Summer Xskool

Farmers’ markets as hubs of knowledge exchange? Food waste as social enterprise? Blue-green systems as social assets? In the Summer Xskool, we get hands-on in with sustainable development and design. We explore how design can help people interact with living systems in ways that help both of them thrive. We will craft and test small actions that effect larger social-, economic- and eco-systems. And we will do this by learning, designing and collaborating with a unique cultural-ecological center including activities with Sweden’s leading culinary arts school! Summer Xskool is a partnership between Konstfack and John Thackara.

The aim of the Summer Xskool is to introduce an approach to design for sustainable development that departs from local context and issues. This is achieved together with leading international experts. The course involves collaborative creation of design proposals for sustainable futures, involving artifacts, systems and/or platforms as a significant force of change, transition and transformation. The course is situated locally in Sweden during 1 workshop week, when students and teachers from Sweden and internationally share their experiences, learn and apply their knowledge to the site. Besides this workshop week, the course is 'distance' work through email and the course webpage. The course is a partnership between Konstfack and John Thackara, the author of the international bestseller In the Bubble - Designing in the Complex World and the director of Doors of Perception (
Apply to Summer Xskool 2015 now!
2015 Summer Xskool (course code IDKS03, 7.5 credits)

Summer Xskool Facebook page

Below is documentation and pictures:
• 2014 Summer Xskool
• 2013 Summer Xskool

2014 Summer Xskool

IDKS02, 4.5 credits

“34 designers, artists and architects spent a week at our Xskool on Grinda last month to explore two questions: What does this food system taste like? and, How does this forest think?” – John Thackara

The course was conducted in 3 stages:
(1) Preparatory work as "distance work" including readings and lectures provided through the course website (topics include the metabolic rift, food commons, ecological agriculture, social farming, etc.), and an assignment to map a local food systems case local to each student's context or culture.
(2) Workshop week of intensive - as well as fun and delicious! - sharing and learning in person with all students and faculty at Grinda island in the Stockholm Archipelago
(3) Reflection as "distance work" consisting of documentation, reflection and projection of learnings from the workshop week.

Bachelor, master and PhD students attended the 2014 Summer Xskool from Konstfack, The Art Academy of Latvia (LV), Academy of Fine Arts Poznan (PL), Beckmans College of Design, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Det Konglige Danska Kunstakademi (DK), École Nationale superleure d'architecture de Nantes (FR), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Lund University, Malmö University, Mittuniversitet, Stockholm University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Uppsala University.

2014 Summer Xskool was a partnership between Konstfack, Doors of Perception and the Futureperfect Fextival.

Ramia Mazé (course leader, Konstfack); John Thackara (Doors of Perception); Michael Toivio (Future Perfect); and Aija Freimane (Art Academy of Latvia); Cheryl Akner-Koler, Magnus Lindfors and Thomas Forsberg from Konstfack

Reviews of 2014 Summer Xskool

from  2014 Summer Xskool

Intro videos (a video by John Thackara and another by Mikelis Benuzs)

 'A Path Less Travelled' project (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Connecting Taste' project (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Dilemmas' project (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Dirtea' project (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Food for Thought' (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Grinda Alive' (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

'Proseed' (link to photos and 90-sec video summary)

2013 Summer Xskool

The 2013 Summer Xskool, in collaboration with John Thackara (Doors of Perception) and Futureperfect, was a workshop following the format of an XSkool. The main focus of Futureperfect is creating "activities that showcase the great stuff already happening within real sustainable living". This year's workshop week took place at Grinda island in Stockholm's archipelago. Konstfack students joined with students from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to find not-too-complicated ways to engage through design with complex sustainability issues. This reflects Konstfack Industrial Design department's emphasis on the holistic integration of products, services and systems. In this course, we engaged with complex real-world issues such as food, transport, water and waste, in which we do not look for simple "problems" to solve in isolation but develop design within human- and eco- system contexts.

The course was conducted in two stages:
(1) map the ecosystem of actors and relationships, so that the complexity is made visible;
(2) choose a sub-set of that ecosystem - the links between just two actors, or nodes, for example - and enhance that connection

Students have:
a) invited stakeholders/actors from the archipelago e.g. Skärgårdsstiftelsen, and Grinda Wärdshus (among others), to give input and present specific issues.
b) participated in the general events of Futureperfect
c) worked on a designed proposal, based on what we learned.

Review of 2013 Summer Xskool