These designs were undoubtedly impactful and leveraged Estonia’s image in a clever way, and the Creative Hub left an astonishingly attractive impression on our foreign colleagues. In Brussels, on the other hand, the Presidency's areas were just familiar and dear to me. I used the meeting corner designed like a sauna (where the aroma of a smoke sauna could be detected) with great pleasure and I still miss it now. Kaja Tael, Estonian Ambassador to the EU
The entire concept of the image of the Estonian Presidency was based on the same design language as the Estonian 100th anniversary relying on the Nordic qualities, closeness to nature and digital issues and the focal point of all this was the interior design of the Creative Hub. Estonian design, digital art, food, digital solutions and plants in the industrial environment certainly had a strong wow effect.
The icing on the cake as well as the greatest challenge for us was the organisation of Tallinn Digital Summit accompanied by entirely different scale and requirements for the programme, security, logistics and also the venue, so we wish to thank the interior designers for their excellent cooperation. In the international media coverage, the event will be remembered by the photograph by Annika Haas featuring Mrs Merkel gesturing across the field of sunflowers. Piret Lilleväli and Klen Jäärats, the organisers of the Presidency at the Government Office
THE IDEA OF THE PROJECT WAS TO CREATE a non-traditional, startup-style workspace, imbued with cool and freedom, constantly recreating itself like a pop-up store, and adjusting to changing needs. The competition brief frequently mentioned the keywords “nature” and “e-state”.
THE BIGGEST INSPIRATION was the industrial architecture of the Tallinn Creative Hub. It was important to surprise the Brussels crowd and to draw attention to Estonia’s identity as an EU member state. From the first steps, we were in close dialogue with the organizing team.
THE INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION at the Creative Hub and at the Europa Building in Brussels was a digital artwork that let the viewers intervene in the powers of nature – to catch a virtual gust of wind, to float among the squalls at the Ristna peninsula, or to try to send a tornado at Angela Merkel as she passes by. When there were no visitors, the flow continued on screen, matching the current wind speed measured at the Ristna peninsula. The interactive shaped light-ceiling, digital screen wall, and light-fabric courtesy of textile designers worked together to create a particular spatial whole. At the Creative Hub, we wanted to use the lighting to highlight the building’s remarkable space. The most impactful thing was the Black Box – a dark projection room that had to be adapted into a pleasant working environment using both lighting and furnishings. These needed to be altered daily, based on etiquette and practical use.
AS THIS WAS a very high-security event, we needed to account for all manner of unusual factors, such as bomb-sniffing dogs at night, unexpected police visits, time limits, complex logistics, etc. Our own favourite spots, the light sauna in Brussels and the greenhouse smoking room in the courtyard of the Creative Hub, became awesome meeting spots, often used for important one-on-one conversations.
MATERIALS – the interior and exterior spaces used roundpole fence and shrubbery motifs for installation environments, along with rust-colour steel surfaces and functional Estonian design. Instead of traditional flower arrangements, there were barrels full of local vegetables – beets, potatoes, cucumbers, etc. – a wonderful nuance in an industrial interior. During the Digital Summit, when the heads of the 27 member states were in attendance to discuss the blossoming of the digital economy, the floor of the Black Box was covered by a field of sunflowers: Holland’s entire supply of them was diverted to Estonia.
THE ESTONIAN PUBLIC watched Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May with interest. Merkel’s advisor paid an advance visit to review the spatial solution of the Digital Summit, to select her clothes accordingly. But the heads of state moved about everywhere, and on the live broadcast, we watched with bated breath as Merkel napped on a fragile folding chair in the press tent.