These are the complete lectures of the previous TRADERS Autumn School 2015. The lectures are organized in the same order as they took place in Genk, from the 10th to the 12th of November 2015.

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On the 13th of January 2016 the event Mapping the world : design and conflicts was setup by Design Debates. Four mapping experts (artist Jan Rothuizen,  designer Joost Grootens, researcher Leeke Reinders and design researcher Naomi Bueno de Mesquita) presented their work/ research. The presentations were followed by a debate in which the different approaches of/takes on maps and mapping were discussed in a world that is facing conflicts. Questions were raised such as: What is the role of maps and the activity of mapping in a world that is more and more dealing with conflicts? How can maps help us to get a better understanding? How do mapping practices deal with questions of power? Is mapping itself a political activity?

The programme of the evening can be viewed here:

“Maps have become an increasingly active and explicit part of everyday life, particularly in a world where the possibilities for (re)production of graphic images have multiplied. Reality can be viewed in different ways, it just depends on whose eye, from which viewpoint, and the interests underlying their observations and actions. (Leeke Reinders).

What is the role of maps and the activity of mapping in a world that is more and more dealing with conflicts? How can maps help us to get a better understanding and is mapping in itself a political activity? Furthermore, technological developments also make it more difficult to achieve a single and dominant viewpoint. Information travels fast and there are plenty of advanced techniques available for the creation and manipulation of maps. Maps themselves have also become more flexible. They’re in our minds, in the car, on our mobile phone. What is the role of maps and mapping in a world that is facing conflicts?”

The moderator of the evening was David Hamers (lecturer at Design Academy Eindhoven and supervisors in the TRADERS programme).



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The Recipes for unControl project explores when and how young adults perceive borders and other forms of control in today’s public space. A group of 16 years old explored this issue through printing subjective narratives and recipes, prescribing how to deal with these borders in a playful way. All recipes will contribute to a pocket book, offering citizens new ways to explore public space. Konsthall’s Tryckverkstaden served as a working space for the youngsters to meet and exchange stories by experimenting with various printing techniques. The project was presented at Göteborgs Konsthall, December 2015 – January 2016

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A project by the Office for Public Play / TRADERS with 10 grade students from ISGR and master students of Child Culture Design from HDK, in collaboration with Tryckverkstaden, Göteborgs Konsthall and Kulturförvaltningen Göteborg. With Tanay Dashottar, Ameya Deshpande, Leonora Ernst, Kaoru Fesenko, James Harte, Tova Persson, Stella Postleb, Kairi Pullerits, Paul Schindler, Oscar Teiffel, Max Zayashnikov.

Borders and control in public space — map, stories and Recipes for UnControl
The map enumerates and categorises what borders and other forms of control young adults encounter in todays public space. The series of subjective stories, presented in the collective print, give a deeper insight to the objective data of the map. In the second collective print, called “Recipes for UnControl”, the young adults propose recipes that generate new perspectives on how to deal with these forms of control experienced in public space. Rather than seeing control as borders that hinders them, the recipes offer ludic action and counter perspectives.

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Bodies of Control, Gestures of Control and UnControl
How do we feel when we encounter borders, controlling us in public space? It is not always easy to talk about feelings and emotions. Sometimes our body reacts in a direct way and expresses more easily what we can’t say with words. The publications “Bodies of Control”, “Gestures of Control” and “Gestures of UnControl” collect expressions made by the body. In order to communicate about specific forms of control in a more direct way, the young adults developed a “gesture language” in which the hand plays an important role in warning for control or suggesting of how to counter this control, to uncontrol.


Recipes for UnControl, towards a pocket book
Starting from the collection of borders that young adults encounter in public space, presented in the map and the stories, we invited the visitors of the exhibition to make their own recipes. Using a typewriter, or other techniques offered in Tryckverkstaden, a new collection of recipes was made for the pocket book “Recipes for UnControl.”


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How to explore a site by opening up senses for unpredictable exploration?

The Office for Public Play was invited by “De Andere Markt” to contribute to the discussion on how to reconfigure work in Genk, starting from the “Kolenspoor” as a case study. This was part of the TRADERS Autumn School, November 10-13 2015. A collective of eight designers, artist, researchers and peers – with a background in play and games as approach for working on participatory art and design projects in/on public space – was formed for exploring this question during a working table at the Autumn School.
Working table with Janneke Absil, Oswald Devisch, Ruth Matheus Berr, Selina Schepers, Maxime Vancoillie, Andy Vandevyvere, Winglam Kwok and Annelies Vaneycken.

Work/labour is an essential part of the origin and history of the city of Genk. After closing the mines at the end of the 80s, the Ford succeeded being the main employer for many Genkenaars until this automobile manufacturer had to close its doors in 2014 as well. Since then, Genk and its broader region are left with huge rates of unemployment.

The Kolenspoor is a former rail track connecting different mine sites in Genk and its surroundings. Since the closure of the mines, most of the track is left unused. Only a small part of the Kolenspoor is still official in use to transport goods from/to an adjacent industry zone. Locals use some parts of the Kolenspoor informally, e.g. to extend their gardens for cultivating vegetables, keeping domestic animals or dumping waste. Other places are abandoned and overgrown by nature.


The aim of the working table was not to come up with new design solutions on how to re-use the Kolenspoor but to explore how the track, as public place, is currently used and how it can be re-imagined by creating and sharing stories. The track allows us to explore its relation as public meeting place and place for informal work. The working table generated a play model that aims to open up senses for unpredictable explorations

The play model exists out of a set of simple instructions and work principles.
1. make two groups at a chosen place of departure; 2. walk away from each other in opposite directions; 3. make a trail by leaving traces; 4. return in one hour to the place of departure; 5. find the traces and trail of the other group; and 6. retrace the found trail 7. share stories and discussion.
1. when making traces we advice to work with “lost and found” material and with respect of the environment 2. when exploring use various ways of documenting your exploration, like e.g. notes, sketches, letters, photos, video, maps, …

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Despite of its simple rules, the play generated different paths and collections of objects, users and stories. The making and seeking of traces triggered a broad spectrum of senses opening up speculation and imagination. Curiosity and a soft sense of competition drove the exploration of the site in various directions. The performativity of writing and reading the traces on sight happened in conjunction with ‘talking’ as means to generate a collective experience that is partly documented and, later on, is expressed, shared and passed on through stories. The play and making of the stories were not seen as goal but inherent to the process of the exploration. The informal mode of walking and collective making of traces invites the players to express very subjective and possible opposing ideas and reactions. The play helps the players to create stories, real and fictional, and therefore helps them to re-imagine multiple interpretation of the track/site. In addition to sharing stories and reimagining the site, the play contributes to a collective learning process that makes the players look differently at the track and may make them act differently during the further process of the project.

In contrast to other proposals, this model demands the player to make traces instead of only finding traces. In addition, this model does not aim to classify the found traces in relation to a predefined goal, defined by the designer(s), but create a collection of multiple storylines, real and fictive, and multiple possibilities, realistic or utopian that represents the diversity and subjectivity of the individual participants.
Another element that distinguishes this play from other ways for site exploration is the second phase in which a group searches for the trail(s) and traces made by the other group. Mystery arises when one tries to find out if a certain signal should or could be interpreted as a trace left by the other group, a trace left by previous visitors or as a non-trace. Mystery acts here as play signal for entering imaginary worlds. Furthermore, it is unclear if the trace that was intentionally left was meant as marking or as message. “Is this a trace of a meeting, of a path, of a ritual, of an event, … or is this just my imagination?” The ambiguity of the traces allows multiple interpretations and new possibilities and thus opens up the participatory process for diversity and subjectivity of the individual participants.
In comparison to other forms of exploration, this model does not only pass on its stories through forms of documentation like e.g. maps, photos, videos, but the stories are passed on as well, directly or indirectly, through the traces themselves. This means an ongoing exploration of the traces and site. In this way, the temporary or more fixed traces might also trigger and involve other publics than the actual players after the exploration play has finished.

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Because of its simple rules, the model can be transferred and adjusted to explore different types of spaces. The model is available as PDF; download, print recto verso on A4 and fold using the instructions.

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Kolenspoor platform interface

As part of the second international Autumn School of TRADERS, themed “On the role of participatory art and design in the reconfiguration of work (in Genk)”, Saba Golchehr hosted a workshop on data mining titled ‘Genk’s economic shift: From mining coal to mining data‘.

In order to familiarise the participants of this working table to the context and the topic of the workshop we started our session with two introductions. The first introduction was given by Liesbeth Huybrechts, in which she explained our case study: the Kolenspoor project. Following this, I gave an introduction on the theme of this working table.

First, the participants were asked to share their conceptions of, and experience with, Big Data, data mining and algorithms. Following up on their contribution, I introduced my main research aim and my approach to data mining. Here, I emphasised on the difference between traditional data analysis and data mining in the ‘Big Data era’, and elaborated on where the essence of the data-driven approach lies in my research and therefore also in the workshop. This introduction opened up some interesting paths for the workshop for us to discuss.

One of the outcomes of this discussion was the idea of crowdsourcing data collection on the Kolenspoor project. We talked about how we could approach this systematically, and I explained that in a ‘Big Data approach’ metadata is of equal importance as the data aimed at collecting. As a result of this discussion we explored what data we could gather when taking photos of the site, and decided to focus on geo-location to be able to automatically map photos (data) that we would collect. After altering some camera settings in our smartphones to capture geo-data for photos, we went outside to visit one of the sites along the Kolenspoor track. Here we all took pictures and uploaded these to our shared database.

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2015-11-12 15.03.06   Traders-13nov2015-17-BB

During our visit to the site we noticed a lot of informal economic activity along Kolenspoor track. There were small animal farming activities (ostriches, chicken, goats) and small-sized food agriculture, but there also seemed to be some (illegal) trade in cars and building materials. Liesbeth also informed us that the cafeteria located along the track wasn’t a formal enterprise, but that it was nevertheless tolerated by the municipality, because they recognise the social value of such establishments. After our site visit we reflected on these activities and started discussing about a model in which these informal economic activities would be the foundation of a new economic model for Genk. We reflected on how the town has always been dominated by a triangular structure of labour (capital), council (state) and employees (public), in which labour was provided by large monopolies (the coal mines and later the Ford factory).

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2nd TRADERS International Autumn School
9-13th November 2015, Genk (BE)


From the 9th to the 13th of November of 2015, the second international Autumn School of TRADERS took place in Genk. Under the title “On the role of participatory art and design in the reconfiguration of work (in Genk)”, the program included a diverse series of lectures, working tables -guided by each TRADERS’ ESR-, local projects to contextualize the work and reflections, and non-work activities like an informal night tour around the garden-cities (cités). Tuesday and Wednesday most of the lectures took place, whilst two were programmed for Thursday (one of them cancelled due to the speaker’s illness); on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning-midday the group of participants divided into 5 groups and joined one of the working tables, organized by each of the TRADERS’ researchers. The results where presented on Friday at 15h, followed by a group reflection by Liesbeth Huybrechts and Carl DiSalvo.


Monday 9th of November

On Monday the 9th of November we hosted an informal welcome and drinks to the Autumn School in De Andere Markt, the shop-front working as a living lab by the host researcher of TRADERS. Veerle van der Sluys, as director of LUCA School of Arts (Campus C-Mine) gave a first welcome and impression of Genk; Pablo Calderon Salazar, the host ESR, briefly described the context of the Autumn School and its relation to Genk; and Jan Boelen who, besides being the creative director of Z33, was born and grew up in Genk, gave his personal recommendations for the work of the week, particularly to look for the frictions in the city.

Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk

Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk

Tuesday 10th of November

On Tuesday the 10th of November, the official program of the Autumn School started with an introduction by Jessica Schoffelen, co-coordinator of the project, who gave a brief background of how TRADERS came into being and it’s connection to Genk, the host research group (Social Spaces) and the local projects. Wim Dries, current mayor of Genk, gave the opening lecture of the AS, by recounting what he calls the three industrial revolutions of Genk (coal, manufacturing and creative industries), and by inviting us to look for ways of re-building Genk society from the bottom-up. In contrast with the politician, the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk followed with her lecture, which described a process of creation of a neighbourhood cooperative in a marginalized neighbourhood of Rotterdam (Afrikaanderwijk). Then, Pelle Ehn, one of the pioneers of Participatory Design in Scandinavia in the 70’s, gave a historical background of how the three living labs they created in Malmö came into being and how did they work. At last, sociologist Pascal Gielen described the challenges of creative work in current (repressive) times. On the evening the group of participants took walking tours around Winterslag 1 and 2 (two of the three garden cities of the neighborhood).

Jeanne van Heeswijk, Visual Artist (NL)

Jeanne van Heeswijk, Visual Artist (NL)

Wednesday 11th of November

On Wednesday the 11th of November the program started by a lecture by designer and design educator Carl DiSalvo, who was also present during all the week. Carl gave a framework for understanding social design today and its potential as –what he calls- a prefigurative practice. Then, Wim Embrechts, interior architect from Brussels, described the creation of a project to empower youngsters in a marginalized neighbourhood of Brussels by encouraging them to develop their own skills and interests. After, Hilde Heynen, one of TRADERS supervisors, brought a missing topic –until now- in the different TRADERS’ for a: gender. Hilde described how the modernist city –and its public spaces- have fostered some kind of gender discrimination; she also made reference to Hanna Arendt and her differentiation of labour, work and action. After Hilde’s lecture, we visited the two projects that would serve as context for our work in the coming days: Betty’s Garden and De Andere Markt. Then we returned for the last lecture of the day, given by other of the TRADERS supervisors, David Hamers. David shared his research in two types of environments: former mining region in Poland and suburban towns in the United States.

Carl DiSalvo, designer and educator (USA)

Carl DiSalvo, designer and educator (USA)


Hilde Heynen

Thursday 12th of November

Frank Moulaert was the third TRADERS supervisor who gave a lecture during the Autumn School. He spoke about (the role of) social innovation in a post-political context. He did so by framing what he understood as SI, taking as reference –and contrast- Ezio Manzini and the SPINDUS manual, which he contributed to. He stressed the importance of understanding the socio-political context of such projects. In the late morning (11h), given the cancellation from the other lecturer (Rianne Makkink) due to illness, we started to work in the different working tables, led by each of the TRADERS ESR’s.


Frank Moulaert

Working Tables

  • Naomi Bueno de Mesquita – Mapping labor: participatory practices as mode of inquiry in reconfiguring work.
  • Jon Geib & Michael Kaethler – Problematising post-Fordist instrumentalisation of Art and Design labour.
  • Pablo Calderón Salazar – To Intervene or not to Intervene? That is (not) the question.
  • Annelies Vaneycken – Desire Lines of Genk: exploring play as means to rethink mobility and work (in Genk).
  • Saba Golchehr – Genk’s economical shift: from mining coal to mining data. Strengthening the social networks of local entrepreneurs for future economic resilience.


Friday 13th of November

Friday saw the last day of the Autumn School, with a continuation of the collective work within the working tables and a public presentation at 15.00 in De Andere Markt. After, at 17.00, a collective and open forum was made to reflect on the input and work from the week. The forum was moderated by Carl DiSalvo and Liesbeth Huybrechts.


Final Reflection (Liesbeth & Carl)


  • Should we be expected to ‘do’ social innovation? What is our role as researchers?
  • Grounded theory?
  • Awareness of the ‘three pillars’ of social innovation? Include important issues (matters of concern) into our projects / processes. Politicize. Gender! How to integrate these issues? What is still missing? Diversity, race, multi-disciplinarity…?
  • Frank’s lesson: “how do we engage with an existing structure?”.
  • The first (serious) discussion within the design community about ‘work’ (Carl DiSalvo).
  • Similar perspective as ‘Hilde’s’, but in the realm of art. Design is solving problems, while art is creating them.
  • How to inform artistic / design practices through design / art. Artists might see designers as a threat.
  • Is there a clash between design and design research? Reflect on practice.
  • What are the ‘sites of doing research’? Has it shifted from the office / atelier to the public? How is the work you are doing opening new sites of design (practice and research)? How do we learn to act in contemporary logics? Iterative process of action-reflection.
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From the 9th to the 13th of November, TRADERS will host its second international Autumn School: “ON THE ROLE OF PARTICIPATORY ART AND DESIGN IN THE RECONFIGURATION OF WORK (IN GENK)”. HERE you can view / download the final program of the week (of which applicants selected from a public call will take part).


Besides the full program, there will be a public program of lectures during the first three days (see poster above). Attendance to the lectures is free, but registration is required. Send an e-mail to before November the 2nd and mention the lectures you wish to attend.

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During Dutch Design Week 2015 (17th – 25th October), research associate Naomi Bueno de Mesquita at Design Academy Eindhoven (TRADERS researcher in Multiple Performative Mapping), invites you to participate in the cartographic exploration What Moves You? A collective realtime mapping of the transformation of the city during Eindhoven’s Dutch Design Week. DDW’s visitors – YOU! – collectively become the authors/ creators of a map that shows the feelings that circulate during DDW.


1. Visitors of DDW are asked to use a web-application on their mobile phone ( and designate a feeling to a DDW location.

2. A picture is taken of the ‘thing (object, place, person,…) that triggered this emotion.

3. The data is uploaded and directly visible. The realtime map demonstrates the areas of Eindhoven (comparing the different venues of DDW) that are more or less emotionally laden, what emotions are felt where, and why. For example, many pictures of the same object tell us that the work in question triggers an emotion that is felt collectively, but in case a work has many different adjectives linked to it, it tells us that people experience different emotions that are all triggered by the same work.



During Dutch Design Week Naomi walked in Eindhoven between the different venues with a measuring wheel on which a projector is mounted, this way; doubling as presentation device. The measuring wheel is to be seen as a metaphor for the way in which Naomi measured and (asked visitors to) map(ped) feelings that circulate during Dutch Design Week. The object is designed by Karianne Rygh and Rinze Borm. It makes the digital component of this research tangible and part of a performance in which visitors of DDW are triggered to participate. Throughout the week, the realtime map was projected on the urban fabric in different places in the city. Naomi carried a device which tracked her movement so that people could find her anytime of the week if they wanted to ask her for an update of the map or to discuss the research.


Naomi carries a tracking device with her with which the walked tracks can be followed via a website. Visitors can visit her anywhere to get an update on the map or to discuss the research (such as here under the bridge).


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The Office for Public Play installed its office at A-venue during the Growing with Design exhibition.

The Archive for Public Play aims to generate knowledge on ‘free play’ — the unstructured play that children initiate themselves, without control or supervision by adults. Besides treasuring free play as cultural heritage, this collection of personal stories, photos and open instructions wants to reactivate public space through re-enacting contributions of the archive. This installation invites you to contribute to the archive by memorising and narrating your favourite free play activities as child, or from when you were a child. The archive is inspired by the painting “Children’s Games” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1560).

This work is part of the Office for Public Play, a research platform exploring what influence free play can have on the culture, shape and functioning of the city and its public spaces.

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De Andere Markt (DAM) is the main case study for the approach of interventions. DAM is a project where we are combining a site based studio with ephemeral interventionist strategies to discuss and further develop future ideas on work in Genk. The interventions started to take place the 5th of June and will run throughout one whole year, in the context of the city-scale participatory project G360. They make use of a cargo bike with a low-tech printing press incorporated; this is used to go to the different neighborhoods of Genk and print posters for people that visualize their skills. The project is reported in its own blog and Facebook page.


The 19th of September we inaugurated our own shopfront, which complements the project and allows to have ‘rooting’ in a specific community. The space will be our working place, with regular opening ours, but will also serve as context for all the activities organized for the project.


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