In recent years, and due to intense socio-political pressures, flows of refugees and economic migrants looking for a safer future are steadily rising. The movement of people beyond their natural setting is also a movement of cultures (a movement of all the characteristics determined by history, myths and traditions) and of the skills of the people born and raised in these places. The cultural elements that follow the people, in their movement from their origin territory to another, are expressed differently in the various places of their temporary or permanent stay in an effort to be equidistant to the local culture. What would it mean to explore, share and design by identifying the qualitative features of these cultural elements? In biology, hybrids or crossbreeds are the outcome of the combination of qualities of two different organisms, varieties or species that share a common characteristic, into one new organism. The continual flow of people, that is sometimes characterized by short or long-term stays in a particular place, form the conditions for the creation of a hybrid culture. Temporary at first, these hybrid cultures have vast potential to be explored through design means.
Xenios was created as part of the AstroLab’s training courses towards vulnerable populations (refugees, migrants and Greeks alike) in Greece. The directors of the course, Antonis Kiourktsis and Nota Tsekoura designed a course that would integrate AstroLab’s targeted training and employment in a holistic model. After a series of educational courses for vulnerable populations that they had designed and executed at AstroLab, they highlighted the necessity of integration and social inclusion.