For humanization of technology

RUK is a network of research centers at the intersection of art, science and technology. In this interdisciplinary triangle, we are developing innovative products and services for the soft and humane technology of the future. The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund. More ...


Creatorship Experts Series: Gaja Mežnarić Osole

14.02.2022 16:45

Creatorship is a new creative leadership programme that empowers innovative, authentic, collaborative and resilient leaders. This series of articles shares key insights from experts in culture, design and business who have contributed to the programme content.

Liberating Creativity
Cracking the (eco)systems with feral plants

by Gaja Mežnarič Osole, Designer and co-founder of Trajna Association

To create means to evolve. To pioneer means to set up the conditions to ensure the continuation of life, to ensure other life forms have a space to thrive. Creations mostly happen when things crack. The crack is a necessary condition for the start of any pioneering work. This is what invasive and other feral plants do. They grow from cracks to create fertile soils and enable bees and butterflies to feast on their pollen. They transform a dead place into a place of vibrant abundance.

Artists in a way are just like feral plants. They set up conditions for life by imagining new ways of looking, hearing, relating, being in common - they evolve our perception, our attitudes to life. They create humus, while thriving on the cracks.

At Krater, both worlds collide.

In this abandoned construction site in Ljubljana, life runs on plants and imagination. At Krater, both weeds and creatives share the destiny and the struggle to act as a persistent force of possibility. Behind the fences, this patch of spontaneous nature invites us to make, work, move, think and feel together with the land and each other. Krater invites us to learn the skills of self-organization, self-provisioning and making and gain situated knowledge about local ecology or herbalism. What’s more, novel ecosystems, such as Krater, offer us many examples of how to co-design climate-resistant nature reserves in urban environments that can improve livelihoods not only for humans but also of other earth beings.

For artists, permaculture practitioners, designers and others, Krater is a collective and meticulous work of learning from plant life. Taking the regenerative capacities of invasive species as its inspiration, Krater is set to produce environmentally conscious materials, practices and alliances which invite urban communities to open their eyes to the land and each other anew. As a terraforming agency, it invites us to reimagine wastelands as inspiring gardens of human-plant companionships, working together towards building more interconnected futures.

Krater is a project and a practice of composting anthropocentric perceptions of what it means to work, live and earn, while cultivating the space for difficult questions.

How can we liberate creativity from a struggle for survival into a joyful act of care?

Here are some firsthand tips and questions to support your actions!

1. Act like a rhizome. Rhizome is a root system that contains nodes from which roots and shoots originate, it has no end or beginning. If you act as a rhizome, you diversify resource flows, ideas and participants to create multiple nodes of possibilities. When separated each node, has a chance of producing a new pathway!
2. Become a pioneer, seek for cracks! In times of disturbance, rupture, scarcity, seek for openings! Like feral plants find the niches to assure the continuation of life, seek for opportunities to plant new ways of doing and thinking. A crisis is always an opportunity to do things differently. Ask yourself, what else is possible?
3. Make allies with other earth beings. At Krater we are aware that invasive plants enable the livelihoods of our collective endeavours. They support us in initiating projects, products and conversations through which we learn, earn and spread. Which more-than-human companion would you imagine partnering with in your projects? Which other earth being can become your companion species to nest the web of interdependence?
4. Create humus. For plants waste is an unexisting phenomena. From their bolily residues, for example, they create humus, which enables other bodies to thrive. How can your creative work act as a tool for nurturing human or other life forms? What kind of surplus has been generated through your practice that can be shared with others?
5. Be invasive! Invasive plants are amazing at creating strategies which allow them to thrive even at incredibly hard and ever changing conditions. They produce abundant seed banks, cover themselves in spikes or create chemical compounds that prevent them from being eaten. What kind of features for cultivating persistence can you think of in order to protect yourself from becoming exhausted and unmotivated to continue your creative practice?
6. Camouflage. Create communication strategies in which you can push your ideas in various contexts. Camouflage your proposals into words and examples that resonate with the community you want to speak to or persuade. In this manner you can open up doors that would be otherwise shut!
7. Blossom every once in a while. Attract attention by exhibiting a beautiful experience of your work. Play with colors, shapes, structures, materials, smells and design a feast for the eyes of your audience and allies!
8. Open your eyes to abundance! Read Gibson-Graham Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming our Communities and discover what other resources, besides money, enable you to survive-well! Now that you have learned to transgress plant blindness, open your eyes to feral ways of trading, exchanging and sharing the abundance that surrounds you!

About Gaja
Gaja Mežnarić Osole is a critically engaged designer based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She completed her BA in Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, and her MA in Design Futures at Goldsmiths, the University of London. Over the past several years she oriented her focus on research driven projects that explore ways to speak about and act upon the problem of invasive species. From 2017 on, she has been continuing her environmentally and socially driven practice as a co-founder of Trajna Association. Together with Andrej Koruza, they run projects such as Notweed Paper - an innovative paper from invasive plants and Krater, a creative laboratory for sustainable design practices. As designers they also took part in the Applause project (2017 - 2020) that addressed unsolved questions with regard to invasive alien plant species in terms of the zero‑waste approach and circular economy.

Find out more about Kater at