dieDAS fellowship program 2021

Symbiotic Habitat: Growing Regenerative Connections

July 25-August 7, 2021

“This year’s program is, at its heart, a reflection on encounters—between fellows and mentors; between this historical place and those who wish to reclaim it, and, importantly, among humans, other species, and our environment.”

—Maurizio Montalti, Artistic Director

For the 2021 dieDAS Fellowship Program, we welcomed four talented young designers to our Saaleck campus—Zeno Franchini, Pollyanna Moss, Carolina Pacheco, and Daniel Tish. For two weeks, these fellows worked closely with prestigious mentors to explore the timely theme Symbiotic Habitat. Together, they studied existing anthropocentric perspectives and investigated possibilities for craft and design in a mutually beneficial coexistence with nature.

Through both theoretical and practical hands-on experimentation—including expert lectures, excursions into the surrounding region, and a large-scale, site-specific collaborative building project using mycelium, a regenerative biomaterial—the designers reflected on our relationships to one another and our surroundings. Importantly, they were introduced to Syntropic Materials, a research approach that considers alternative agro-ecological models, such as regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, and attempts to combine such models with the latest developments in natural material research.

Set against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic and the inequities it has laid bare—amongst not just humankind but also between humans and our environment—the students found strength and inspiration in collaboration; in creative production that encouraged questioning of dominant narratives and traditional practices; and in respectful encounters with one another, the surrounding community, and natural world. Read on for insights from our 2021 Fellows on the experience.

And stay tuned for details on our 2022 program!

Pollyanna Moss, Daniel Tish, Carolina Pacheco, Zeno Franchini

Pollyanna Moss and Daniel Tish

Willow Weaving / Danie Tish, Carolina Pacheco, Pollyanna Moss, Zeno Franchini

Willow Weaving

Daniel Tish, Zeno Franchini, Carolina Pacheco , Pollyanna Moss with artistic director Maurizio Montalti and head mentor Eugenia Morpurgo

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“For me, the site-specific structure we created symbolizes that design is never owned by the designer—or even fully decided by the designer. There’s always a collection of things that inform any design. I hope that those who spend time with our structure are able to reflect on their own internal ways of looking at habitat, to consider: How can we live together with non-humans? With plants, with birds, with things we don’t fully understand—bacteria, viruses, and so on? How can we learn to live in our future? I hope it will provide a space of stillness for others to reflect on that—as it did for me.”

—Pollyanna Moss, Netherlands, 2021 Fellow

“Before we arrived in Saaleck, I was unclear how we’d be able to pair the dark history of this site with a very future-facing agenda. One of our lecturers, artist Vivien Sansour, encouraged us to hold those contradictions together, to work with that complexity and tension and let disparate things sit side by side. We could make our own mark on this space and turn it into something new and positive even if we don’t resolve everything that’s happened here. I found that to be a very profound lesson.”

—Daniel Tish, USA,  2021 Fellow

The 2021 dieDAS Fellowship Program was led by Artistic Director Maurizio Montalti and Head Mentor Eugenia Morpurgo. The 2021 edition’s prestigious mentor and lecturer roster included Prof. Daniela Spiegel, designer Fernando Laposse, conservationist and Palestine Heirloom Seed Library founder Vivien Sansour, Partner und Partner Architekten, Studio   Gionata Gatto, architect Rachel Armstrong, and Fibershed executive director Rebecca Burgess. Our sincerest gratitude to all for their time, dedication, and support.