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PATZAIKIN x Lola Lely residency – Circular Catalysts 2023

Their collaboration in the Circular Cultures’ British Council programme’s context started from the similarities in Lola Lely’s and PATZAIKIN team’s philosophy and work approach.

During their week together, the new partners got the opportunity to extend their discussions from the potential of local practices mixed with sustainable design to working with communities, local infrastructure, sharing knowledge and crafts, creating sustainable contexts for the benefit of small manufacturers, artisans, local designers & communities.


Designer Lola Lely’s working philosophy and values match perfectly with PATZAIKIN eco-design brand & the Romania – Creative Traditions Network visions:

  • integrating local crafts with innovative & smart use of natural resources, empowering artisans, creating circularity & sustainability for local economies through intelligent design of products and processes
  • getting inspiration from nature and the archaic local cultural practices in an attempt to retell old stories that are proving more and more relevant for contemporary people and life
  • research fundaments the projects, including ethno-anthropological studies, in order to meet the needs of communities through the capitalization of local natural & cultural heritage
  • multi- & interdisciplinary approach, collaborating with complementary experts
  • experimenting with a diversity of natural materials in sustainable, creative, aesthetic & efficient design, that can respond to contemporary needs & market demands
  • generating contexts and instruments to value crafts x design in the creation of circular economy design and production models


PATZAIKIN is a design and eco-technologies brand that has created, in close collaboration with designers, artists, artisans, architects, engineers, and other experts in relevant connected areas, collections of smart products ranging from pottery to textiles and even to large sized wooden boats for competitions or slow tourism.

The team is focused on the development of communities, creating contexts and tools that value local resources, through projects that combine: public events, such as sports competitions, cultural events like festivals, or art exhibitions, communication, through digital and offline tools, alternative education methods, and expertise.

Lola Lely

Lola Lely is an artist, designer, and maker based in Walthamstow, East London. Studio in Hackney. Lola’s work is process and narrative-based and the outcomes may take the form of an event rather than just a product: a resting point rather than an end point. She practices craft in fresh and unexpected ways by linking contemporary practices and technology with age-old techniques.

Storytelling, heritage, and a respect for craft are important elements of her work. Lola enjoys working in interdisciplinary environments where new ideas are forged and knowledge is exchanged. Collaboration is a strong feature of her work. Lely approaches design with the same sense of adventure as her travels.


The creative residency was organized in April 2023, and included three main distinct components:

  • 21-23 of April – Mila 23 – experiencing the local culture of the Danube Delta – discovering the inspiration for the creativity born around the PATZAIKIN brand
  • 24-26 of April – Bucharest – interacting with the PATZAIKIN ecosystem of experts, collaborating artists and architects – in the design of the exhibition content dedicated to Ivan Patzaichin
  • April 26 – Lola Lely meeting the Creative Traditions Network – live debate & media interviews


April, 20 – the first day of the residency

Objectives – Lola Lely arriving in Bucharest. Visiting the PATZAIKIN Bucharest headquarters & insights into the residency’s atmosphere.

First contact with the PATZAIKIN creative ecosystem and discussions starting from the context born around Ivan Patzaichin, his love for people and nature, and information on the projects he generated.

April, 21-23 – Danube Delta

Objectives – slow visiting Danube Delta biosphere, meeting local communities representatives, catching a glimpse of local culture, crafting, resources & inspiration; immersing for two whole days in the culture of the Lipovans, living in Mila 23 village, Ivan Patzaichin’s birthplace, a genuine local community that sacredly preserves its traditions, customs, crafts and respect for the surrounding nature.

As part of the PATZAIKIN’s one-week residency with UK-based designer Lola Lely, they explored & got inspired along the water & land routes of the Danube Delta, through the splendid natural scenery & peculiar biodiversity. They visited several villages with specific cultural practices, local gastronomy, architecture, and lifestyle, all bound together & developed in perfect harmony with the surroundings and resources put at their disposal by Mother Nature.

All of the residency team’s gratitude goes towards the local families and households in Mila 23, Letea, Sfiștofca & Caraorman villages for enriching their Deltaic experience. Special thanks to Lucica Buhaev, her daughters & the women of the local choir Rusalka – they absolutely delighted them acoustically. Thank you goes to @lotca_lui_barbaneagra for amazing water expeditions. Ivan Pescar Tulcea Restaurant provided the team with fish borscht great as always!

We invite you to watch a video teaser with flashbacks of the residency’s Delta trip.

Congrats, residency team! @ioana.cirlig, @andrewglass, @lola_lely, @teodorfrolu, @patzaikin

The Romanian National Press Agency AGERPRES launched a report signed by the journalist Luisiana Bigea, who interviewed Lola Lely, Teodor Frolu (PATZAIKIN) and Andrew Glass (director of the British Council Romania) right at the end of their expedition in the Danube Delta. We invite you to read the material here.
April, 24 – 26 – Bucharest

Objectives – As the PATZAIKIN projects mainly developed in the Danube Delta, the visit during the residency is relevant for Lola’s presence at the creative workshop that precedes the exhibition multi-media documentary art exhibition presenting the cultural heritage generated by & around IVAN.

During April, 24 – 26, PATZAIKIN x Lola Lely residency headquarters moved from the heart of the Danube Delta in the middle of Bucharest, to the Contemporary Art Space in Malmaison, where they interacted with a multidisciplinary team. including members of Romania – Creative Traditions network, in the design & conceptualization of an exhibit dedicated to the heritage generated by Ivan Patzaichin and his team  – cultural/artistic/educational/societal projects, to be curated and presented from a contemporary artistic point of view.

Lola Lely met PATZAIKIN ecosystem’s representatives and exchanged ideas, approaches & know-how. Her involvement brought fresh perspectives on what Ivan Patzaichin, Teodor Frolu, and the team developed during the last 12 years, starting from their shared work philosophy.

At the end of the workshop, Lola Lely & Teodor Frolu visited Dan Vezentan’s studio in MalMaison, one of the artists in the PATZAIKIN ecosystem.

The fundament of the 2023 exhibition presented by the PATZAIKIN team, during May-August 2023 at the Romanian National Peasant Museum, in the loving memory of Ivan Patzaichin, is to invite the audience to explore, in an artistic and contemporary manner, good practice examples from Ivan Patzaichin’s life and projects in which elements of local culture, natural heritage and the potential of locals become viable resources for truly sustainable development of places & communities.

The results of the workshop will be presented during the “Patrimoniul lui Ivan / Ivan Patzaichin’s Heritage” contemporary art exhibition, presented at The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, in May-August, as part of Romanian Design Week 2023.

April, 26 – the last day of the residency

Objectives –  a debate organized by the Creative Traditions Network on April 26, during the last day of creative residency held by PATZAIKIN & Lola Lely, networking and media interviews.

Teodor Frolu (co-founder of Creative Traditions Network and Rowmania / PATZAIKIN), Cristiana Tăutu (head of arts British Council Romania) and Maria Neneciu (The Institute / Romanian Design Week), together with Lola Lely, British artist and designer, discussed the potential of contemporary recovery of archaic traditions and practices of working with natural materials, in innovative and non-invasive ways towards nature for the creative, strategic and sustainable development of local communities.

The debate came as a conclusion of the visit PATZAIKIN team made with Lola to the Danube Delta & in the context of the creative workshop at Malmaison that precedes the contemporary art exhibition “Patrimoniul lui Ivan” (Ivan Patzaichin’s Heritage), presented at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, in May-August 2023, as part of Romanian Design Week.

Lola Lely shared her thoughts on the experience of the residency & her vision and know-how in working with old techniques and natural materials in projects of recovery and innovative capitalization on traditional practices, through contemporary design, for the development of local communities.


During the debate, the speakers were accompanied by partners in the Creative Traditions network, representatives of British Council Romania, Romanian Design Week, Nod Makerspace. Video production: Emi Gheorghe.

The event was organized at Moxy Bucharest Old Town in the context of the PATZAIKIN x Lola Lely residency, held from April 20 to 27 in Circular Catalysts – Circular Cultures, a program for intercultural exchanges initiated by the British Council Romania in partnership with the Romanian Cultural Institute, The Institute, Romanian Design Week and Creative Traditions Network.

We invite you to listen to an interview carried out by the Bucharest FM team at the end of the debate between Lola Lely and representatives of the Creative Traditions community:

After the debate, right before the final meeting with the creative workshop team gathered at SAC – Malmaison for the creation of the exhibition dedicated to Ivan and his projects, Lola Lely visited the Black Rhino Radio studios and had a conversation with RDW Talks host Mihai Gurei about her thoughts on the development of the residency, the Danube Delta visit, the workshop where she interacted with PATZAIKIN‘s ecosystem and the exhibition that will follow, during the Romanian Design Week.


Circular Catalysts, the documentary art exhibition, will be showcased during Romanian Design Week 2023, May, 12-18. The exhibition features objects, texts, sound, and captivating photographs captured by fotodocumentary artist Ioana Cîrlig during the five creative residencies where contemporary UK artisans were hosted by local organizations working with traditional craftspeople in rural Romania. During the exhibit period, Circular Catalysts will also feature a series of community engagement activities: workshops, podcasts, and meetings, sparking conversations around traditional knowledge systems and community practices with a role in creation and sustainability.

Through interdisciplinary design and collaboration, the program, initiated by the British Council Romania and supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute, The Institute, Romanian Design Week & Romania – Creative Traditions Network, explores the intersections of rural and urban life and the potential of craft practices in individual and community well-being. The program promotes the exchange of skills and knowledge between the UK, Romania, and Europe, as part of the British Council’s response to global issues, specifically addressing the climate emergency.

See you soon at RDW, during the Circular Catalysts exhibition, where you will find out more from the PATZAIKIN x Lola Lely residency

Circular Catalysts

Circular Catalysts is part of Circular Cultures, a multidisciplinary regional programme of the British Council which aims to promote dialogue around circular design, exploring topics such as climate change, material waste, and creative cultures. In Romania, Circular Catalysts explores the interconnection and isolation of rural, urban, and social systems in a local and global context. The program activates different types of actors, essential for the development of placemaking processes, in a sustainable manner.

Creative Traditions

Some of the host organizations participating in the program are also active members of the Romania – Creative Traditions network. We invite you to discover them in the dedicated pages of

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