The Medea Studio: “It was great. You should have been there!”

On March 12, 2010, the Medea Studio was inaugurated. More than 250 people celebrated the event in a completely empty room. Three months later, the Medea Studio had transformed into its current shape, built on the idea that researchers from different academic disciplines as well as external stakeholders from the business sector, cultural institutions, NGOs and individual citizens should be sitting and producing things together in a creative environment. In this post, project manager Karolina Rosenqvist tells the story of the Medea Studio.

This post was originally published in the Medea publication Prototyping Futures.

Getting there meant breaking new grounds. A studio for co-production of this calibre requires a flexible solution, which can handle everyday work, small and large meetings, exhibitions and events for hundreds of people. And it all needs to be facilitated in the very same room! It is no understatement to say that Medea did not fit into the university’s model of planning, furnishing and managing its facilities. We needed a completely different approach and technical infrastructure than what was available in the regular academic structure.

In addition, we wanted to work from a sustainability perspective. Did we really have to buy new furniture? Could we not instead have a recycling approach? To help us out, we hired Amanda Wickman (interview with Wickman on her work), a former student at the university, now working as a scenographer. In collaboration with Medea’s employees, she developed an idea of a studio where most things were on wheels. Together with our priceless janitor Ainar (Addi), I went on a tour to the university furniture storages. We found desks, bookcases and chairs that were no longer used. Amanda spent countless visits to second hand stores and garage sales, which resulted in beautiful rococo sofas, lamps in all forms and colours from the 60s, and antique cabinets. Seating surfaces were complemented by ergonomic pilates balls in different sizes, old cinema seats and a spacious orange couch no longer needed at the company Ericsson. The icing on the cake was a big hand made bar-desk on wheels – constructed so it could be reshaped in a variety of forms depending on needs and preferences. All together at a fraction of the price the university’s original furniture quote landed on.

Medea’s major studio has been a flagship of Malmö University for some years. Besides being a working space for co-production projects, it has also been a public space for talks, events, seminars and conferences – a venue for academics, industry representatives, artists and NGOs. Not to mention, from a media point of view,  those more prominent visitors such as the Minister of Education, Jan Björklund, and the Swedish Crown Princess couple Victoria and Daniel. To me, the Medea Studio has been a symbol of inclusion and an all-access feeling in the university’s relationship with its surrounding community. My goal is for each individual to leave Medea with a feeling which can best be described by a quote borrowed from Professor Lucy Suchman: “It was great. You should have been there!”

Karolina Rosenqvist, project manager at Medea