Artistic darning of the city

Artistic darning of the city
For Care - in research of a new ethical aproach for city space design.

Iwona Kalenik
Warsaw, Poland
I am researcher, architect, working on Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, exploring the potential of an ethical approach to design.
Field of work
Architecture, Urban planning, Research, Other
Project category
Project submitted

I explore the potential of adapting the ideas of ethics of care and aesthetics of everyday life to the design process and interpretation of architecture; I develop the idea of care in architecture; I am advancing my own research on the artistic darning of the city in areas of ruptures (seams and sutures) in the urban fabric; I am creating a framework for a new radical design practice based on the ethic of care and the city-textile analogy. My activities focus on developing the theory of Architecture of Care, and the design attempts I make are the result of experimental, artistic research.

I am graduate of the Lodz University of Technology (2003) and the Postgraduate Study in Design „architecture + dialogue” (2006) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, where I also defended my doctoral thesis (2018) under the supervision of prof. Jacek Dominiczak. The main thesis in the dissertation was the one about the potential of emanation of closeness(now I would name it - care), which is in the architecture in the areas of urban seams and sutures. I discussed the concept of closeness as an essential part of dialogue and its possible supplementation with the idea of ethics of care.

I work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw at the Faculty of Interior Design.


-Beneficiary of an artistic scholarship from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (2015, 2020) and the author of publications on city architecture.

-Co-author (with Agnieszka Kacprzak) of the „reserved project” in the competition for the curatorial design of the exhibition in the Polish Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice in 2023. The title of our project was "The Place of Care".

-Individual exhibition in at the Dialogue Center M.Edelman in Łódź as part of the Łódź of Four Cultures Festival 2023 - "Tablecloths from Lodz. Embroidering patterns, telling stories."

"Artistic darning of the city" is my theoretical concept. I started to develope this idea in my Phd thesis by describing framework of larger method. It was based on three layers: fenomenological, geometrical research of architecture of the city as a base of knowing nuances of city „material”, describing identity of spatial code; research of reparative philosophies and existing darning practical methods as the most accurate for „textile-city” analogy; proposal of artistic darning of a city(Lodz, Poland) in it's breaks and space-wounds. It was deeply founded in questions of ethics of care and feminist aproach.
I used analogy „textile – city” as, in my opinion, the most accurate and inspiring and also because my personal, family background of being grand-daughter of two tailors. I have always looked at depreciated, feminine handicrafts with tenderness and a certain kind of emotion. The most successful moment in my research was finding interesting interpretations of different darning techniques and using them to describe and interprete city space, like „street-baste”: street related to one layout, that appears in a distant area of another layout, thus tying the two systems together.

Artistic darning, visible and giving new value to damaged knitted fabric, may become methodology used in thinking about repairing city space, reconnecting separated or torn neighbourhoods. Artistic darning requires careful, deep research, involvment and slow, responsibe examination of every thread. It may become beautiful „mark” which is emanation of closness, care and tenderness. Analogous comparison allows to build more colorful and interesting images of the cities. Final proposal fo Lodz's space was good trial of my research. As a method it can be used in architectural space, on a local scale, taking care about torn, forgotten and unattractive places. I would like to develope this idea, examinate this method in other cities and propose solutions of artistic darning of their space.