I like Dutch Design Week. This almost the last large design activity of the year and give a clear direction on where we are – or should be. Here is my report from Eindhoven 2022.
I love Dutch Design Week. I really do. It is a magic combination of festival feeling, museums and school projets. Super un-commercial. Very forward thinking and innovative. And you have perhaps Europe’s best design school showing hundreds and hundreds of new, fresh talents.
And yes, I write this totally unsponsored. I like Eindhoven.
Last year I was so extremely happy with DDW. After two years of pandemic I felt that the design scene was on a halt. Nothing really happened. And then I came to DDW and found what I called “a new mythology”. Read last year’s report here. I mean DDW 2021 gave us Ginevra who made interior design based on tarot reading. FUN!
This year is not about fun.
I must say that DDW 2022 is about “designer as philosopher”. And I am not really sure that is a good thing.
As an example above. MU Art Hybrid House had seven designers or creators talk about reproduction in the future. In a world where we get children later in life, and with the question of people correcting their gender but still wanting to give birth – or should one have children in general. Difficult questions and of course very philosophical.
Central player Dutch Invertuals made an exhibition with nine design projects looking at design that is not human centered. One of the pieces were a lamp with water and the description was “Could the visualization of water as a philosophical entity shape new paths towards a respectful and symbiotitc relationship?”. And it was a lamp with water…
At Klokgebouw was several philosophical questions. Should we make dog food that makes stressed dog calmer? And of course if we take it a step further – should we for humans?
I had this long conversation with two designers/architects who made a machine that should give us a perspective of the future so we could see ourselves in TODAY but from a FUTURE perspective. Do you follow? I am not sure I do…
So. Almost done with this introduction. I think it is difficult. I have shown some clear examples above. My goal is not to ridicule but to show how the whole industry is slowly shifting.
Previously we looked at a design piece from for instance a functional perspective. Functionality differed over time and right now we value sustainability as a main driver. So, is the chair something you can sit in? And is it sustainable? Then we add a layer of aesthetics (that also change over time). Is the chair beautiful? A forth layer is craft. Does it follow a craft tradition? For instance a ceramic sculpture can both be art and design, depending on the maker. Functionality is of less importance, but tradition is important here.
These layers are things I use when looking at an object. Can you sit on it or solve a problem? Is it made from an interesting (sustainable) material? Does it look good (or the opposite deliberately and then driving “taste”)? Does it have a craft angle?
So how do you value a pretty plain lamp with water? Or a craft installation that is supposed to show you what flowers look like from an insect perspective?
Why does this occur now?
I think it is because we are tired of stuff. We are simply done with things. Who needs another chair? And because of that, we look for different kind of questions that tend to be very philosophical. Philosophy gives the object a reason.
But I am not sure designers are the best people in helping us handle large questions in life. Maybe the discussion on i.e. reproduction would have been more effective in a book? A tv show? Maybe we could see the world from an insect’s perspective if we made a computer game instead?
Now – let’s look at some categories I found interesting.
A common theme from Eindhoven and especially with the students – was history. Mainly just looking at it as a lens for our life today. Yassine Ben Abdallah made machete in sugar. The melting sugar creates edges on the knive. And passing of time. Sugar plantation and slaves… Lots of things to take in. And well crafted.
This project got “cum laude” and evidentally the best of the best among the design students at Design Academy.
Two designers talked about heritage from former Eastern European history. Martynas Gailiusas talked about how people in Lithuania (after the wall came down) constantly tryed to copy US lifestyle but always felt like the loosing team.
Damian Cehlarik made a kitchen cabinet inspirered by the aesthetics in East block Slovakia.
Metincan Güzel talked about the aesthetics from Turkish food stalls.
One way to look at the design week is of course to see colours. Looking at my pictures I realise a lot has a red hue to it. Almost like a stop signal.
At Kiki & Joost
At Raw Color with the new sofa for Sancal.
Orange red at new brand Buro Berger. Designer is Bertjan Pot.
Rive Roshan at Kazerne.
Red and purples. By Iris Toonen.
This chair stuck in my head. It actually changes look as it swirls in the room. Almost like a lava lamp… By Louise Begue Teissier.
I always love to see Studio Rens. They are so forward looking in using colours. Here they have this strong chili red but mixed with unusual colours. Feels new.
Finally – I saw perhaps ten projects about natural colouring. First Studio Mixture, the academy student Lewis Duckworth and funghi colouring from Ilse Kremer.
I am trying to keep this short so I will skip the section on sustainability. Maybe a post on that later… My final chapter is inflatable design. Why? I guess it brings some kind of humour. Regardless, we need some fun and I saw a lot these plastic pieces.
Design student Romain Albers
An inflatable playroom at the office? By academy student Claire Cherigie
At Microlab were these pieces in glass but looking like plastic. Designed by Empty Dinner.
Not really inflatable but almost look like bubbles. By Kiki&Joost.
Student work at Design Perron. By Thiel Herken.