A new mythology (continuing from Dutch Design Week)

Let’s be honest. I have been to the design weeks in Milan, Paris, Copenhagen and even took a look at the things in Stockholm and Oslo. And this all in September. I haven’t really been impressed. It is all about the same old oversized sofas as before. Nothing had changed. And now this… My mind is really exploading. I am so happy and excited that the design scene still has a meaning, a need and an importance. Here is my story from Dutch Design Week 2021.

I will try to keep this as clear and proper as possible, so why not try using headlines… First one out.

Not for the 1%

A lot of the images below are from texts on walls. So many exhibitions and project were talking about doing design for the “not 1%”. That is of course people in developing countries but also including gender, sexual orientation, class… You can see some examples in the report from yesterday.

De-growth as a topic with Dutch Invertuals.

At one space in Eindhoven, they had collected the best of the best of design students from various schools. The one that got absolutely most attention was this project. “Nothing” can save the world. Of course a play with words but what objects do we need to make the world a better place? By shopping nothing we save the environment and can also focus on eachother instead. Made by Studio Maximalisme.

And this. I realise it is all very academic and intellectual – but it triggers me. I like. Here a student project at Design Academy. They were a group. The one with the smallest pedestal got the power over the tall pedestal. I just like how a simple thing like this change the things we view them.

Noone wants to be on the floor – but it might be ok of you have the power to decide what goes on the higher podiums…

And the whole concept of – who makes decisions?? – is interesting. Should our bodies adopt to a chair or should the chair adopt to the way we sit? By Matthieu Henry

Many, many projects at Dutch Design Week was about inclusion. Not only for sexual orientation but it was absolutely there. Here an outdoor bench that push strangers together and with an LGBTQ flag.

But not only about sexual orientation. Here a hair salon where you get to sit down and talk about inclusion while getting your hair done.

At Design Academy student Clodagh Read made a safe space to talk about queer culture. In general it was more about awareness and opportunities to talk about things, rather than actual new design.

Here a queer chair. Or at least a chair talking about gender stereotypes and sexual orientation. At the exhibition at Dutch Invertuals. Made by Dae Uk Kim. I am not sure we need a queer chair but the discussion is interesting.

One of the most awarded design projects is the one by Leo Maher. His project is about homosexuality and dance.

Also from Leo.

Student project by Alina Slup where local Polish craft tradition is used to talk about homosexuality and abortion.

Another project that got lot of attention was by Ginevra Petrozzi. She mixes rational design with tarot reading. She means – if we trust the algorythms in everything – why not trust tarot?? And this leads us into a new design that is magical rather than logical and rational.

A new mythology

It was after seeing the tarot reading installation I realised that all these young designers are all into some kind of magical thinking. They are not interested in doing a new chair. Not even extremely into sustainability. They are talking more about minorities and OTHER CREATURES. And I started seeing things like this installation. Pauline Rip made a project about Bigfoot.

Miles Worner made an exhibition display for magical creatures.

An installation on how plants see eachother… By Cecilia Casabona. A lot of things are very much video driven.

A design project on how to make new folk dance. By Ines Borovac.

I was walking around in Eindhoven and all of a sudden I felt this tingling sensation of seeing something. Super exciting. I mean. Nothing to decorate your house with. But it is all new and interesting. And scary.

I mean… some of the creatures in this mythology are monsters. But that’s part of the story too. Here a sextoy to deminish toxic masculinity.

Even with a full on instruction video. I mean – everyone is talking about toxic masculinity but noone designs anything for it. Here by Sarah Fitterer.

A new mythology – also for aliens. How does “face recognition” work with aliens?

Creaturesque… Here external lungs so you can be in water longer.

You can also see the magical wilderness.

Is it a chair or wild bushes??

Also objects you could expect in a mythological world. Here a seed fountain. Instead of water we need more seeds… Made by Christoph Dichmann

Last and most complex student work. A “machine” where you breath into the nozzle. Anyone can. The more the merrier. And at the same time a baloon is inflated. This goes up in the air and you have made a cloud. And now you (or your breath) is part of the weather. This project won at least two or three awards for best design project at Design Academy. Apparently something that touches a lot of people. By Filips Stanislawskis. 

Isn’t it strange and cute and fun and revolutionary and just amazing?

I was very, very happy with my excursions and findings in Eindhoven. I have been complaining that the design scene has been a bit stale but I love how the younger generation address the other 99% (sexual orientation, inclusion, ethinities, etc, etc). And I love this new mythology. I love that we take a break from functionality for a while and talk about aliens, monsters and gods… Love it.



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