The theme for Dutch Design Week 2015 is “What if…“, two words that perfectly capture the essence of the contemporary Dutch design scene. These are a few highlights from the DDW 2015…
This year Dutch Design Week took place for the 14th time in Eindhoven with almost 100 venues and 400 events taking place throughout the city. The massive nine day event typically attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and mobilize the whole city. As Eindhoven has moved from traditional production by companies such as Philips and DAF, DDW has become an important part in the transformation towards innovative growth. The city offer a great infrastructure for studios and startups, with plenty of old industrial space, one of the most prolific design institutions in the world, the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) as well as both public and private investments in creative industries.
Strijp-S, an industrial area just northwest of the city center, is the principal location of the DDW and host to some of the largest venues like the massive Klokgebouw and Veemgebouw as well as the various outdoor events around Ketelhuisplein and the the central street Torenallee. For the duration of the DDW this industrial landscape is shared by sponsors, design and manufacturing companies of various sizes, from start-ups to renowned firms, products, prototypes and concepts, student exhibitions and curated content, disruptive hi-tech and brutal low-tech.
The tech side is actually quite strong this year, with several projects bringing new perspectives on recent developments, like the large scale concrete 3D printer by Theo Salet & Rob Wolfs. This project is part of a discourse that seems to be key to scale up 3D printing beyond prototyping and manufacture of small objects. Pauline van Dongen develops fashion deeply immersed in technology, wearable tech in the truest sense of the word. At the DDW she presents Rhombotic Flux, a project that projects and creates geometric patterns based on an algorithmic interpretation of the human body. Atelier Robotiq makes more conventional objects – lamps, with the aid of industrial grade robots. Their work oscillate between craft and industry as molds and frames are handmade while the manufacturing is done by robots. Out of the tech oriented projects the most low tech of them all stands out as one of the most interesting, the Solari rice cooker. The rice cooker is powered by a combination of two principles – first it converts solar energy into heat through a fresnel lens and secondly it acts as an efficient heat trap for that heat energy. Now, there are already plenty of solar cooking devices out there, but Solari offers a more intuitive and user oriented design, it’s easy to read and adjust and it can be manufactured out of relatively cheap materials. There is also a compelling altruistic aspect of Solari as it is environmentally clean and could possibly be used as a complement to other cooking methods in developing countries.
Among the independent exhibitors there are some familiar works like the rustic calcernite (limestone) series of everyday objects by Cosma Frascina. Silvia Knüppel brought old and new pieces to the Klokgebouw, especially amusing is her Frankfurter Mélange series, playful fusions of iconic furniture such as Carl Malmsten’s Åland chair with Stoelcker’s Frankfurter Kitchen chair. Knüppel brings a similar playful approach to her reinterpretation of historic furniture styles in Pl(a)ywood. This furniture has the resemblance or contour of a baroque chest of drawers but in fact consists of 38 horizontally layers of plywood that can be rearranged and stacked in various ways.
Cynthia Oegema’s Betula is an extensive research into the properties of birch tree and the preliminary results have an surprisingly sensory appearance. Similarly Canvas by Stardust Architects is an in-depth look into the qualities of concrete, exploring equally haptic and sensory aspects of an traditionally rough industrial material. Of the Irish contingent costume designer Niamh Lunney‘s collaboration with Love & Robots – Plumage is a cut above the rest. The 3D printed cape carries an otherworldly presence and feather-like appearance.
Burg’s Future of Making stands out among the student exhibitions with quite challenging design proposals. Notable projects include the organic forms of Svenja Bernhold’s Knitting – A Study in Biodiversity and Anna Schröder’s investigation into possible uses of fungi and mycelia for textile development.
In No Particular Order organized by Creative Industries Fund NL is an annual highlight bringing the best and the brightest of the Dutch design scene to a wider audience. The exhibition has an inclusive approach showcasing a broad scope of current practices. From new materials and experimental manufacture methods to technology and speculative fashion, neither of which are mutually exclusive. This time around 36 talents have been selected to participate among other Marjan van Aubel and her much publicized Current Window, a “tinted” window with integrated solar technology. Another project that has been featured previously at the DDW is Maurizio Montalti’s Growing lab, an longterm project aimed at replacing oil based products with fungi mycelium based materials. Ricky van Broekhoven has teamed up with recent DAE graduate Olivier van Herpt for Solid Vibration. Using van Herpts large scale ceramics 3D printer, the duo has created intricate patterns with a very high level of detail by transferring audio vibrations into the printing process. The result are objects, vessels that are solid, material manifestations of sound. Berlin based Bora Hong’s Eames-type chair is part of a larger project on plastic surgery and its underlying significances. The chair is in fact constructed out of parts of other chairs and made into a rough resin based resemblance of the Eames’ LCW plywood lounge chair.
Hands Off is another selection of current dutch design practices curated by the Museum of Craft and Design San Francisco (SFMCD) featuring Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon, Jólan van der Wiel’s Gravity Stools and Dirk vander Kooji’s recycled plastic furniture. This showcase is perhaps more of an introduction to contemporary Dutch design than In No Particular Order, focusing on more conventional design themes.
Located just a short walk form Strijp-S is the compund of Piet Hein Eek, housing his workshops as well as restaurants and exhibition spaces. While the work of Piet Hein Eek hardly needs any introduction but his studio does host a number of guests such as Social Label and Ontwerpduo. The compound is also home to studio rENs, a duo that has gained a lot of attention for their use of colors as an integral part of their design process. Re-vive in collaboration with carpet firm Desso and Reddish – a ceramic dying project, are among the most well known projects by the studio so far. For the DDW rENs unveiled a new series of prints on paper but also lend their space to Steven Banken‘s tannic acid experiments. With a s similar fascination for colors and chromatic processes Banken use tannic acids to alter materials such as oak and steel into having similar appearances while of course having widely different properties.
Across the center of Eindhoven it almost every other shop or restaurant are participating in the events, it seems like there are no spaces or venues left unused or empty. One of the larger sites is Kazerne a mix-use creative center located a few blocks from the Design Academy Eindhoven. The buildings are converted from defunct police barracks and municipal garages into exhibition spaces, offices, workshops and a large restaurant. The big show this year is Open Ended featuring items from the personal collection of curator and trend oracle Li Edelkoort. In an adjacent space Dutch magazine Eigen Huis & Interieur stage a similar greatest-hits-show with works by Formafantasma, Studio Job, Marcel Wanders and others.
Thing Nothing at the Van Abbemuseum is the third installation of an ongoing collaboration with the DAE, the previous being Self Unself 2013 and Sense Nonsense 2014. The context of this series is more critical and reflective than many other events at the DDW and mix emerging talents with works by the likes of Ai Weiwei, Naoto Fukasawa, MVRDV, Dunne & Raby and so on. Thing Nothing launches into unexpected territory – examining a dematerialized context of design, design beyond the thing itself, virtual or real, and the moral imperative of designers and users. The curatorial team has created winding path for the visitor to follow, from !Mediegruppe Bitnik’s Random Darknet Shopper, to Hongjie Yang’s concept of semi-human objects and Dunne & Raby’s After Life Euthanasia Machine to Chris Kabel’s Stack Ring. Although the path through all this might be hard to distinguish at times, Thing Nothing offers a valuable context for critical design and critical design thought.
At Temporary Art Center (TAC) Visser & Meijwaard, a duo we first saw in Copenhagen earlier this year, has set up a wonderfully wired exhibition showcasing a new funeral concept amid freakishly large flowers. The duo have taken their trademark bright monochrome style and created a reusable coffin with a bright PVC hood on a detachable wood slab. Kassiewijle was staged with the help of Studio Knockout and Linda Nieuwstad.
Sectie C is a creative cluster to the far east of Eindhoven, close to the city limit. This once decaying industrial area is now home to literarily hundreds of studios and small to medium scale manufacturing sites. During DDW the dwellers of Sectie C either open up their workspaces or showcase their deigns in some of the communal exhibition areas. As one would expect many are alumni of the DAE with some notable exceptions like Floris Wubben. Studio Floris Wubben has been a presence in Eindhoven since 2009 with its idiosyncratic collections of epoxy vases and hammered clay bowls, and now a new collection of ceramic lamps. Bas van der Veer has perhaps a more traditional approach to design and making but with an equally strong sense for form and material. His work for Pilat & Pilat is evidence enough, with the most recent addition – the wooden Syl stool. Hopefully the table version will be picked up by the same manufacturer.
now for some more pictures