In 2016 when I—Craig— attended Dutch Design Week for the first time, my highlight of the whole festival was probably the graduation show of the Design Academy Eindhoven, called ‘In Need Of’. I somewhat naively hadn’t heard about the Design Academy before moving to the Netherlands in August of 2016, but during the run-up to the Design Week multiple people mentioned how good the graduation show is each year and how I had to check it out. In 2017, now more educated and informed I found the graduation show, this time called ‘Mined’, the most interesting thing on show for its progressive and varied body of work by the students. This year in 2018, un-surprisingly, the Design Academy graduation show was again, by far, the most interesting and inspiring event of the whole design week for me and my colleagues at VBAT, this time the show was called G18 and it was something special.
Having been to the Design Week three times now and each time visiting a broad range of events, shows and exhibitions covering most design topics, I have begun to notice a real divide between the student work and professional work on show in that I find the student work (not just the Design Academy but other Dutch, European and international schools*) far more interesting, inspiring and innovative than ‘established’ professional’s work. This is not to say that the professional’s work is not interesting, but there is a sense of students having a totally different creative mindset. A mindset to create concepts and realise projects which are current, relevant and topical whether pleasant or not. Through design they are able to make a statement, express their feelings and highlight to us today’s climate; be it social, environmental, political, cultural, economical, anthropological or whatever.
Since 1997 the Academy’s graduation show has taken place each year, around the time of Dutch Design Week, at the iconic 1928 Functionalist (Nieuwe zakelijkheid) Academy building De Witte Dame. However in 2018, after almost 20 years, the show took place outside this walls of the Academy and instead to the historic and the beautifully industrial 1929 Campina Milk Factory (Campina Melkfabriek) as a way to reflect a major shift in the public’s perception of design and the role of the Design Academy Eindhoven:
“The relevance of design today has vested us with a position in which we, as a profession, have unparalleled influence over our collective future. Now it is down to us, as an institution, to extend the horizon of design education in response, questioning and revisiting how we present our work and generate discourse and debate.”
Several of us from VBAT visited the G18 show at Dutch Design Week where upon reflecting on the show, we felt compelled to each share some of our favourite projects based either on aesthetics, contextual reasons or simply just our instinct. As always the range of topics covered by the students is extensive with 208 projects by 185 graduates on show meaning there was a lot to both look at and later choose from; fortunately we purchased the catalogue book which allowed us to understand further each project and to choose our favourites with knowledge and reason.
Lucille Nguyen – Up-Part
Up-Part is a modular footwear system, by French designer Lucille Nguyen, designed to be everlasting and made from different shoe elements which can be easily replaced when no longer needed or when worn-out. New shoe parts simply snap, clip or tie onto an existing part. This project by Nguyen is a response to fast fashion and its throwaway culture, where cheap and low-quality shoes quickly get used and thrown out or diminished to the back of one’s closet. As well as being sustainable through modularity, the shoes can also be changed based on aesthetics through materials, colours and finishes allowing for infinite combinations. This project is the kind of thing that Nike or Adidas should already be committed to doing; or they are too much part of the problem.
Moreno Schweikle – Oasis
Oasis is introduced by Moreno Schweikle as not “just another water cooler”. It aims to revive the value of water through its design, combining the look and feel of a romantic fountain whilst retaining the traditional and functional office water-cooler image. This modified water-cooler is made with the exact same technique and materials as what we know and are used to already but the design is different. Oasis references neo-classical and romantic drinking fountains in city squares where once people would congregate together; much like the modern iteration. The figures on the cooler are holding, pouring and worshipping water therefore showing the social importance of the resource.
Willem van Hooff – Elements of Construction
Elements of Construction is a family of furniture which together celebrate the invention of reinforced concrete. This is done by revealing its inner beauty as until now the steel reinforcement mesh has been used purely to give the concrete strength and is intended to be hidden away. Here Willem van Hooff has used the material and composite of concrete, turning it inside-out and bringing the mesh to the surface to give it an aesthetic and functional quality. The crude concrete forms are juxtaposed by the rigidity and regularity of the mesh; they have an inherently furniture-like feeling through the way they are formed into curves and shelves as well as the colours used.
Diego Faivre – Minute Manufacturing
This is a currency concept communicated through a very simple design system which leads to striking products. Diego Faivre developed a design manufacturing system to make objects by the minute with the cost of each object measured in ‘Diego Coins’ each worth a minute of production time and equivalent of €1. The manufacturing system chosen is applying colourful clay to waste and commonplace products where the quality and design of the outcome depends on the time spent making it. This challenges the traditional way we value an object and it is a reaction to the rise of mass production and a lack of individual expression in what is made by production companies. This project highlights an important and topical issue through a colourful and exciting visual approach.
Sarah Brunnhuber – Eccentricity within Uniformity
Another modular project, Sarah Brunnhuber explores a collection of modular garment components which reference uniforms. Consisting of four shapes in uniform style fabrics with multiple buttons and button holes; any piece can be attached to any other piece to create eccentricity through uniformity. While society encourages individuality, the reality is that most of us live, eat and dress the same. This project aims to introduce the adaptable uniform into everyday life, creating garments without rules. I liked this project for its bravery and ingenuity; many people would not want to adapt to modular, uniform clothing for fear of looking the same but this project shows how imagination through a modular system can create eccentricity and personality.
Michela Segato – Conditions of Air
This piece is a collection of playful sculptures created from the annoyingly popular consumable of bicycle inner-tubes, particularly in the Netherlands. Michela Segato found that by constraining these inner-tubes into new and interesting shapes through tying, gluing and binding. I thought that Segato accurately captures the tension and frustration that ensues when one of these things gets a nail through them whilst creating an
Pierre Castignola – State of Possessions
I like the idea of being nice to furniture as many years of mass manufacturing and a throw-away culture has formed a relationship of abuse; slamming bookcases and lamps into walls whilst moving house, for example. Pierre Castignola has managed to turn this ‘toxic’ relationship on its head as he anthropomorphises his furniture in order to give them function. Lamps which only turn once given a blanket or pouring them a drink; creating a connection with the user and giving emotion over function.
Pierre Castignola – Copytopia
Another one of Castignola’s projects focuses on issues within copyright which is expressed as he reinterprets and remixes the common, white, plastic, garden furniture. He believes that nobody knows who designed the original white, plastic chair despite numerous remake patents; taking sections of different designs and re-assembling them he illustrates the ambiguous relationship between patent law and creative freedom as “imitation is part of human nature”.
Geoffrey Pascal – Graefiophobia-Unexpected Office
Inspired by a fear of working at a pressure inducing desk, Geoffrey Pascal designed a series of furniture which recreates the comfortable, laid-back positions that we adopt whilst we sleep. These pieces of furniture have an aviation aesthetic, perhaps because of how each piece is designed to be as close as possible to the ‘Neutral Body Posture’ developed by NASA as the “ideal resting position”.
Boris Maas – The Urge to Sit Dry
The thing that drew me towards Boris Maas’ chair is the fact that it is huge. Standing roughly 12 feet tall, the chair elegantly illustrates how far below sea level the Netherlands lies, elevating a person above the water and keeping them dry. The purpose of which is to open up discussions within a private context how global issues are affecting us.
Jelle Spieker – Meaning
Rendering Meaning is an animated typographic display which utilises 210 paper sails to create a satisfying experience.The sails are turned by small motors to reveal either a black or white side, acting like pixels within a digital typeface. Together these pixels animate a word or an expression. There is a constant ‘swish’ as the display is always in motion which appealed greatly to my satisfaction. I couldn’t stop watching it, mesmerised.
“The project started with my interest in animated typography and the idea to create a physical system of moving text. The installation has a mesmerising quality — due to the movement, the materiality of the paper and the sound that it makes — which a digital animation cannot provide.”
Janne Schimmel & Moreno Schweikle – Return to Default
You may think we have accidentally stretched this image but no, it is this office chair that has itself been stretched. In Janne Schimmel & Moreno Schweikle’s project, Return to Default, three standard office seats have been digitally stretched, blown up and morphed. The off-size frames were 3D-printed, then traditionally upholstered and reintroduced into the office. At first it took me a little while to understand, but suddenly when the penny dropped, I began to appreciate this impressive piece.
Carla Joachim & Jordan Morineau – Moca
Moca is a customised pottery casting machine which aims to “combine technology and craft with a human/natural touch.” As a slip cast rotates slowly below, a timed drip of porcelain is dropped into it. The rhythm in which these droplets of porcelain are released effects the outcome of the design in unique ways.
Cas van Son – JAMFLOW
JAMFLOW is a unique musical instrument designed to be played with absolutely no prior musical knowledge. It allows anybody to get involved in jam sessions to experience the indescribable energy that flows between musicians.
Jade Chan – Responsive Furniture
I always like to be surprised, so when I first saw the Responsive Furniture, I thought it was relatively normal with maybe a hint of retro-futurism. However, when a object is placed on it, the springs react to release another feature, may it be another shelf of another coat hanger.