Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marcel Sloots - Publication Workshop

September 24 2008

Marcel Sloots is a Dutch graphic designer working out of Eindhoven for nearly 7 years within the firm Volle Kracht. Translating to “Full Power”, the firm name describes the way he approaches his work, full of ambition and creative determination. Some of his latest work, the interior of the Mu Gallerie, celebrated the gallery's 10th anniversary. Located on the first floor of the De Witte Dame, the home of the Design Academy Eindhoven, the Mu is an exciting gallery exhibits design, music fasion, architecture and new media by local and international artists.

In September 2008, Marcel Sloots came to the Design Academy in order to conduct a workshop with the second year masters students with intentions of creating a comprehensive publication for the Source program. The Source program invites guest speakers to the Academy with the intention of creating a personal dialogue between student and professional through lectures and interactive workshops. During this particular workshop Sloots gave each student three packages each containing records of Source lectures from the previous year. It was up to the students to format each lecture into one easy-to-read and informative publication. By the end of the day the students had completely reworked the layouts of each Source document, in some cases condensing three pages of records into one. The workshop allowed students gain a unique perspective on visual communication design while completing the Source publication in just one day. Under the guidence of Sloots the students produced quality work for a client (the Source program) in a very short amount of time demonstrating a brute force mentality, aparent in his work and his outlook on the design industry.

When asked about which projects he enjoys to work on the most Sloots states that he has no preference for what kind of design he may work on as long as he picks the right client to work with. He stresses that every designer should “Be very ambitious when choosing a client”, “find out what you may be asked to do” and understand the politics surrounding the client, something commonly overlooked by designers when taking on a new project. He offers this advice about the design insdustry to new designers: “what is important is the spirit of your work, as long as you are doing something what comes out in the end will be alright”, aiming to provide direction to those at a creative standstill.

The workshop with Marcel Sloots was an important demonstration of the challenges a designer may face when working for a new client. Having the students work along side Sloots in creating the publications taught them his “volle kracht” mentality of hard work and determinations, which has brought him success in the design industry. Student-professional interactions like these provide unique opportunites to the students at the Design Academy, teaching key design skills straight from proffesionals through the Source program.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Satyendra Pakhale

Lecture from a cultural nomad

On the 22nd of October of 2008, Satyendra Pakhalé gave two lectures to both bachelor and master students at the Design Academy Eindhoven and accorded us a private interview. He began his presentation by sharing his vision of the world and questioning the audience on its own perceptions. He then proceeded to reveal himself through his works and motivations.
It was a great privilege for us, participate in the event, as well as an opportunity to get to know the designer behind the Man and Humanity Master department better. The team coordinating the event is composed of first year master students, Maurizio Montalti, Bart Nijssen, Cecelia Tzuchun, Timothee Magot and Carolina dos Santos Reis.

Satyendra Pakhalé is a very inspiring speaker with a persuasive manner of communication. His approach was very open-minded and he engaged in very interesting discussions on every topic. He started by addressing modern issues that haunt our planet, like environmental crises and social inequalities. According to Pakhalé, such issues are no longer isolated and need to be addressed by everyone, especially the new generation of designers. He preached appropriateness in our practice, which can be reached by approaching every project according to its context. Sustainable and ethical issues need to be part of the process but there are no rules on how to incorporate them. According to Pakhalé, it is all about perspective. For example, a material that in one context is not environmentally friendly can in another case be the best solution. To support his argument, he cited famous thinkers in the field like Vitor Papanek and Buckminster Fuller. Altogether, his discourse was very inspiring and moving, however it is one that has been around for many years without really producing any impressive ideas. Ultimately, Pakhalé urged us to take a position and to have our own point of view, but there was a contradiction in his reasoning: he answered every question with a positive and negative response and ended up questioning everything, and by doing so, never really took a position himself.
Next, Pakhalé showed us some of his most emblematic creations, like his famous ceramic works and his metal crafted horse. It was highly stimulating to discover the details of the production methods he employed. Without going too deeply into technical considerations, he explained his process, of how he joined traditional techniques and materials with modern expertise throughout his work. He built his reputation by transcending materials and techniques to come up with uncommon uses and results. That is what makes his singularness, and his view of design refreshening.
The interview session was for us the time to bring up Pakhalé’s role as the head of the master in Man and Humanity. He at first hesitated to accept the position, but the system in which the DAE works appealed to him. By having a freelancer status, he is able to contribute to the education of design without having any time-consuming administrative tasks involved, and thus he can continue to devote time to his creative activities. In creating the structure of the program, he brought in different professionals from the industrial design and creative fields, enriching the course and making it very resourceful to the students. In this way he definitely crossed the lines between disciplines and gave the master his cultural-nomadic flavour. Getting to know the person behind the program permitted us to have a better understanding of the program’s agenda and to see how his influence shaped the master.
Pakhalé’s presentation and his concepts fit the Man and Humanity Master perspective, but his professional success is more of a commercial accomplishment, being associated with big names that have no true link to social issues. What is unsettling is that his achievement comes from his stylistic and material approach, not in giving and sharing real solutions for the future. His clients and his projects don’t address the issues that worry most of the young generation, those who will have to pay the bills for the decisions that are made today. However, this does not take away from his considerable contribution to the design world. Satyendra Pakhalé remains an admirable designer and a greatly motivational speaker to inspire worldwide designers and creators of all generations.

Article: Carolina dos Santos Reis
Poster: Timothee Magot
Photograph: Bart Nijssen and Maurizio Montalti