A Year of Hosting Salons


By Interintellect host Patricia Hurducaș

I have always been fascinated by the art of good conversations: the richness, the pleasure, the “awakening” we experience, and how these particular conversations change our mood, provide answers, leave us with more questions than before, ignite our appetite for knowledge and for living well.

When I moved to a Swiss village from Berlin in January 2020, I had the intention to host salons at home for strangers, friends, ii members, anyone who would like to join the conversation and share their knowledge and their questions over dinner and drinks. Hosting in-person salons was always a dream of mine – but this particular dream was postponed by the outbreak of the pandemic. Very soon I found myself in Zoom rooms with strangers discussing ideas until midnight, feeling more connected than before despite the lockdown, despite spending my days in a remote Swiss village, far away from a buzzing cosmopolitan life.

My hosting journey started exactly one year ago, on October 13th on a topic very close to my heart and similar to the title of my dissertation: “flânerie: a philosophy of walking”. As a self-claimed introvert who did not like talking at all in virtual salons this felt like a difficult challenge – moderating a conversation for three hours, talking in front of so many people, ensuring a safe and inviting space … virtually. I could not bring the decor, the atmosphere of my dining room, drinks and plates of cold cuts, but in this virtual room I could listen actively, and make people feel safe and heard.

Beyond (the art of) a good conversation, people want an experience: Damascus moments, life-changing questions, meaningful insights, kind words.

Below I will take you on a journey through the salons that I hosted so far and I will not tell you what I learned from them, but how they made me feel. Please view these salons as a flowing and ongoing conversation spanned over 12 months and as companions on my journey in finding out what I want to bring more into this world.

Peripatetic Flânerie: A Philosophy of Walking (Aimlessly)

Feeling curious and inspired as we shared our reflections on our serendipitous wanderings.

the intro questions of this salon

Talking with Strangers: On Serendipity and Interconnectedness

Feeling connected and touched as we share reflections on the kindness of strangers, the intimacy shared with an unknown other, how strangers impacted meaningfully our lives.

Wine Rituals: Theater, Stories, and Celebration of Life

Feeling deeply touched by the story shared by J. and his reflections on the everlasting love of friendships.

Visual Intelligence & Art: Learning to See

Feeling fascinated by the different ways of looking at these paintings; seeing with fresh new eyes.

On Incertitude and Enjoying the Unknown

Feeling excited about the unknown ahead, visualising the unknown with 20 people in a Zoom room – a thrilling experience. I quit my job, gave my three months notice.

The Invisible Design of Cities: Everything Is Hypertext

Feeling curious to explore new cities, but also curious to explore familiar streets and observe what I have not noticed until now.

Walden Part 1: On Exploration and Self-Reliance

Feeling a longing for long hikes.

The Living Mountain – On Our Relationship With The Wild World Around Us

Feeling inspired by the book “The Living Mountain” and by establishing a long term relationship with a place – revisiting it season after season, seeing how things change and stay the same.

Ways of Curating: On Art, Life, and Knowledge

Feeling deeply satisfied by this conversation on curation, visual knowledge, the role of curators today. Thinking about hosting a curation series in summer.

Hiking With Nietzsche On Challenges, Struggles, And Becoming  Who We Are

Feeling that I am struggling with having more clarity in what I want to do next – project-wise. This salon was extremely touching and intimate in sharing our struggles.

A Conversation On Synchronicity The Search for Meaning in Coincidence

Feeling curious about our stories of synchronicities and how we attribute (personal) meaning to them.

A Conversation on Nonviolent Communication: Observation, Feelings, Needs, Requests

Feeling hurt as I experienced bullying at work in the last weeks.

Exploring Collage Techniques and Visualising Our Stories

Feeling creatively stimulated and touched by the personal stories shared in the room.

The Curation Series Part 1 – Understanding the Curator

Feeling excited to host my first Curation Series. Poured a lot of love and attention into preparing the material for the participants and building the curriculum.

The Curation Series Part 2 – Copying the Curator

Feeling grateful to dive deeper into a topic which I absolutely love.

The Curation Series Part 3 – Becoming the Curator

Feeling inspired by the galleries of the participants and by their kind feedback – I will definitely design another workshop/salon series in 2022.

Places for Thinking

Feeling the need to explore this topic as I want to build in the long run a place for thinking – an atelier, a gallery, a cabin in nature.

Building Our Own Virtual Galleries in Kunstmatrix (Workshop)

Feeling that I learned so much from the galleries shared during this workshop, thinking about my long term approach with these workshops and how I can help my friends with curating and displaying their projects in cafes/ galleries/ museums. A few projects are already planned for 2022. I need to think BIG.