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Open Call – Double Agent: Do You Speak Flower?


Open Call – Double Agent
Do You Speak Flower?

31 January till 1 March 2024

The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO)
in collaboration with the Centre for Creativity is launching an Open Call for participation in Double Agent – the 28th Biennial of Design, curated by Alexandra Midal

Political, bold, vibrant, and provocative, Double Agent: Do You Speak Flower? examines the figure of floriography, a code hidden within flowers to transmit secret information. The exhibition draws on critical theory to define self-identification as an aesthetic and political act that resonates with vanquished, marginalized, forgotten, or invisible minorities. Given that flowers represent both the commodification of women into an idealized beauty paradigm and serve as a feminist, anti-colonial, gender, and queer cryptology, the title Double Agent reflects this dual perspective. The Biennial displays an ongoing investigation that questions the role of the exhibition to provide answers, and instead wishes to open a series of conversations with designers, artists, and the public. 

The Double Agent’s production platform ensures that BIO is a living design organism responding to the needs of society and the design field. This year, we will develop projects aimed at intertwining diverse media and disciplines such as design, craft, applied arts, and films into processes and results that contribute to the theme and deliver a renewed perspective on design. 

Selected participants will address the topics of materiality, language, design as a public tool, marginalised communities and film, together with eight esteemed designers who will lead the groups as mentors until the exhibition presentation. 

BIO28 Double Agent mentors are matali crasset, dach&zephir, El Último Grito, Polonca Lovšin and Studio Yukiko in collaboration with Grashina Gabelmann.


Who are we inviting?

The Open Call invites local and regional design and interdisciplinary collectives to participate in the Double Agent production platform in one of the five project themes of the BIO28 and the Centre for Creativity production platform.

We are looking for established collectives, teams, or newly-formed project groups who are able to participate online and on site in the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana from March 2024 until November 2024.

BIO28 amplifies the biennial’s strategy to reflect on and deepen inquiries into the future, while strengthening local impacts. The emphasis will be on design that responds to local needs and contexts, the projects will draw on local conditions, resources and materials. 

Applicants will be selected and invited by BIO28 curator Alexandra Midal in collaboration with the mentors and the advisory board of BIO28. The teams selected from the Open Call will each work with a design mentor and various local organisations, partners and experts.

The OPEN CALL invites you to participate in the Double Agent production platform by addressing one of the following themes: 

1. Beeswax Studio and Grotto

One collective will participate in the The Beeswax Studio and Grotto platform led by matali crasset. matali crasset has championed design at the crossroads of artistic, anthropological and social practice. She is working towards creative, living and everyday design and asking herself how can design contribute to living together and support us in the contemporary world? 

After creating one of the most successful spatial installations Common stove for 25th edition of the biennial Faraway So Close, the participation of the local community echoes into this production platform. 

This production platform revisits an ancestral practice in a different way, so as to reinvest our sensibility and allow us to reconfigure ourselves. Beekeeping, which is a Slovenian way of life and a major activity in the country, can help to establish a process that is more respectful and less destructive to our ecosystem. Building on this foundation, and using honey-producing flowers as a starting point, Beeswax Studio and Grotto proposes to focus not on honey, but on beeswax. This natural substance says a lot about our contemporary world: it has to stand up to stiff competition from industrial waxes made from soya (the bean), palm oil and paraffin (via petroleum). Beeswax is obviously the most natural, and it transcends the dividing lines between the plant and animal worlds, raising questions about our own place within the living world. So what remains to be explored is the place, if any, that human beings might occupy within it. 

The Beeswax Studio and Grotto platform will consist of a wax workshop that will host research focused on beeswax, exploring natural dyeing using local plants and minerals, the creation of low-cost molds, and the manufacturing of modeling wax, as well as waterproofing textiles and wood. During the upcoming BIO28, a series of public workshops will take place where participants will engage in collaborative experimentation with wax.

The multidisciplinary design team may include: 
product and object designers, art / architecture / design historians, textile designers (specialised in natural dyes), beekeepers, botanists, carpenters, woodworkers, ecologists, flower experts, children's educators, ecotourism experts.

How it works: The platform will consist of three 3-day workshops (May, September, October 2024) and a series of public events.


matali crasset (photo: Julien Jouanjus).

⁠2. Not Erased

We’re inviting a team to participate in the Not Erased project together with mentors dach&zephir. Graduates of the National School of Decorative Arts of Paris, Dimitri Zephir and Florian Dach founded their creative studio dach&zephir in 2016. Mixing fervor and poetry, their projects echo the thinking of Martinican poet Édouard Glissant and celebrate the urgent and necessary diversity of the world. For the duo, stories and history are starting points in design, acknowledging that objects are mediums for our minds. They believe in the statement that we can’t move forward without acknowledging the past and history.

The production platform Not Erased is a continuation of the studio's reflections on marginalised, minorityized, or erased histories in national narratives and the ways in which they can be reactivated in a contemporary creative dynamic. Conceived as a research and creation unit on the subject of Slovenia's erased people - a group of communities from the former Yugoslavia residing in the country without citizenship rights because they have been erased from Slovene administrative files - the participants will be invited to reflect on the potential manifestations, reactivations, and/or reinscriptions of these individuals and their histories in a national narrative. The aim of the platform will be to form different narratives or backdrops for the creation of one or more works in lace. 

How do you tell the story of a lifetime of fractures and struggles in the creation of a motif? How do you represent the loss and erasure of a nationality? What can these other identities – in terms of their cultures and imaginations – bring to the creation of a motif? In other words, what are the modalities of lacemaking and its motif? Bobbin lacemaking – an ancestral skill in Slovenia and a Unesco intangible cultural heritage site – becomes the setting for these fragile stories and identities. Using this know-how, which is rooted in the country's culture and imagination, the aim is to reflect on how the stories of the erased are inscribed in the collective imagination, and possibly on new ways of creating motifs. The various trades will form multi-disciplinary work teams coordinated by a lace-maker.

The multidisciplinary design team may include: product designers, graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, artists, lace designers, lace makers, activists and experts for the erased.

How it works: The platform will consist of a one-week workshop (end of March 2024), remote work, and a final on-site workshop (late August 2024).


dach&zephir (photo: Andres Baron).

3. “And then there was Poppy”: Interlacing place and fiction into new creative geographies

We invite a collective who will develop a project under the mentorship of Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado from the collective El Último Grito. Roberto Feo is Professor of Practice at Goldsmiths, University of London, while Rosario Hurtado co-directs the MA Space and Communication at HEAD – Genève. Their practice responds to an ongoing investigation into the nature and representation of systems. 

The aim of this production platform is to create a short film about floriography and the themes of the Double Agent biennial that will simultaneously replace the exhibition catalogue. The film will act as a remnant of the event, a collection of intertwined actions, moments, sights, triggers, and keepsakes inspired by elements from the curatorial texts as well as selected works and the biennial site itself. The film will premiere in Ljubljana, London, Geneva, and Paris. Eventually, the film will be streamed online.

Stories do not have a beginning or an end… not really… they seem to start somewhere and end somewhere else… but not really…. Stories have a protagonist… but not really… stories are just mere adulterated perspectives, a result of “mythification”, an essential simplification required to comprehend reality.

Alpha 60 explains, in its guttural computerised voice, that “reality is far too complex for oral transmission”, so we must create myths/stories that simplify its content for us to understand. The Goddard mastermind imparting some ‘Borgesian’ wisdom.

This story is no different. It does not really start here and will, actually, never end… it’s just a moment in time narrated from a singular perspective… which will eventually stop being interesting or relevant for a narrator to tell or an audience to listen to.

- El Último Grito, 2024

The multidisciplinary design team may include: actors and performers, designers (props and space), filmmakers, sound engineers, musicians, storytellers, scriptwriters, anyone with a passion or enthusiasm for film.

How it works: The film-fiction will be produced during two consecutive workshops (September and November 2024), first developing the narrative, then shooting the film on the site of the biennial.


⁠El Último Grito: Rosario Hurtado and Roberto Feo.

4. Movement for Public Speech

We invite you to join the platform Movement for Public Speech* mentored by Polonca Lovšin. Polonca Lovšin is an architect and artist based in Ljubljana. In her work, she focuses on self-organized initiatives and alternative ways of living and working related to architecture, urban planning, and environmental issues. She is exhibiting her work internationally in solo and group exhibitions and has been awarded numerous grants, awards and residencies.

Movement for Public Speech is a sculpture in public space, a monument to public speaking and participation. By definition, public speaking is the discussion of people in a public space about important issues in society. This project challenges the relationship between the audience and the speaker and portrays this relationship as interdependent. The speaker's speech can only be heard over the sound system if he is supported by the audience, who synchronously press, pull, or step on the manufactured devices. The foundation of this project is the collaboration of two different roles – those who move to support the speaker and the speakers themselves. The common goal of the "movement" is to visualize the interdependence of all involved, who support each other and build alliances – a community. 

Today, in times of crises (economic, political, social, and environmental), it is essential to speak in public about the issues of human society, which are often overlooked, forgotten, or insufficiently present in public discourse. It is equally important that we listen to them and hear them. The project, which is playful and serious at the same time, demonstrates the importance of cooperation and interdependence to achieve a common goal and thereby create a vision of a different society.

The Venus flytrap, a carnivorous plant that sets a trap to surprise and eat the fly, serves as the intellectual and design framework for the BIO28 edition of Movement for Public Speech. Are we humans caught in a trap of our own making? Maybe we can resolve the trap by supporting and listening to each other, creating friendships, building communities, and creating a vision of an entangled future.

*The Movement for Public Speech is an ongoing project by architect and artist Polonca Lovšin, which was first installed in 2015 on Liberty Square in Maribor as part of the Maribor Art Gallery’s art in public space program. Since then, it has been performed six times in different cities (Maribor, Kočevje, Ljubljana, Feldbach (Austria), Strasbourg (France)), activating different audiences through collective action and building new communities.

The multidisciplinary design team may include: designers, architects, spatial practitioners, actors, philosophers, poets, writers, dancers, theatre enthusiasts, artists focused on public space, participation or sound.

How it works: The platform will consist of four workshops (April – May 2024), on-site implementation of the project, and a public programme during the biennial.

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⁠Polonca Lovšin (photo: Dejan Habicht).

5. Cattleya

We invite a collective who will develop a project under the mentorship of Michelle Phillips (Studio Yukiko) and Grashina Gabelmann (Flaneur Magazine). Studio Yukiko is a Berlin-based creative agency specializing in creative direction, art direction, brand strategy, concept generation and graphic design for commercial and cultural clients alike. The studio is producing award-winning work, unearthing narratives, telling stories of local communities worldwide, and immersing themselves in the trends of internet and youth culture. Grashina Gabelmann is a founding member and editor-in-chief of the site specific, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary project called Flaneur Magazine. She works as a writer and translator. Her creative practices also involve listening as an act of care, giving political/creative workshops to kids, teenagers, and the elderly, and collecting stories in different communities.

The production platform Cattleya invites you to deconstruct the androcentric correlation of the female-as-flower. The name of this project is a glimpse into Marcel Proust's famous concept of cattleya (referring both to “making love” as well as the Cattleya orchid flower) from his opera In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. The participants will reinterpret the mundane patriarchal idioms associating women to flowers by examining the rich connections between language and image that are pervasive in Slovene poetry, literature, the arts, advertising, and elsewhere as well. Therefore, it will question, criticize, and reformulate these relationships into a series of provocative and bold visual productions. Through zines, posters, and other manifestations of graphic design, the participants will focus on idiomatic expressions related to the comparison between women and flowers, thus visually exploring the cultural significance of these expressions.

The multidisciplinary design team may include: Graphic designers, illustrators, writers, poets, linguists, photographers, botanists, historians.

How it works: The platform will consist of a one week workshop after the kick off event (March 2024), followed by remote work. 

MICHELLE PHILLIPS ET Grashina Gabelmann.jpg

⁠Left: Michelle Phillips from Studio Yukiko. Right: Grashina Gabelmann (photo: Mario Heller).




Alexandra Midal, BIO28 curator
Emma Pflieger, BIO28 assistant curator
Michelle Millar Fisher, BIO28 Advisory Board member
Barbara Predan, BIO28 Advisory Board member
Oli Stratford, BIO28 Advisory Board member
Renata Salecl, BIO28 Advisory Board member
Maja Vardjan, Acting Director of MAO – Museum of Architecture and Design
Anja Zorko, Head of the Centre for Creativity
Hana Čeferin, Head of BIO


31 January 2024 – 1 March 2024 
Duration of the BIO28 Double Agent Open Call

12 – 13 March 2024 
Selection process, online meetings with the participants

23 – 25 March 2024 
Kick-off event on video platforms with Alexandra Midal, mentors and participants of the production platforms

April 2024 – September 2024
Production process

21 November 2024
Opening of the BIO28 Double Agent.

Selection procedure

Applicants should apply to the call through this form. From among the proposals submitted on time and in full, the jury will select the teams for the BIO28 Production Platforms in a two-stage procedure:

Stage 1: review of the proposals received and shortlisting;
Stage 2: interview with the applicants selected in the first stage and final selection of the projects.


By responding to the call, participants agree to the procedure and conditions of the call. Participation is open to groups consisting of members who are Slovenian citizens, residents, or based in Slovenia and active in the fields of design, art, architecture, and other fields mentioned in the descriptions of the platforms. The selected teams must appoint a member or team leader who will be in charge of workflow, timeline, budget oversight, spending, and reporting. The person will also be the main contact for the BIO and CzK teams. The applicants are committed to carrying out the project within the agreed timetable and budget and to participating in regular meetings with the BIO team.

Answers to questions

Questions about the call can be sent to until 25 February, 2024, inclusive. Please indicate "BIO28: Open Call" as the subject of your message.

Selection criteria

- originality and topicality of the application
- clarity and comprehensiveness of the application
- relevance to the theme of the chosen production platform

Budget for the implementation of the production platforms

The groups will be allocated funds to carry out the project and should be able to invoice the organiser. The funds will include the production costs of the platform deliverables and the costs of the exhibition and printed materials, as well as costs related to work, promotion, and full implementation of the project. 

The Biennial of Design will not reimburse travel costs or provide basic accommodation. Participants of the selected teams are required to handle any other arrangements than those provided by the biennial at their own expense and within their own organisation. 

Notification of the selection

All applicants will be informed in writing of their selection at the end of the procedure (until 13 March). The selection decision is final.


Proposers of a selected project are required to implement it in cooperation with the CzK and BIO teams, who will certify the stages of development and implementation of the project. The detailed roles, rights and responsibilities will be defined in an agreement to be drawn up within one month of the announcement of the selected group, depending on the project selected.


The official languages of the Open Call for Participation for the selection of the production platforms are English and Slovene. All printed and digital material (catalogue, leaflets, accompanying texts at the exhibition) must be in Slovene and English. Due to the international jury, the applications should be submitted in English.


To view frequently asked questions, click here.

The project is part of the Center for Creativity program, which is co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Slovenia.

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