H2E has designed a new exhibition, 'Jānis Čakste's House,' dedicated to the consolidation of democratic values and serves as an open space for discussions about the nature of a democratic state and society.
This exhibition has been conceived in Latvia as an open story of the values of a democratic society. Its premise is inspired by the story of a family, which is synonymous with the destiny of the Latvian State and strengthens the idea of the existence of the state itself. Opening these premises for conversations, visitors are engaged to the maximum degree possible and invited to exchange ideas, thus fostering understanding of the role of civil society in the state's existence.
With a total population of less than two million, Latvia has continually had to prove its ability to exist as an independent state. Latvia's first State President Jānis Čakste (1859-1927) played an important role in the country's founding. He was not only a politician of integrity but also a public figure, who stood for a just state built on democratic values, whose development is fostered by the active involvement of civil society. This wise politician's insights a century ago have proved to be enduring and are as relevant as ever today.
Jānis Čakste's family home 'Auči' is home to the exhibition Jānis Čakste's House. During the Soviet occupation, Čakste's family suffered repressions and was forced to leave its native home. Only after Latvia regained its independence was it possible for Jānis Čakste's descendants to return and embark on the painstaking work required to restore the property and open its doors to the public.
The task of Design Studio H2E was to convey Jānis Čakste's timeless ideas and insights in an environment in use today. The task was to create an exhibition that offers not only the opportunity to discover the life and public works of a single powerful personality but which also actively fosters civil consciousness and explains democratic values, forming an interactive environment for discussion and the exchange of ideas.
As a result, with the help of astute design solutions, an inspiring story was created that enhances the self-awareness so vital to a small nation and offers a confident vision of the future. The exhibition's main reference points are defined by selected historical items and archive materials. Multimedia solutions provide an interactive approach to discovering Jānis Čakste's insights and the fates of his family, emotionally enriching the exhibition's narrative and the demonstrating the inviolable link between this one family and the history of the whole Latvian State.
Čakste's understanding of ideal Latvia resonates powerfully within the exhibition space - the interior has been deliberately designed to be laconic and clean, conveying a feeling of astute order and precision. Just as Čakste sought the ideal Latvia, when it came to creating the graphic design for the exhibitions, ideal proportions were sought with a view to conveying order and stability.
The chosen color tones echo the feeling evoked by Latvia's colors - the interior is adorned by a natural wood finish and the color green, while individual accents are conveyed through the use of copper, enhancing the feeling of nobility.
The part of the exhibition space devoted to swapping ideas has an abiding effect. Visitors use it as a place to discuss and individually reflection upon three of the state's value: freedom, independence and democracy, and to vote for one of these values. Accordingly, the exhibition becomes an interactive process, where visitors can participate and augment the exhibition's basic narrative with their thoughts and reflections.
The exhibition is becoming an open and active space where civically engaged members of the Latvian population can exchange opinions. It offers them the opportunity to discuss subjects such as the path to personality development, the role of personality in public processes, democracy, and values.
Photography: Ansis Starks