linked to its other inhabitants.
A successful local identity is a meeting point of the best in us. Where of the physical peculiarities of its territory meets the history of the place and the people who live there, while still making space for those who haven’t moved there yet, those who are just passing by, and those who would like to settle for good. The success of a local identity is a daily collective practice, an object of desire, something unique and simple, open enough to include most people, but with enough restrictive definition not to lose its strength. The search for identity is the quest for what unites people, what bring them together, through what is identical to all. We have invited French and Norwegian creative Agents to immerse themselves in three unique places - Florø and Saint Nazaire, and Tøyen in Oslo. All are distinctive, gorgeous and in transformation, with similarities and differences. These Agents collectively and individually studied and observed these Micropolises to project a new version of the local identity in artworks and objects, all vectors of a “replanted identity”.
Integration is a process in which one maintains individuality while adapting to stay relevant and alive. In the case of migration, it is to make space for the new without losing the familiar, both for the welcoming society as well as for the migrant. For cities, it means becoming more attractive while staying unique. Adaptation is a dialectic movement between transformation and conservation. Florø and Saint-Nazaire alike depend on their industrial activity to survive economically, and therefore on the know-how of their working migrants. But to keep being attractive to skilled migrants, the two cities need to adapt while being faithful to what makes them unique. In both cities, adaptation is not only human and economic, it is also an essential feature of their geography, of the ocean and its tide, the ever changing weather, the uninterrupted movement of people, objects, and elements.
The climate of the Northern sea with its extreme weather has inspired us the “Storm” vases that bend the flowers like the coastal pine that adapt to the wind and find its place in a horizontal position.
Storm has been designed within Ideal Lab Replanted Identity process. On the West coast of Norway, both nature and people are shaped by the extreme weather conditions. The strong winds incline the maritime pine in a vertical position, giving body to the quote: “the wind does not break a bendy tree”. The Florøværing is taking any unexpected situations in a pragmatic stride. A cancelled flight or a black out because of the passing storm is taken with a calm confidence while they are adapting their plans to the new situation. The ability to adapt is essential to integration of new inhabitants and create a replanted local identity.
Both immaterial and material adaptation gives new shape to the existing. We wanted to illustrate this in the Storm vases. Our first idea was to make these vases out of bended steel pipes, inspired by the local oil based industry, which is sustaining the local community of Florø. From a shipbuilding culture, Florø have had to learn how to be proud of working with pipes. Great strength is used to bend these to adapt them to the need of their usage. In the case of the Storm vases, it is the flowers that are taking the shape of bended glass.