Welcome Stranger

By creative Agents Ralston & Bau together with Linda Hovland

The most empathic act to perform in a home is to welcome strangers to stay. A visitor sleeping in a strangers home and the host letting its spare room are challenging the proxemic zones normally respected between people that have never met before.

The Ideal Lab’ scenarios are defined by the local community where the theme is implemented. In Dale and Flekke, two villages in the municipality of Fjaler, there are a lack of hospitality facilities. While habitants in Fjaler are known to pitching in and host visitors privately when big events are being organised locally, there were no organised hosting network available to uninitiated stranger passing by.

In Empathic Home theme, Ralston & Bau researched the needs and desires for organising the empty beds in the villages so they could be available and known to anyone visiting the area. Locals known to have empty rooms and being open to receive were personally invited to start up a local B&B network. In the meetings that followed, several issues relevant to hosting were discussed. The fact to get paid for something most normally did as a courtesy to a friend or neighbour, made many uncomfortable. To always have to be available and say yes to anyone asking, was another factor that frightened potential network hosts. Even if receiving visitors as a favour, it was clear that if a network was going to work, the hosts had to get paid for preparing and cleaning the rooms.

The social network Airbnb has become world widely used as a platform to make private hosting available professionally. It handles all the practical issues of planning and payment for for a small fee. Airbnb was chosen as a tool for communicating and renting the local hosting possibilities. In that way, anyone not initiated to the local networks would find the home listed in the area.

Two of the host families in Fjaler were chosen to get extra follow up in making their spaces available to receiving visitors: Berit and Hallvard Senneset and Tove and Jan Ulltang. Ralston & Bau advised them how to optimise their interior rooms and give them identity. Before the summer 2013 both families were up and running. After one year being operational, they had received many spontaneous visitors from different nationalities.

The Senneset family are today making their B&B activity professionally in a family house they are renovating and the Ulltangs have extended their hosting to letting, not only their basement flat, but also their whole house. When letting their house they enjoy the adventure of living themselves in a Camping car. These families have become local ambassadors and examples, a modest start to a more sustainable local hosting network.

B&B_meeting5Welcome stranger at Berit and Hallvard


Empathic Seating

By industrial Agent Christian Lodegaard from Scandinavian Business Seating and creative Agents Ralston & Bau

Scandinavian Business Seating is a Nordic furniture maker whose vision is to; make the world a better place to sit. Through this vision the company focuses on making a sustainable difference and products that offer the best working sitting positions. To make a difference SBSeating wishes to contribute to the shaping of the workplace of the future.

One workplace is and will be the home and other ad hoc spaces. The word “office” feels like an outdated word. What are the needs of a working person in informal work situations and how can the spaces quickly adapt to those needs. What is an empathic work environment?

Three user concepts were explored in a workshop with the sociolog Rainer Rosenegger, to create a foundation for further development:

1/ Identity building: the workplace becomes part of the workers identity. Flexible solutions gives the user the freedom to take control over its own space.
2/ Co-working: the co-working space is the third space, a place away from home and away from the office, where to meet for an informal exchange. It can be in a hotel, someones kitchen, a museum or a common atelier where a minimum of services can be found.
3/ Homework: in the home sphere the connection/de connexion between private and work is a major issue. Physical objects needed for a good work process at home should be multitasking, easily transformed from one mind set and usage to another.

Ralston & Bau placed these concepts in the perspective of the Empathic Village and Empathic Home context, to develop scenarios of how an office furniture producer could make a difference with its actions. The developed scenarios (see illustration to the right) were:
Social shift / Caring
Sustainable awareness / Less
Proxemic shift / Instant

SBSeating is taking the findings into a long term process where the company can develop concrete actions in the sense of being the good guy and cater to the proxemic shift in our society.



By creative Agents Cecilie Haaland and Ralston & Bau

The trace of the hand, tangible in handicrafts, signs of the relation between the material and the gesture. The time someone spend making an object by hand has in it self a built in empathic quality that can be lost in the industrialised production of objects.

Cecilie Haaland, a ceramic artist and receiver of the norwegian national artist work fund, was the invited Agent to design, in collaboration with Ralston & Bau, a series of objects intended for the empathic home.

Cecilie was interested in challenging the dividing line between art, artisan and designed objects. Her artisan pottery expertise with porcelain know-how and Ralston & Bau industrial design approach to shaping objects met in the collaboration.

In the first co-creative week session the research from Empathic Home and findings from the encounters and work to create the local B&B network was shared. The Agents identified a meaningful track to develop further a line of domestic objects materialising empathic qualities and values. Specific zones within the “home” were selected as points in need of helpful tools to guide visitors and make them feel welcomed. It was decided to keep focus on the entrance and bathroom areas.

In the second week the Agents created a series of objects in the concept of “Empaths”. Several porcelain objects where sketched and shaped in 3D principle models in paper and clay.

The materialised empathic object Pathic concept is resumed within this definition: “The Pathic is an empathic being surrounding us with one purpose: make our life easier. It is simple-minded, handle one task at a time and come to you when you need it, attracted by your needs. It is the Empath”.

Pathics process Pathics prototype Pathics prototype



By creative Agents Ralston & Bau (NO)

Inspired by a Norwegian village and its relationship with citizens, Ralston & Bau designed a line of rural intelligent objects supplying dedicated lights for specific moments as walking, seating, waiting in large sense moving in a rural space by foot, cycle or car. The Shroom light will guide and follow you smoothly and spare energy when you don’t need it.

Fjaler Municipality commissioned Ralston & Bau to design a park and a series of urban lighting: Shroom, which has been awarded by the famous Red Dot Design Award prize in 2013.

Shroom_Sideview_Day Shroom_Sideview_Night

Food Rituals

Workshop by Ralston & Bau at the PICNIC Festival 2011 Amsterdam

Eating is one of the most intimate, human daily routines. All cultures have their own specific ways to nourish themselves: some eat with their hands, others with a fork and knife, or yet others with chopsticks. What we eat varies as well and connected to each dish comes specific ways to consume it.

Birgitta Ralston, Alexandre Bau, Jan Brauer and Åshild Stav were invited to be guest speakers at the PICNIC Festival. It is an annual three-day event that blurs the lines between creativity, science, technology and business to explore new solutions in the spirit of co-creation. This year’s theme was Urban Futures, with a focus on sustainability, infrastructure, society, design and media. The Transplanteurs held a food rituals workshop at the festival, treating  both our required and treasured daily routines. The workshop explored the participants (Dutch and other) food rituals and co-created new objects. Inspiration for unique designs portraying  differences and culture came through  observations of  everyday  human  life.  The  designers  also  showed  objects created from French and Swedish food rituals.

Food Rituals

Food Rituals Food Rituals Food Rituals Food Rituals Food Rituals