L.A. meets Oberhausen
Amerikanische StudentInnen zu Gast bei Kitev
In den letzten Wochen hatten wir Fans aus den USA zu Gast. Die 20 StudentInnen aus den Bereichen Design und Marketing hatten es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht unter dem Titel "Marketing for Good" zivilgesellschaftliche Initiativen und Gemeinschaftsprojekte in Deutschland kennenzulernen und passende Design- und Marketingkonzepte für diese engagierten Projekte zu entwerfen. Hierfür hat die Gruppe plus Dozenten mehrere Tage bei uns im Turm und um die Ecke im Unterhaus verbracht. Sie haben Ideen entwickelt für ein mögliches Catering-Konzept für die Refugees Kitchen als Teil der Ruhrtriennale, oder aber direkt beim Kochen für das D.Ramadan-Festival mitangepackt. Zudem waren sie live dabei, als wir die Refugees` Kitchen auf Zeche Zollverein platzierten und die Gäste des Symposiums „Glückauf Nachbarn – Modellquartier Integration“ von unserem Konzept begeisterten.
Inspiriert von diesen Erfahrungen entwickelten die Studierenden aufregende Produkte, die den Geist der experimentellen Interventionen von kitev wiederspiegeln. Bei einem Abschluss-Meeting in Düsseldorf wurden diese letzten Endes präsentiert und ein letzter gemeinsamer Abschiedsabend miteinander verbracht.
Vielen Dank für den interessanten Austausch und die tatkräftige Unterstützung!
Der Blogeintrag einer der Studierenden beschreibt die neuen Eindrücke und Erfahrungen aus Sicht der Gruppe vermutlich am besten:
Loyola Marymount University professors, Saeri Dobson and Matt Stefl, along with fourteen students,traveled to Germany from Los Angeles, California on a mission to use design and marketing for good. Under a rigorous schedule full of research in seven cities, lectures, product prototype production and more, the group found the perfect match in Kitev's fast-paced passionate work style. The Global Imagination Program, designed by Dobson and Stefl in collaboration with Akademie für Internationale Bildung, includes two courses. In Design Entrepreneurship, students explore and deliver on the “role of the designer in the community by raising public awareness and engaging social responsibility through participatory design, civic engagement and service learning,” Dobson explains. Thanks to Kitev, not only is the group on the right track to delivering on this promise, but also, it is actively learning the applicability and importance of corporate citizenship, a key goal in Stefl’s course, suitably titled, Marketing for Good.
Christoph Stark, well versed in quick immersion and speedy turnarounds, welcomed the LMU group to Oberhausen and got right to work. The students, wide-eyed with possibility after the tour of the multistory, protean water tower, were tasked with the challenge to make an immediate positive contribution to Kitev's efforts. Stark was not short on ideas and hardly shy about informing students that preconceived notions of how to help refugees, artists and other community members with whom Kitev works, may need to be put aside.
Stark gave the group three options: those who wanted to design solutions and create visuals could stay in the water tower, those who were up for manual labor were welcomed to the warehouse/kitchen and those interested in a nap were offered beanbags. The first group, led by Dobson and mainly consisting of graphic design majors, worked with Kitev’s, Agnieszka Wnuczak, and Gesina Rath, to address Kitev’s undertaking to serve food at West Germany’s largest contemporary theater, [proceeds of which will benefit the Refugee Kitchen. The second group followed Stark across the street where they were to clean up the warehouse and help Refugee Kitchen chef Ahmad Abbas and volunteers Selma and Imad Itef, cook Ramadan dinner. The beanbags remained empty.
In loose keeping with the Ramadan practice of waiting until after sundown to breakfast, Kitev and the students toiled away tirelessly with the goal of serving Sunday dinner at Oberhausen Theater’s outdoor picnic area. Stefl and a group of marketing majors and studio arts students tore down interior structures for the warehouse’s renovation and took culinary direction from the kitchen team. Meanwhile, the design group sweated amongst a floor full of blueprints of the venue space for which they were to create promotion and spatial design, including signage and wayfinding for the upcoming event. By dinnertime, the design group was ready to contemplate its potential solutions over a meal under the Oberhausen Theater’s twinkling lights. Helping the Refugee Kitchen transport and serve a meal that night would be a critical step in the group’s project development, as it would help them understand how the chefs run the kitchen’s catering services.
Over the delicious Ramadan spread, which included chicken and rice, a vegetarian tahini dish, dates and more, students made friends with Oberhausen Theater guests and reflected on the first day of their Kitev collaboration. “My mom always talks about her own escape from political unrest in Nicaragua. But working in the kitchen with the chefs who are seeking refuge today was the first time I really felt personally connected to the turmoil of migration,” said LMU studio arts student, Michael Mahammadie-Sabet.
By the next visit, the students had already begun to adapt to the Kitev’s zippy and innovative process. The design group presented moodboards and spatial plans to Stark for his feedback. The warehouse group jumped into the kitchen for another dinner preparation and some continued to clear the space, a few even used powertools for the first time! When Mohammad and Nek, invited students to help with the upholstery of their signature maximum comfort denim couches, a student from each group joined. They showed the two students how to prepare discarded materials for repurposing and taught them how to sew—from bobbin winding to stitching.
Stark, mid-sprint on our dash from the tower to make sundown dinner at the theater, expressed the value in sharing Kitev’s model with the students, comparing it to when the mayor of Istanbul asked him to create a version of Kitev for his city, “when I’m asked, ‘how do you do this and how do you help people with it?’, I answer by showing them.” The second Ramadan dinner gave students a first hand view of how the Refugee Kitchen serves in an indoor theater space. Experiencing the dinner-theater-style seating was a piece of the puzzle that would help students think about how to reimagine the chefs’ services from a buffet meal to a made-to-order event. After Imad’s menu announcement, LMU marketing student, Brittany Aldredge, delivered a speech thanking Kitev and the Refugee Kitchen for a transformative experience.
With bellies full and brains and bodies exhausted from a hard day’s work, the students were finally ready to crash on the beanbags. Some even stayed behind to help the team to clean the kitchen at late night. Daytime efforts to clear the warehouse paid off when Ahmad and the students enjoyed a jam session with the drums, guitar and piano that had been uncovered.
“I really had a great time there,” said LMU student, Sijia Echo Yang, with a grounding exhale. Instead of squeezing the collaboration with Kitev into their existing syllabus projects, the students were able to learn how they could be helpful to Kitev and its beneficiaries in the way the latter wanted to be helped. This came from listening, learning, observation and hands on project work. A huge success was the collaboration’s realization of what Dobson’s syllabus describes as, “designing with rather than just for the community,” and the fostering of “self-awareness and personal development as a social design entrepreneur.”
Marketing major, Sara Kistler, articulated this sensation by describing her journey with Kitev thus far: “The first day I felt more like a little kid, not knowing what the adults are saying.” Kistler said she then embraced the language difference as an opportunity to communicate via a mutual love of culinary creativity. Kistler was also able to approach any uncertainty over cultural norms with a learning-ready attitude. The kitchen ignited another passion of her’s, hospitality, a skillset that the students were able to learn is a valuable asset in marketing, whether one is working with a corporate client or a cause-based initiative.