Giants are a particular tradition in the North of France and Belgium. Animated and dressed in local costumes, giants embody the collective identity of the town. They are carried by one or more people in parades, often accompanied by the local band. Manten and Kalle, Kortrijk’s giants, were damaged and neglected in the 1990s. But the municipality wanted to revive this tradition through a contemporary and participatory method with a focus on an interactive process of co-design. They wished to invent a new giant for the city that would also reflect modern times and new social challenges, notably social inclusion and cohesion.
This idea crossed an already started project from Bolwerk, a local NGO focusing on creation, encounter, wonder and ecology. The city and Bolwerk created the opportunity for citizens to invent, design and build new giants representing the diversity of the city while providing opportunities for the creative sector.
The process of co-creation involved the local industrial design school and primary schools, visual artists, writers and illustrators as well as craftspeople and the elderly. A survey was addressed to citizens to support the narrative of the project. Emma the new giant was presented to Kortrijk’s citizens in 2018 during the annual city festival and registered as a citizen of Kortrijk.