Graphic design by «Rijada», Kristaps Grundšteins, «Darva»

The exhibition «Old Age» has kicked off a wonderful design project, dedicated to a healthy lifestyle in the city for all ages — «Long Walk».

Stories Evelīna Ozola April 14, 2014

«Garā pastaiga», which means «Long Walk» in Latvian, consists of three design projects: «Vecumdienas» or «Old Age», «Vingrotava» or «Gymnasium», and «Kidsroomzoom». Each of them is dedicated to a different stage of life — elderhood, maturity and childhood —, but all of them are trying to raise awareness of the role of design in improving the quality of life. Authors of the project believe that public space strongly influences lifestyle choices and that the design of it can change trajectories of social processes. «Long Walk» invites everyone to think about the arrangement and use of their closest surroundings.

The exhibition «Old Age», which opened on April 5, stands out in the Latvian design scene — it doesn’t display the looks or prices of finished products, but provokes thought, discussion and action. Authors of the project speak of serious, even slightly depressing themes — design problems of public and private spaces, the need to take care of one’s health and the inevitably ageing society —, but does it with lightness, wit and bright colours. A healthy lifestyle and adjustments of urban spaces for the needs of seniors are on the agendas of designers worldwide. We are going to address it too in the summer school «Get Well City», organised by FOLD.

I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for such exhibition for quite a while, and it didn’t leave me disappointed. I’ve always stood up against the dull technical language, in which public space design is described in Latvia: «This project cost so and so many thousands to the Riga City Council, and so and so many kilometres of asphalted pathways were built.» As it turns out, statistics can be illustrated with facades of the Opera house and piles of euro coins, but the movement’s symbol can be a banana — nature’s joyful design object, the properties of which strengthens heart, digestive system and bones.

The project is accompanied by a printed issue — Riga design and lifestyle zine «Long Walk». Such publications are not common in Latvia, in fact, many reasonable exhibitions don’t even make it to a printed catalog, and definitely not a website. Although I usually don’t collect booklets and leaflets, I took this one, as I though it may turn out to be a rarity later on. Besides, the centrefold is a bright yellow poster.

I believe that «Long Walk» is a movement to be reckoned with. Very soon it is going to leave a permanent mark on several neighbourhoods of Riga — the exercise bar system «Gymnasium». First one of them — in Sarkandaugava, and I’ve heard that more will follow.

Exhibition «Old Age»

Open until April 30 in Riga, Z.A. Meierovica bulvaris 6. Free entry.

«Gymnasium»

Gymnastics grounds in neighbourhoods of Riga, nearest opening on May 1 at 15.00 in Alekša square in Sarkandaugava.

Exhibition «Kidsroomzoom»

October 1–31 in an apartment in Riga. Information will follow.

Authors of the «Long Walk» project

Kristaps Grundšteins, design studios «Rijada» and «Design Catering», studio «Darva», Paola Noe, Thomas Maitz, and many others. «Long Walk» is a part of the «Riga — European Capital of Culture 2014» programme. More information on the «Long Walk» website.