Mapping a Euregional platform for fashion
The i_beta/event 2011 was an event for creative professionals, entrepreneurs and students interested in new ideas on economy, society and culture. The event featured keynotes, lectures and workshops (for example, on design, e-culture and new business models). The i_beta/event 2011 was organized by Social Beta - centre for e-culture, which works on translating global innovative concepts to the local setting of Eutropolis (Euregion Meuse Rhine). For more information, see: http://www.ibeta.eu/2011/ or http://www.socialbeta.eu/.
The mapping sessions at the i_beta/event 2011 consisted of three rounds. There were three groups, each lead by a moderator who facilitated the sessions. There was also an overall moderator, who gave a short presentation on what MAP-it is and kept track of time during the mapping. In the first round of the session, the groups were asked to choose three values that would be represented by their own platform for fashion, to indicated the key people involved in their platform and to point out important knowledge, activities and tools. Next, the participants of each group had to ‘lock’ three elements that they found important in their map. In the second round of the session, the three presenters (chosen by the participants of each group) moved – together with their map – to another group. The other group had to ‘bomb’ elements of the map that they did not like. The also had to provide solutions, alternatives or opportunities. Finally, the participants of the other group had to ‘like’ several elements that they thought were interesting. In the third round, the presenters – again, together with the maps – moved once more to the third and final group. Here, the activities of the second round were repeated. Finally, the groups presented their maps to everyone.
So how did the participants envision a Euregional platform for fashion? The red group visualised a fashion platform as an open, interdisciplinary meeting place. The group found these values so important that they placed a lock on them (so that they could not be ‘bombed’ by the other groups). The goal of the red group’s platform was to form a connection between producers and (possible) consumers. A part of the platform functioned as a knowledge center; a forum, where people could get informed and where education was available. The group found this aspect of the platform important, which is why they placed the icon of a lock on it. The red group also addressed the financial aspect of the platform. Actors such as financers, governmental institutions or investors should finance the platform. During the second round, the participants of the blue group commented that they missed the creativity in the platform of the red group, so they placed a bomb on it. They also indicated (by using the triangular icon with the exclamation mark in it) that they had a different interpretation of “open”, namely “transparent” or “honest” (instead of the red group, who defined “open” in the context of creativity). The blue group also had doubts about the role of the platform as a knowledge center, while – at the same time – it functioned as an online shop. This group thought that – by also being a shop – the platform could not be reliable as a knowledge center. They called this “hidden advertisement”. The blue group proposed the solution of – instead of being an online shop – the platform should take the form of a physical (and more regional) shop. However, during the third round, the participants of the green group did not agree with the blue group. They “placed a bomb” on the “bomb” of the blue group, while indicating that the platform could take the form of a hybrid system. They thought that a pop-up store would be an interesting solution to this problem. The green group especially liked the aspect of the knowledge center. The participants interpreted it as a way of making (future) producers self-sustainable.
Society, public engagement and shared practice played an important role in the fashion platform of the green group. The participants of this group thought that the society would be the thriving force behind their platform. They also stressed the multicultural aspect of society (and thus the designers within their platform). Raising awareness was also an important role of the platform. This group’s platform too functioned partly as a knowledge center or a place for experimentation. During the second round, the participants of the red group liked how the platform expressed itself, namely via fashion shows, festivals, fairs and magazines. The green group’s platform also had a strong online counterpart, using social media, Internet and pc/mobile phones to promote it self. During the second and third round, both the red as the blue group disagreed with the goal of the platform of establishing a brand. The other two groups were afraid that the platform would become exclusive and selective. The blue group pointed out that the platform could not establish a brand and be a knowledge center at the same time. This would make the platform unreliable. One of the participants used the comparison of “McDonald’s informing people on healthy food”. During the third round, the participants of the blue group also pointed out that they did not understand how the platform would be innovative.
The participants of the blue group envisioned a mainly online platform with a strong Euregional style. This group also pointed out "society" as an important value. The designers – which, together with the public, were central to the company of this platform – used knowledge from everywhere. These interdisciplinary designers collaborated with each other on a Euregional level. The blue group’s company should be advertised as Euregional (for example through local events, but also through the online community). The clothes it sells should be global available, yet should keep their unique and regional feel. The platform of the blue group should express the pride in the region. This is an important reason why they locked the core value as being Euregional in quality and style. The participants of the blue group thought that their platform would function as a mid-range fashion company. However, during the second round, the red group did not like this, indicating that the platform should not exclude anyone. The red group also placed a triangular icon with an exclamation mark in it on the “Euregional style” that the blue group had placed on their compass. The red group thought that it would be problematic to ‘reduce’ their platform to one regional style. The blue group promoted both a physical shop as an online community. However, the red group wondered how the platform of the blue group would keep the balance between the different countries of the Euregio. Therefore, they proposed pop-up shops across the Euregio. During the third round, the green group placed a bomb on the blue group’s remark that, although the designers should be Euregional, it would not matter where the clothes are fabricated.
Concluding, the two groups had the chance of visualizing their ideas on a Euregional platform for fashion. The mapping session made clear that the participants of all the three groups had different perspectives on how such a platform should look like. However, although all of the maps differed from each other, there we also recurring themes present (such as the relationship between an offline and online counterpart, the juxtaposition of the platform as a knowledge center versus the platform as a brand and the close relationship with contemporary society). All and all, the mapping session at the i_beta/event 2011 was a nice opportunity to image how a (future) Euregional fashion platform could look like!