During July and August, AIR Træna was hosting the Armenian architect Arusyak Manvelyan. Currently she lives in Berlin where she works as an architect. The main idea of her project was to build a common outdoor space where people could meet occasionally and enjoy the beautiful nature the island has to offer. It’s been a hectic month for her, so we interviewed her just before she was leaving.
Aloha Arus, what have you done here in Træna?
I have spent around one month in Træna building urban furniture for the community. The aim of the project was to create outdoor spaces where people could meet. The whole project was around the concept of having movable structures with sustainable use of materials. After receiving pallets from the community I started redesigning the original project proposal. The given size of the pallets and materiality guided me through the design development of the furniture. Together with my boyfriend we spent many days trying out possible solutions, building and rebuilding different structures until we found the right way of moving forward. The whole process of the project was very motivating. With the help of local people I could bring the project to its accomplishment and place the furniture around the island.
What happens with the project now? What is your wish?
The project is divided into two parts. One part is called “Chat box” and located on the sidewalk in front of the church. This is a place where locals can meet to talk around a warm cup of tea.
The second part of the project is called L+ZT. It is a group of different units resembling letters that can be combined in various ways to create benches. Currently it is located in the harbor area.
Ideally the two projects should roam around the city and be used for different events. They can be combined or separated in many possible ways, even painted and extended into something more.
What did you learn during your stay?
The whole stay in Træna was a constant process of learning. I learned about designing and building and how to use material to find forms. I learned how to ask for help and how to engage people in the project. I had a lot of time to think about personal life, values and many existential topics. This feels like a beginning of an exciting journey.
How was it to stay in Træna these weeks?
Træna was a very special place for me. The nature was really fascinating. I arrived during the period of white nights and the most beautiful midnight sun. The weather was playing a big role for me since I had to work outside. Together with ups and downs of the whole process I enjoyed being in Træna. I met other AIR Træna artists who were before and after me, local people and wonderful kids.
What are you going to do now? Where will we find you in the future?
I want to participate more in such projects. I really enjoy building for communities. As a next step I will go back to Berlin and try to get in touch with likeminded architects and artists. I also want to participate in the cultural scene in Armenia, maybe even organize similar Artist in Residency programs in the future.
If you could choose any person you know about, that you would send to Træna for an artist in residence, who would that be? And why?
I would send my Indonesian friend Nindya Nareswari, who is a light and product designer. She is working in Berlin in a big studio. She wishes to do an artist in residence in a Nordic country. I think she would be an excellent match for Træna, to light up the island during the dark periods in the winter.
Thank you Arus and hope to see you here again!
Aloha oi, until we meet again.
Follow Arus Manvelyan at instagram: @arus_manvelyan