It’s impossible to pick the best or most unique projects from the graduation show of the Design Academy Eindhoven you can visit during the Dutch Design Week. It’s in the eye of the viewer to decide which ones to pick. There are 200 projects on show; all are thought-provoking, and they invite us to reflect or act.
What makes the DDW so different from other festivals or trade shows where design plays an important role is you can expect to be immersed in intellectual work wherever you go. You need to pause, read, and understand; it’s not the easy way of browsing and saying, “Oh, I love this,” just by looking at it and then moving to the next work. Oftentimes, the work is not self-explanatory. Visiting this festival requires brain work and wanting to get immersed intellectually.
1. Metamorphic Dreams
VR-modeling, hand-drawing, 3D scanning of hand-crafted objects, artificial intelligence, back and forth between an image and the fantasized possibilities of transformation, blurring the line between what is material and virtual, what is hand-made and digitally generated. These mindscapes are a sensible sanctuary in which there is room to imagine and perceive an alternative way to relate to the world and each other. The artist invites us to materialize visions into tangible experiences where the journey blurs the line between reality and dreams.
Thaïs Busnel started by creating this world of creatures made from a 3D pen, glass, wall, and metal as a true multi-passionate creative. The animation of her pieces presented on a screen (last image) came in the second step to infuse movement and an additional feeling of otherworldliness.
2. Gaia, how are you?
This is not just another 3D-printed pots story but has a very interesting concept behind it.
“We have worked hard to shut nature out of our insulated and air-conditioned homes. Only some nature remains in the easily manageable and safe terracotta pot.”
This collection of 3D-printed terracotta pots, each produced by Yufei Gao, is based on the weather data of a specific day. The higher the temperature, humidity, and wind speeds diverge from their averages, teh more the pot’s shape is abstracted and distorted. On a particularly stormy day, the pot collapses in on itself. This way, the extremely precise 3D printer has to surrender to the chaos of Gaiathe more the pot’s shape is distracted and distorted. The collection of 92 pieces reminds us that nature is not submissive or unchanging but chaotic and unyielding.
2. The Nursery
Janneke Lange has a dream. Enchanted since childhood by greenhouses of all sorts and with a passion for tropical fruits, she envisions establishing a botanical garden in the Netherlands dedicated solely to these natural treats. It would serve as a garden with a wellness center, restaurant, gym, and sanctuary for indulging in exotic fruits.
These plants will grow and move towards the botanical garden that Janneke de Lange envisions with a wellness center, restaurant, gym, and sanctuary for indulging in exotic fruits. To realize this vision, trees are needed, and instead of buying them from a commercial nursery, she aspires to establish her own nursery. She envisages portable greenhouses crafted from repurposed baby trolleys. Nurturing baby plants will create a deeper connection to nature.
“These plants will grow and move with me towards my Garden of Eden.”
4. Monster Truck
An impossible-to-realize design for a cabinet filled with the owner’s experience is inspired by Albert Camus’ essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’. If you see a cabinet and its contents as a reflection of the owner’s experiences, and we take this closet as an extension of ourselves that we continually drag behind us, what would it look like?
Lucas Hendrix’s Monster Truck is an attempt to visualize the baggage we carry around. The design is based on Albert Camus’ essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, together with interpretations of different philosophical and architectural ideas. The idea is to mount a two-metre-high ceramic cabinet on one-metre-high wheels.
But as a result of continuous reflection on the self and the environment it is in, the piece will never be finished, invoking the very sentiment found in the Sisyphus myth.
5. The popping sound of bubble wrap
Sculptures from discarded materials explore the power of intuition in the creation process. Is it a rocky landscape on an alien planet or a forgotten and overgrown living space? Ilaria Cavaglià explores the potential of discarded materials by crafting ambiguous objects that straddle the line between organic and synthetic. She drew inspiration from the Grotto aesthetic, a sculpted artificial cave and feature of the Rennaissance garden. Using discarded bubble wrap, styrofoam, and newspapers, she intuitively manipulated these materials to create a series of functional sculptures. An intriguing texture, reminiscent of patterns found in the animal world, covers the skeletons of old furniture. The shapes combine to create a dreamscape that extends the imagination. It invites you to imagine alternate realities and explore the tension between the natural and the artificial.
Practical tips for visiting the Dutch Design Week (DDW):
- Get accommodation in the center (The Social Hub Eindhoven has the best location). It’s much walking these days, the venues are in different areas of the city, and you need to make your stay as convenient as possible. Public transport is really good, and you also have shuttle services.
- Start on time. Opening hours are only from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., so the smaller studios can still work before and after. It’s a long festival of nine days. With proper breaks, you don’t have more than six hours of visiting.
- There are 100 locations. Study the website beforehand and plan what you really want to see, as it is impossible to visit all. Don’t just arrive and start looking into the program. Trade shows are as successful as your planning was.
- Check the weather before in case you need to travel with an umbrella (no kidding).
- The Graduation Show is heavy; you can’t do it in one day. This year there were 200 students. My recommendation is to visit the exhibition in two days. There is much to read and understand, and your head just explodes after three hours. But don’t miss it either; it’s an amazing opportunity to get different perspectives and see great research!
- Talk to the students! It’s refreshing and insightful. They spend many hours there next to their work and also appreciate that interaction.
- It’s super easy to get from the airport to the city by bus, and they run often. These are the perks of a smaller city!
- Don’t miss the Dutch Design Awards, and plan time for it. That exhibition is already worth the visit.
- Go to Piet Hein Eek, be ready for some shopping experience (the shop is big and full of curated design), and get lunch there.
- My sweet spot is 2.5 days, but I don’t pretend to visit everything.