Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Koert van Mensvoort

Written by Saara Järvinen

Koert van Mensvoort (PhD) gave a lecture at the Academy on 13 May 2009. He started by amazing the audience with an entertaining introduction on himself. He even proved us his boogie skills. This gave us a taste of what to expect: a visual rollercoaster of Koert’s visions.

Koert defines himself in many ways. He has an art background but also a PhD from the Technical University Eindhoven. His field stretches from art to technology and philosophy. This shows in the pieces he presented to us.

A good example is the Datafountain, that displays the money currency rates in a water fountain. Koert claims this kind of “information decoration” can be a more calm and open way to present data. ”Currently many digital information appliances force people to retrieve information from sources that are not attuned to our human physical bandwidth at all”, says Koert.

Koert focuses on explaining the theory of Next Nature. By this he means the nature emerged from human culture. Our naïve idea of nature as forests and wild animals isn’t very accurate anymore. His new definition of nature is that it is something beyond control, whereas culture is what we control. There are many examples of the blurring of culture and nature, such as indoor beaches, man-made islands in Dubai and tissue engineering. Next Nature is a particularly Dutch issue of course, considering that The Netherlands is so much shaped by humans.

Our view on nature is affected by what we see in the media. Something fake can be more real to us than the real thing. Koert deals with this in his documentary “The woods smell of shampoo”. The title refers to a girl who goes to a forest and associates the smell of trees with pine-scented shampoo.

The lecture created controversy in the audience, and raised questions on individual freedom. It seemed that the theme made us feel anxious and powerless. This is interesting considering that we study in a future-oriented field and even have possibilities to have an effect on the development.

Koert reminds us that not only culture imitates nature, imitation exists also in nature. Koert gives an example of the walking leaf, an insect that disguises as a leaf. Imitation is natural, and according to Koert, this gives us hope. Also, human manipulation over nature has always existed. “Playing with fire is what we do” says Koert. We long to control nature, but there are always surprises.

Furthermore, fusing goes both ways. Culture takes natural forms for instance in the construction of Internet and road networks. It is important to remember that our culture is a product of nature.

Chiang Ping Fan: Editing the video.
Huang Tzu Chun: Filming the lecture, Weblog update.
Henry Wilson: Biographical article, Interview, Presenting the lecturer.
Kitikoon Worrasorratorn: Photography, Poster, Graphic design of dvd cover and vlag package.
Saara Järvinen: Review article, Communication.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eric De Clercq and Gert Staal

written by Carl Harris
photograph by Hanna, Chester, Kwak

On April 28th 2009 Eric De Clercq and Gert Staal visited the Design Academy for a workshop with the students and source publication meeting respectively. The workshop taken by Eric was divided into two parts.

The morning session focused on creating a small video that could be analyzed by the students. Students dispersed into small corners of the masters space, each thinking of how to get the most out of the task. There were only a small amount of students that were present in the workshop. If I think back to the past workshop with Eric, it lacked any depth and technical aspects within the medium of video. The lack of numbers corresponded to the frustration felt by the students whom previously attended.

This workshop however had a better balance between technical interview techniques delivered in an academic way, and a creative quick video that delt with editing.

The short videos that were presented by students, all varied in style and technique. There was an interview, a past video morph project and a stop motion photo shoot video. All were analysed in a quick, swift but informative manner.

The afternoon session had a more academic feel. Eric gave a lecture about interviewing techniques within video. He gave examples, anecdotes, information regarding dos and don’ts of interview styles; How to frame the interviewee, the importance of building a relationship, all combined to present a very informative two hours. Although the number of students diminished everyone who attended participated in discussion. There was a sense of thirst for knowledge.

The success behind the video workshop was due to the structure and content that differed to the previous workshop. It was more about educating and less about developing our creativity. We as creative students don’t need a lesson in creativity with video; we need a lesson on video and how to edit.

Overall I believe the day was very productive. The only disappointment was the lack of students whom could have witnessed a transformation in workshop and video technique.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

DAMIAN O’ SULLIVAN (01/04/2009)

Editorial Article
DAMIAN O’ SULLIVAN (01/04/2009)
Text: Maurizio Montalti
Photo's: Nichon Glerum

Damian O’Sullivan is a dutch designer who also works covering the role of mentor in the bachelor course at the “Design Academy” in Eindhoven.

He has been one of the “lucky” selected designers who have been invited by Paola Antonelli, director of the MOMA in New York, to join with his work one of the most exciting and astonishing exhibitions ever presented in the design field: “Design and the Elastic Mind”.

That’s why on april 1st 2009 he has been coming on the 5th floor of “De Witte Dame”; to give us a lecture: a presentation and a general overview on some of the content of that great event he has been part of.

Over the past 25 years, under the influence of such milestones as the introduction of the personal computer, the Internet, and wireless technology, we have experienced dramatic changes in several mainstays of our existence, especially our rapport with time, space, the physical nature of objects, and our own essence as individuals.
“Design and the Elastic Mind” considered these changes in behaviour and need.
It has been highlighting current examples of successful design translations of disruptive scientific and technological innovations, and reflecting on how the figure of the designer is changing from form giver to foundamental interpreter of an extraordinary dynamic reality.

It’s an exploration in the explosively reciprocal relationship between science and design in the contemporary world.
His lecture started with a friendly critique adressed to the “Design Academy” in itself, a very good school specialized in conceptual design and craftmanship expressed through high aestethics, but still lacking that very important approach with a scientific oriented level, if confronted with other big institutions in the world, as the MIT or the RCA, dealing a lot more with future scenarios and technologies.

After explaining the way the exhibition was set up, through the seven main chapters, he gave us examples of some of the presented projects, one for every chapter.

Then he started showing some of the works made by the italian designer Elio Caccavale; a collection of toys (MyBio) exploring the emergence of biological hybrids in biotechnologies, as well as our moral, social, cultural and personal response to these “transhuman” creatures; each of the twelve dolls he made symbolize a possible biofuture and aim to introduce young children to emerging technologies, inviting them to think about the ways biotechnologies can affect their lives.

Another shown project was “Technological Dreams Series” by Dunne&Raby, objects meant to spark a discussion about how we’d like our robots to relate to us in a possible future. As technology advances and robotic experiments abound (ranging from the pragmatic to the exquisitely absurd) designers are taking a closer philosophical look at our future interaction with robots. Will they be subservient, intimate, dependent, equal? Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby look at robots as individuals with their own distinct personalities and quirks, thinking that devices of the future might not be designed for specific tasks but instead might be given jobs based on behaviours and qualities that emerge over time. New entities: technological cohabitants.
One more was the task devoloped by portoguese designer Susana Soares, titled “BEE’S, New Organs of Perception”; a project based on the evidence that bees have a phenomenal odor perception and can be trained within minutes using Pavlov’s reflex to target a specific odor. Their range of detection goes from pheromones and toxins to disease dignosis. That’s why she developed a range of alternative diagnosis tools that use trained bees to perform a health checkup, detect diseases, and monitor fertility cycles.
After passing through some other shown projects he finally came to present his own as the last one of the lecture: the “Solar Lampion”.

Unlike most solar lamps, which are left in a fixed position outdoors, Damian O’Sullivan’s “Solar Lampion” has been concieved so that at night users can take the light with them into their homes. The designer came in contact with solar technology at a very young age, as his father was responsible for the energy supply for the satellites launched by the european space agency.
The geometric spiraling of the “Solar Lampion” recalls both natural structures, such as pinecones, and the shape of traditional chinese paper lanterns. The lamp is composed of layers of concentric rings, each one holding six solar cells inclined thirty degrees to better catch the sun’s rays .Each solar cell is connected to an LED fed by a rechargeable battery. The solar cells store the sun's energy during the day and release it at nightfall wherever you need it."
Unfortunately he did not give us all these informations and i personally think he could have give us a better insight into the different projects; the overall lecture was sounding a lot like a very general presentation of the amazing MOMA’s exhibition, probably still astonishing for somebody that was completely unexperienced about it, but surely not for all the others.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Frank Theis

A Brief Look into the Transhuman Revolution

By Dana Cannam

Frank Theys is a Belgian visual artist who currently works out of Brussels and Amsterdam. He recently visited the Design Academy Eindhoven showcasing his 2006 documentary Technocalyps, a science fiction meets reality documentary describing the potential realities of a human being enhanced by the seemingly limitless boundaries of technology. The film includes various interviews by a selection of specialists currently working on shattering the limits of the human kind however, does little to question the ethical considerations of such fundamental changes. Can this reconfiguration of the human species be carried out successfully without the total understanding of the possible consequences to our future?

There is no denying our natural ability to question what we perceive as a means to manipulate the environment around us. The advancements in technology today are allowing the human species to harness and control this ability at levels never seen before. Are we heading towards a future dictated by someone else who creates these technological options or will we have the ability to control over our own destiny. Who will decide what is ethically right and wrong when designing an existence without limitations? The unforeseen consequences of these decisions may prove to be disastrous but is technology willing to wait for our permission? It does seem as though a technological apocalypse suggested by the title of Theys documentary is inevitable.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Daijiro Mizuno - Rationalizing Intuition

Daijiro Mizuno and Bas Rajmakkers
Photograph by Susana Camara

Article by Carolina dos Santos Reis

Young PhD Daijiro Mizuno took us on a journey through his work and views on design during his presentation last Friday, 27 March in the Design Academy auditorium. Unlike most of our lecturers that are active designers designing commercial products, he distinguishes himself by focusing his investigation on the act of designing itself. He surprised us with new and different perspectives showing us how all components of the creative process overlap.

If I were to describe Mizuno in three words, they would be passionate, curious and playful – all qualities a designer needs to pursue studies at the higher level and dedicate his career to research. Although Mizuno feels there is no difference between Japanese and Western design anymore, he is influenced by his environment. Since he is now spending most of his time in Japan, his Paperbag Girls project was an installation showcasing the phenomenon of Japanese women who collect branded paper bags, carrying them as a secondary bag carefully matched to their outfit. Even if this is very particular of the nippon society where fascination and addiction to brands is at it’s strongest expression, it happens also in other countries. Mizuno’s interest goes beyond the local cultural definitions. He would rather elaborate on why and how this represents new Zeitgeist as a contemporary form of consumption. This project was inspired on the theories of Bourdieu and Foucault, on accumulated photographic data and influenced his students to create new paperbags. What emerges from this study is how ideas are interwoven between theory, research and practice.

In his professional discourse, Mizuno cites issues like identity, ethics, sociology, history, economics, and psychology, among others, to understand fashion. But his main interest is the irrational dimension present in fashion. For instance, when he studied Universal Fashion Design, that is, garments specially designed for physically impaired persons, he questioned why they were so dull and unattractive, and why it is so important for fashion to offer irrational matters as a social object related to identity. This led him to develop a collection of clothing based on analyzing the physical limitations of the disabled and the kinetics of the body. While the resulting pieces looked like ordinary garments, they had hidden details that facilitated mobility.

Mizuno’s fascination about how designers make sense of themselves led him to focus on the mechanisms of the design process and its inspirational sources for his PhD thesis. When he worked as a part time assistant for Shelley Fox, he became very intrigued with the creative process and how the formal outcome emerges. This motivated him to study the mechanisms of the process more deeply, by both examining other designers and his own method. He stresses intuitive properties in the development of design and the importance of synaesthetics in the outcome of creations. His investigation was based on the concept of orality by Walter J. Ong, to find the traces of tangible shapes hidden in the language and expression of fashion. To cite Mizuno’words, he “applied "Orality" as a means to analyse the psychodynamics of designers represented as clothing design. It can mean shapes of collars etc..., although it can be problematic to analyse clothing in linguistic manner”. Moreover, he used the theories of Seigo Matsuoka, an editorial engineer, to critically reflect on how ideas arise. According to Matsuoka, the world is composed of a sum of information and the idea is the synthesis of this; this is where intuitive enlightenment begins. To better explain his investigation, Mizuno assembled diagrams to help us visualise the links between all parts, and to identify clusters and reoccurring patterns.

Another project he is working on is Belonging and Belongings with STBY, a social research service for design innovation. It examines identity through different means and how style is associated to location; in other words, how a context can alter what is communicated by a subject, and conversely, how a subject can influence the perception of a place.
What arose is that the most common objects of daily use, like clothing, often encompass the most complex considerations, including social matters like identity, communication and moral values. Maybe it was the richness of this content, touching on such intricate, abstract and diverse subjects, that made us seem somewhat perplexed at the end of the presentation. Maybe it was the hidden theme of his lecture, as he later explained to me, that challenged our own preconceived notions - to demonstrate how theory, research and practice can be incorporated without conflicts.

The lecture would not have been complete without the workshop introduced by Bas Rajmakkers that followed. The students of the Man & Humanity Master programme were able to reflect on and discuss their own creative and research processes using a diagram based on Mastuoka’s concepts. In this way, Mizuno shared a part of his work in a more practical context, which gave us a better understanding to what intuition is linked in our personal research patterns.

Diagram used in the workshop to analyze our personal research process

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Resumè of the interview:Kiki van Eijk & Joost van Bleiswijk

Written by Maurizio Montalti

On march 4th we had the possibility to conduct an interview with two well-known dutch designers: Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk.

The interview started with an investigation for a better understanding of their perception of “time”, a subject strongly present and recognizable in most of their works. What emerged is a vision of time as something not very strict, but something that still exists and that’s reflected, for instance, in the time consuming pieces that are a result of the accurate polishing process in Joost’s work. At the same time he was highlighting how the past is still the present , and this can be found in the archetypes , where the concept of time does not exist anymore.

For Kiki, instead, time equals quality, time is life itself and it’s about enjoying things around you, referring to very personal things . Afterwards, Joost pointed out how his interest in architectural forms and construction methods, born from the experience in working and the curiosity of discovering elements, became a strong inspiration for his work. Initially he started highlighting the relevance of the translation of the round shaped feminine profiles into strong masculine representations, based on edges and squares, but when we tried to understand better this difference between masculine and feminine design he said that there’s not this big gap; it’s just something emotional and subtle.

Kiki, differently, was adressed with a question about the value of memory in her works, something she said is not really there; she described her designs as something much more related with quality and real craftmanship, objects not only functional but that also contain, in the way they are looking, an emotional feeling, like she found out in some books about old tools.
She said her inspiration comes out by itself, she’s never looking for it...it just happens...all of a sudden you open a drawer and there is something, asking her to create something with it; it’s an intuitive process, that she tries to lead to the creation of something very pure, helped by the unconscious active experience in materials and technology.

Then we came to talk about the influence and the relevance of Dutch Design in the past and in the “now” and they talked proudly about how Dutch Design had improved the world of design in general, even if nowadays it doesn’t really matter anymore; indeed sometimes it’s also becoming “bad” being dutch, as it is often associated with a marketing tool.

Talking about the educational system in The Netherlands, they were appreciating it a lot , and in particular they were underlining how the “Design Academy”, where they also studied previously offers a very good combination of a vague, “arty” approach and of the structured goal of education: in a way it’s an environment in which you’re always “forced” to go in depth, research, find what fascinates yourself...and explore yourself, find out the best for you as a person; that’s the main distinguishing carachteristic from any other institution, they said, the overall mentality...;and the fact that the academy is specialized in design...and just that.

When we came to talk about the design industry and the topic of “limited editions “, connected with the actual economic crisis , they pointed out how this phenomenon is not always “honest”.
They said that “limited editions” are there for a reason: they respond to the request for an expensive product in terms of time and materials. They said it wouldn’t be fair for the collectors to make endlessly pieces when they cost a lot...

At the same time some people are using these phenomenon as a tool to make more money, so that it becomes a trend, just by changing colors or materials of previous popular designs and increasing the price. They forecasted that these people and companies are gonna disappear, faced with this crisis, but the “Limited Editions” reality will still be there in its autenticity: things made by hand, attention to the detail and expansive materials and processes. They consider limited editions as an investment as they did it for quite years; and because of this there’s a value; because there’s a range of evolution over the years; it’s a keep-on-growing process.

Afterwards we talked a bit about Milan, adressing them with a question about their prevision on this year’s “Salone del Mobile” edition; they see the possibility of having something a bit less extravagant; they also decided not to have a solo show this year; they will only present projects they made for labels. And what they predict is that probably many designers will do like that.
Kiki was saying that this is because a solo show has to be at least at the same level of the previous one and to do so it needs time to develop a collection and also, because maybe there are more appropriate platforms for showing these kind of “limited edition” collections, like, for instance, “Design Miami/Basel”. Besides Joost said that it’s not necessary anymore for them to show their works in the popular Salone’s windows as they already know the press agents and the gallerists and they are not anymore in need of promotion and publicity. But never say never; it’s always a big fun to make a good show for a collection.

We ended the interview with a light question about the connection between food and design, something relevant for Kiki, that is also art director of “De Witte Tafel”, a resturant placed in the basement of the same building, in which the Design Academy is placed: for her working with food and design is just an interest, an opportunity that came out after her graduation and that she decided to develop, adressing it in the exactly same way she designs...creating connections, transparent visual feelings and fresh atmospheres. They both were very kind and warm. It’s been a pleasure.

Editorial article: Kiki van Eijk & Joost van Bleiswijk

Written by Michael Leung

Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk started with a photo of themselves in a workshop, both dressed up. In the picture, Kiki was leaning against her ‘High Table’ made with powder coated steel and Joost standing beside her, both staring a trophy in the ‘No Screw No glue’ series Joost had made for himself as he wanted one but have received none so far, he said. Kiki and Joost are known as part of the new generation talented Dutch designers. They graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven and started their studio since. Kiki is working on her own projects which have been exhibiting in many places and also work on projects for brands such as Swarovski and Moooi. Joost have been working mainly on his own projects like the ‘No Screw No glue’ series.

“Hands on” as the theme of the lecture, Joost explained how they set up the new studio in Strijp-s and showed us the before and after pictures. Like the theme, they prefer to really get their hands on making things, from their studio to their design, even the snacks in their exhibitions. They believe it is the way to design, really get your hands on to it. It’s also a reason that most of the works shown are limited editions. Like the first few pieces in the ‘No Screw No glue’. The material used is plywood, not the most precious or valuable material, but Joost said the time and effort they had to spend on it makes the difference. Also with the later pieces, which is made with stainless steel sheets that are laser cut and then polished and hand assembled. Another reason for making the limited editions is that they have to worry less about the production costs. It is also a way to protect their client since they believe it is not reasonable if someone paid so much for one piece, but they keep making them, which eventually diminishes the value of the object.

The lecture then divided into two parts, first with Kiki explaining her works and then Joost explaining the exhibitions they did during Milan Furniture Fairs and his works. The way they work is quite similar, focusing on the technique, material and archetypes, yet, the style is rather different. Kiki’s design is more emotional, like some elements repeatedly used in her design, which she personally links to. She explored different materials throughout her works and it is not difficult to see some well crafted details. Joost’s works is more masculine, like his ‘No Screw No glue’ series which he had worked quite a lot on. It is a series of limited edition objects that he made with plywood and stainless steel sheets. Like the title, it is all about the way the pieces are constructed in. with over 4 years of development, Joost now mastered the skill and is able to make more complicated objects through the simple structure.

The lecture ended with an interesting Q & A section. A question from the audience triggered Joost to give some very useful and practical advices, especially about the Milan Furniture Fair, where they have been showing their limited edition pieces. With the financial crisis, Kiki and Joost will be showing a lot less limited editions this year. Limited editions are now becoming limited. It is time to show some designs that are for users and not collectors.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ying Gao


It is not possible for us to stay away from fashion as clothing stay so close to our daily life. There is a close relationship between clothes and our own body as well as building up our own image. We are so close to “clothing” but how many of us know what it is. The definition of fashion changes constantly. Technology also affects the fashion industry and gives new idea to fashion designer. By thinking “clothing” as individual, somehow it also interacts with the environment.

With her interest in fashion and interactive technology, she is pushing the boundaries of what a garment could be. She covers a lot of her works which are more like statements than garments. “Walking city” is one of the best examples. The garments and sculpture, origami and draping interact with the environment by adding technology. The garment looks like it is breathing as human does. It seems like there is a human behind the beautiful form and structure of contemporary clothing. Besides showing videos of the apparel, she also shows the mechanism under the pieces while we are thinking how magical it is. The magical moment breaks when we heard the sound made by the mechanism. Ying Gao tells the students in the Design Academy, “I love the sound made by the mechanical movement that make the pieces more real.” Compare to the similar art projects by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, Ying Gao’s seems more interested in the technical elements and see the pieces as sculptures.

Through her works, it is not hard to see that she is more into the technology than the human body. By looking at her way of presenting the garments, most of them do not use models. She mentioned how fashion design always deal with “body” so she tends not to mention human body in her works. “My work is more static.” She said, “I want to put art into fashion.”

Ying Gao believes fashion is a sociological and cultural phenomenon. By looking at the “copy” in fashion industry, she makes a move to copy her own design and make a cheaper version with different material. Though she talked briefly about this issue, but it is obvious that the “copy” problem happens in all design fields in different ways.

Ying Gao is now living and teaching in Montreal, Canada. She enjoys the freedom of being a teacher than a fashion designer that needs to meet the deadline of manufacturer. She found the best of teaching is having the interaction with students and learn from each other. She also let her students participate in her projects and she enjoys working with them.

When we set too much boundaries, we will lost our creativity. Ying Gao reminds us to be creative and avoid making gadgets. No matter she is being a fashion designer, an artist or teacher, her main role is to make people dream and think more.

By Rony Chan

ying gao

It is not possible for us to stay away from fashion as clothing stay so close to our daily life. There is a close relationship between clothes and our own body as well as building up our own image. We are so close to “clothing” but how many of us know what it is. The definition of fashion changes constantly. Technology also affects the fashion industry and gives new idea to fashion designer. By thinking “clothing” as individual, somehow it also interacts with the environment.

With her interest in fashion and interactive technology, she is pushing the boundaries of what a garment could be. She covers a lot of her works which are more like statements than garments. “Walking city” is one of the best examples. The garments and sculpture, origami and draping interact with the environment by adding technology. The garment looks like it is breathing as human does. It seems like there is a human behind the beautiful form and structure of contemporary clothing. Besides showing videos of the apparel, she also shows the mechanism under the pieces while we are thinking how magical it is. The magical moment breaks when we heard the sound made by the mechanism. Ying Gao tells the students in the Design Academy, “I love the sound made by the mechanical movement that make the pieces more real.” Compare to the similar art projects by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, Ying Gao’s seems more interested in the technical elements and see the pieces as sculptures.

Through her works, it is not hard to see that she is more into the technology than the human body. By looking at her way of presenting the garments, most of them do not use models. She mentioned how fashion design always deal with “body” so she tends not to mention human body in her works. “My work is more static.” She said, “I want to put art into fashion.”

Ying Gao believes fashion is a sociological and cultural phenomenon. By looking at the “copy” in fashion industry, she makes a move to copy her own design and make a cheaper version with different material. Though she talked briefly about this issue, but it is obvious that the “copy” problem happens in all design fields in different ways.

Ying Gao is now living and teaching in Montreal, Canada. She enjoys the freedom of being a teacher than a fashion designer that needs to meet the deadline of manufacturer. She found the best of teaching is having the interaction with students and learn from each other. She also let her students participate in her projects and she enjoys working with them.

When we set too much boundaries, we will lost our creativity. Ying Gao reminds us to be creative and avoid making gadgets. No matter she is being a fashion designer, an artist or teacher, her main role is to make people dream and think more.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Alberto Meda - Workshop and Lecture

VLAG Group
Rony Chan -
video editing, lecture photos
Mie Frey Damgaard - graphics
Nichon Glerum - interviewer, lecture images
Luke Jenkins - essays, workshop images
Kitikoon Worrasorratorn
- video editing

Workshop February 9-11, Lecture and Interview February 11

Workshop Images


There are generally two rules for those who are invited to give Source lectures at the Design Academy: they must either be young, upcoming, and quickly rising, or a bit more mature and non-mainstream. Either way, the presenters do not have a long-standing fame to speak of. Perhaps between the lines the Academy may not be able to afford to pay for long-standing fame. So it came as a surprise when I found that I was to write a reportage on Alberto Meda, an Italian engineer-turned designer who many regard as a design idol.

Meda visited the Design Academy to run a three day workshop for the Man + Humanity students, which culminated in a general lecture on his work. Although his workshop built off of his most recent design, the humanitarian Solar Bottle, the designs which gave him most fame over the years were central to his lecture. These are artifacts of the post-industrial Italian design boom from the 1980’s and 1990’s, a time in which established production companies such as Kartell, Luceplan, Alessi, Olivetti, and Alfa Romeo Auto began to produce more “sophisticated” objects that focused on technical innovation rather than affordability. Meda, incidentally, worked with or for these companies, and many more, during this period. His work has become a paradigm for Italian design from those decades.

For instance, Meda presented Mix, a reading lamp produced by Luceplan in 2005, uses LED’s as a more energy efficient light source. Although this technology normally compromises the color balance of the light emitted, Meda and Luceplan were able to recreate pure white light, overcoming the given limits of this technology. It was subsequently awarded the “Light of the Future” and “Design Plus” awards in 2006. Four years later, Mix retails for €369, which, at least for me, is more expensive than the furniture I sit on while reading. It is indicative of the slim, minimal design coming out of Italy, which claims that the products that people surround themselves with should not visually or mentally interfere with one’s daily activities, give support when in use, and calmly disappear into the background when not needed.

Light Light, designed in 1984 and produced by Alias, was one of the pieces that helped Meda enter a design career from his background in engineering. It is a wonder of composite materials, utilizing the strengths of each material as reinforcement against the vulnerabilities of the other materials. Drawing from lightweight processes in the aerospace and racing industries, a honeycomb core of Nomex is sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber fabric. The result was the lightest traditional chair that had ever been industrially produced. Through economy of material and implementation of new materials, Meda was able to make this chair successful in 1984. However, in a contemporary context the worth of the piece may be more questionable. It does not address issues regarding the reuse of the chair, recyclability if it can’t be reused, or ethics/ecology of production methods.

Although it did not win Meda additional fame or awards, Partner, designed in 2000 for Kartell (and also designed with Paolo Rizzatto), suffers from a lack of ecological considerations before and after use. In this bookcase, two sheets of aluminum are used to rigidify a transparent plastic honeycomb structure. A special robot was designed to affix the sheets to the structure, using 80 plastic tacks for each shelf of the bookcase. Although this piece was produced in our current century, the hi-tech fabrication process has totally negated any chance at easily recycling the piece after it has reached its end of use. Tremendously stable (and relatively expensive), the object itself can be considered one that will be around for quite some time; most likely until the next time one redecorates, which is only a few years for the high-class establishments who purchase Kartell designs.
The three designs mentioned above were all included in his lecture, as they were technological achievements. While they are very interesting from a design history perspective, I had hoped that he would show us more of a build-up to his groundbreaking (at least for his portfolio) Solar Bottle, which has been designed to purify water using only solar energy. Meda hopes that it will be sold for €1.50 when it is put into production in developing nations. When researching his design work, I found several pieces that won little acclaim, but that, like the Solar Bottle, were ethically sensitive.

Water, designed in 2001 for Arabia Finland, is a carafe meant to celebrate the use of tap water for those in developed countries. Drinking from the tap will reduce the amount of plastic bottles and other disposable storage vessels from entering the waste cycle. Kalura, a project for Alessi, combines hi-tech ceramics with an antiquated object: a food warmer. Made almost at the same time as Water, this piece re-presents a technology used by peasants to conserve the use of cooking fuel. As the ceramic stores heat very well, it can be used to keep food warm well after it has been cooked.

Water and Kalura, like the Solar Bottle, both question the dependence the “Western” world has on technological advancement over other environmental concerns and social sustainability. They are much more thoughtful of the user, and how the user can be ethically influenced by design products, than much of his other work. Although they share the same visual sensibilities of his other work, these pieces are not minimal in the sense that they mentally interfere with the daily activities of the user. These products may work towards maturing technological processes, but they exist as objects that respectfully take the user into consideration, and are hence more humanitarian in concept.

While I would like to think that the Solar Bottle is the turning point in the career of this highly respected designer, the work that he showed in his lecture mainly epitomizes the mark of a great designer married to the industry which he has spent his whole profession supporting. However, when I consider some of his other work, I feel encouraged by his statement nearing the end of his lecture, that the designer has an “ethical responsibility to educate.” Hopefully, we will see him produce more work that demonstrates interactive education, rather than products which blend into the commercial or domestic landscape as design camouflage, essentially forgotten both in and out of use.

Lecture Images


2005 was a great year for hurricane lovers. Hurricane Wilma was the fourth storm to develop into a Cat 5, which is the highest strength. After it hit Cuba, and destroyed the tourist town of Cancún, Mexico, it brutalized southern Florida - it was one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever hit the Florida shores. All utility supply grids were damaged; most of South Florida had no electricity for weeks, and no running water for one week. Stores were closed, as there wasn’t electricity to keep them operating. The only water that my household had was the bathtub that we had half-heartedly filled in anticipation of a very weak storm. Rationing that water became a very important consideration, especially because we had no idea when running water would return to our area.

Cleaning, cooking, and drinking ceased to support one another, becoming adversaries all vying for attention. Finally, after almost one week, the bath was empty. The only option was to find a natural source of water, which, in the city of Fort Lauderdale, was the manmade canals used by yachts and other large vessels. Carrying a 20L bucket full of slimy, less than transparent water back to the apartment forced me to consider what modern infrastructure has gifted us with: the opportunity to worry about other things. When we returned to the apartment, it was time to boil the water down, to kill bacteria and hopefully boil off any petroleum. Luckily, the stovetop was heated with natural gas, so the water could be boiled without making a wood fire. Although I was doubtful that boiling the water would remove all impurities, it would most likely not make us sick. Giving one last twist to the water faucet, I was surprised to hear groans and spurts from the water pipes. Running water had been restored while we were on our water retrieval adventure. Relief.

Fast forward four years - I am a student at the Design Academy. When I learned that I would be attending a three day design workshop on water use and sanitation, I was intrigued. Organized for the Man + Humanity Department, the design charrette was fronted by Alberto Meda. Not knowing much about him, I went online to find out more. The results of my research made me quite skeptical of his value to a program based in humanitarian design. He is something of a design giant in Italy and a known name in the rest of the world for pieces which are minimal, elegant, and expensive. This type of design is precisely what many of us in the program intend to avoid designing.

It seemed that the Solar Bottle, designed by himself and Francisco Gomez Paz, was the only object that he had designed that took people’s basic survival needs into consideration. Much of the rest was office furniture that was more about pushing technology and materials and less about rethinking how normal people use these objects. So I looked further into this piece. It seemed to be very well thought out, and was intended for those in developing nations. It followed his minimal design aesthetic. It checked all of the right places on the solar water disinfection checklist. It won several international design awards, such as the Index Award in 2007. And the product is still only at the level of nonfunctional prototype, as Meda and Paz continue their search for producers who can meet the €1.50 retail goal. In the field of hardcore industrial design that Meda is grafted to, it is surprising to see a mere prototype gain such recognition, especially one that does not function.

Perhaps Meda, a father figure to a younger generation of designers, was given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps everyone agreed with the implications of distributing the Solar Bottle. Perhaps critics foresaw a reformation of a design giant who is known for his material and process-based products, into one whose products are more user-centric. Perhaps, at the end of the day, those who praised this design did so because they were able to envision a life without access to drinkable water. Back in Florida, life without utilities was like being on vacation. Then the bathtub was dry, and life gained an essential sense of seriousness. Had I been confronted with this reality for my entire life, how would a Solar Bottle change my life? In this context, it is easy to support this project on many levels, as well as easy to support Meda. When you meet him, it is easy to see that his care is genuine. Although he presents himself as a simple man and a simple designer, and, when confronted with complex systems in design ethics, replies, “that’s for your generation to figure out,” his generous gift to the design world is evident in a simple object that fuses mass-production materials and technology with an authentic concern for the user.

Interview Images

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Extra: Video Interview Satyendra Pakhale online

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.

This video interview has been published on Google Video, so it's there to watch!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lecture Simone De Waart + Ton Teerling

Materials & experience, a Sense of touch and smell
January 28 2008

Vlag team :
Seo Jeonghwa
Riviere Aurelien
Ito Fumiko
Chiang Ping Fan
Cadamuro Alessia

As students of design, in training to become masters of the profession, one would imagine a lecture from a fellow designer, an expert in materials, would bare more weight and raise more response then a food and taste psychologist working in a seed company, who came to lecture about the nose. But when Ton Teerling had finished his presentation, he was flooded by questions from eager students. Why?

Simone de Waart, an industrial designer, a material expert and an educator, had come to lecture about her expertise - materials. In 45 minutes, she had shared her view on the design process as one that should consider it’s materiality from the beginning, discussed the link between materials and experience, and presented a few of the projects she was involved with, most recently with the NS trains in Holland. It had been quite informative, and it had a point, and the audience was lost.

At first it seemed lost because of a few rules of design lectures broken: not enough pictures of products, not a lot of discussion about “real projects” (she couldn't share much on those), not enough controversial statements. It was a nice, safe, informative lecture in a quiet, self-assured voice. But when Ton Teerling took the stage he seemed to have broken most of the same rules, and still he kept his crowd fascinated.

Wearing a suit, Talking in a field much different from design, with a presentation so un-esthetic that even an accountant might suggest some font and color considerations, maybe even a picture or two, Ton had grabbed his audience from the get-go. Talking about the awesome power of recognition over our minds, and the way smell could be used to channel it (among other things), he jumped from side to side, talking fast and enthusiastically, keeping all eyes and ears on him. He even concluded his lecture with a list of reasons why designers shouldn't use smell in their objects, like he was trying to convince us his lecture was not really useful. Yet, the moment he finished speaking, the audience was shooting questions one at a time, eager to learn more about scent and recognition.

What was it that made his lecture so memorable and Simone’s so forgettable? At first, one might say its charisma. Ton seems like the kind of man who could convince an Eskimo to by sun tan lotion. His enthusiastic way of speaking and the genuine curiosity he beams (and of course his knowledge of human psychology), creates a man who makes most of what he says interesting enough to listen to.

But eventually, I think the real issue is that the designers where refreshed by the “unrelated topic”. It sometimes seems that lectures by designers on design have little to learn from. The information is circling between students, and most of them keep informed on-line. The designers sometimes get tired with hearing about design. Yet when introducing them with a new field, the wheels begin to turn. It is a profession in search of new, unpredictable influences, with an eagerness to know at least a little about a lot.
Ton’s lecture seemed to do so well simply because it wasn’t design. It was fresh, like a sip of water on a warm day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arie van Rangelrooy Lecture

Source 04-02-2009

Arie van Rangelrooy confesses: he is not a hippie. When he leaves for Mali in the seventies, it is not to follow some spiritual or mystical path...
A year before graduating, the practical student is indeed advised to go to Djenné for a "spotting" mission by a teacher seeking for volunteers (mission that was to become his graduation project).

Djenne, it is a historically important small city in the Niger Inland Delta of central Mali. It is one of the oldest known cities in sub-Saharan Africa and its historic city center was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.

This happened some years after Arie van Rangelrooy went to this place, where he was researching the city, the architecture, the urban planning, the living spaces, …

He traveled to another continent to stay there one year. During this year he was productive in measuring, drawing and archiving the cities architecture. This work lead to the protection of the city by UNESCO.

During the stay he connected to the people, their way of living and the culture. "We all know about misery and the huge differences between both lifestyles, but when it comes to seeing it, to experiencing it for real, you realize how hard their life can be and how lucky and disconnected we are" he says, still touched.
At this point, his African experience became all about exchange. Exchanging techniques, skills. Collaborating with local maçons, contributing to increase their efficiency, to facilitate their practice, yet not spoiling their ancestral building protocol. A humble observation and dialogue, he expected to have a proper social purpose.

He would go outdoors during the day, measure the streets, houses and rooms, while in the evening he would put all of this into plans. As there was no electricity and minimal contact with the outside world he would archive even the smallest ornamental decoration.

During the lecture he was talking passionately about the city and it’s architecture. And it is just the kind of architecture that makes the city interesting. Architecture of mud.

Why? Being close to the Sahara desert, the area lacked building materials such as wood and stone. People learnt to build houses with the mud from the Niger River. When the mud is mixed with rice husks and straw and fermented for a month, it becomes very tough, thick and rain resistant. To build a house, local people first lay sun-dried mud bricks. The brick walls are covered in mud plaster. This protects the inside of the house from the heat.

He talked about this, showing related pictures. Also reminding us of how this tradition was preserved. As the centuries passed by, the inhabits would restore their houses during the dry season. Although when Arie arrived this tradition went lost, as he arrived in a bad economic situation, where you have other priorities.

After the work of Arie and the protection of the site, the city was restored and now even grows again. Arie regularly goes back, and works together with master mud builder Boubacar Kouroumanssé. Together their busy with building an museum and school, using century old techniques. The changes with what Arie archived 20 years ago, is the fact that they now include electricity and running water into the building process. Also the “making a plan and reading the plan” is introduced in the process.

During the talk we had after the lecture, van Rangelrooy emphasized on the importance of social commitment in the practice of applied arts.
We also mentioned the difficulty to commit oneself in projects that make sense still making a living... According to Arie van Rangelrooy, this balance between ideals and survival is to be achieved once one has "showed its mettle".

Wise Arie first made a nice career in the Netherlands before recently going back to Mali.
He finally reached freedom of creation through social commitment because he was wise. Wise enough to wait. Wise enough to grow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Daijiro Mizuno PhD (RCA) -Fashion Research and Design-

“By looking at the space in between clothing and a body, both theoretically and practically, I aim to explore the fundamental aesthetics of fashion design in which the clothing and the body are harmonised.”

by Carolina dos Santos Reis
Although he was born in Tokyo in 1979, Daijiro Mizuno acquired all his university education in the UK. He completed an MA in Fashion Design in womenswear at the Royal College of Art and a BA in Fashion Design at the University of East London after having started studies in architecture. Then, he proceeded to investigate the non-verbal dimensions of fashion through its cultural characteristics for his PhD thesis while working for Shelley Fox as a part-time design assistant.
He has been teaching in Japan since 2006 at Kyoto University of Art and Design and at the Seian University of Art and Design, and also acting as a director at Critical Design Lab, a part of Kyoto University. Furthermore, he exhibited at the Royal College of Art and at the Dojidai Gallery, Kyoto.

In order to explain his projects, I will mainly cite his own words, not simply because it was the only information we received, but also in an attempt to provide the most accurate description of his work.
His previous project was entitled paperbag! girls, where he researched “on young girls reusing ‘brand’ shopping bags not in the context of recycling but in the context of consumption and (re)production of image”.
Also, he is currently working on two projects. The first is a joint project with the STBY and is entitled “Belonging and Belongings, investigating the relationship between virtual / real identity through the objects people carry”. The second one is “Universal Fashion, exploring the critical view on fashion design in the context of universal design”. Moreover, he explores “issues such as functionality, aesthetics, semiotics and commerciality in the cross-disciplinary manner”.

Focusing on such immaterial considerations in his practice, Daijiro Mizuno demonstrates the deep potential of the discipline and its link to a very wide range of social and individual considerations.
Despite the lack of data available on him, it can be said that his career has been oriented in a mostly theoretical manner, and that he seems to link his research into his creative work. The trajectory of his path is clear evidence of how his interest and passion directed his career into research, but it doesn’t reveal much about his personal motivation. All in all, Daijiro Mizuno appears to be a rather enigmatic character, who will definitely have much to share - especially from an academic point of view - when he visits the Design Academy on Friday, 27 February, 2009. Personally, I have a lot of expectations and I am looking forward to discovering Daijiro Mizuno.

Daijiro Mizuno PhD
Shelley Fox

The Stone Twins in flesh and bones

by Carolina dos Santos Reis

The Stone Twins sounds more like the title of a Victorian novel than a duo of trendy graphic designers. But there is a storytelling feeling to their name that perfectly describes these Irish twin brothers and their creative process. They presented their work in a lecture at the Designhuis on the evening of 11 February, 2009. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual. The audience, made up of a group of designers and students, attended the presentation on the cushioned staircase of the entrance hall.
Declan and Garech Stone both graduated in Visual Communication at the University of Dublin. Soon after, they moved to Amsterdam, not only because of the lack of opportunity in Ireland, but for a genuine fascination for Dutch culture in design and arts. They set up their own studio and from their first days consistently created with inventiveness and humour while remaining profoundly rigorous in the study of typography and visual communication.
They characterise their approach as graphic designers more in branding and identity than in the development of graphics. When commissioned for a project, they start by questioning the brief itself before going forward. This produces work that transcends common graphic communications, work that has made them stand out since the beginning of their practice. Their clients are very diverse, ranging from event and marketing agencies to the Zeews Museum and Adidas. Even with the most corporate of clients, they don’t hesitate to take things literally. This is maybe what inspired them to shoot the ADCN yearbook with a gun rather than a camera. Another interesting projects is the Logo R.I.P. publication, a funerary journey through logos that have become part of a whole cultural heritage, but have since been slowly disappearing through the massive re-branding of the 80s and 90s.
On the whole, they shed light on the importance of thinking both formally and theoretically in negative spaces. For the Stone Twins, graphic design is all about storytelling and creating content. Still, as designers we make choices and therefore have the ability to influence. We not only have the responsibility of making ethical choices through our process, but also to question the system of the design world. The Stone Twins, for example, mentioned the boycott of a specific pitch - a practice that has become very common, but sometimes having negative effects, especially for young startups.
Despite their inspirational words on the design world, there was a somewhat sterile feel to the presentation whose cause I am still unable to grasp. Maybe they were just tired. But my impression is that they might have restrained themselves in order not to contradict each other, which might have made them less dynamic. Indeed, it was amusing to see that they were not giving the same answers during the Q&A period. But then didn’t they say that hopefully their work was schizophrenic?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gert Staal

Vlag group : Hanna Chung, Carl Harris, Chulan Kwak

Date: 21 January 2009
Article: Carl Harris
Photography: Hanna Chung, Chulan Kwak

Gert Staal Workshop

On the 21st January 2009 Gert Staal a writer on design, and a regular visitor to the design academy, conducted a writing workshop. The workshop was designed to be an exercise in creating ideas for the up and coming source publication. After a late start, we were asked to group together and think about how the source publication should be materialised.

We were given a time frame of one an half hours, and were asked to think “outside the box’. The exercise seemed to be well received. Many students liked the challenge of coming up with concepts and ideas in such a short space of time. After the group session, we all congregated in the lecture room where we were asked to present our ideas.

What started off as a promising creative exercise, descended into a long and painful talk about the structure of the program, and the positive and negative aspects of the project. Gert Staal looked helpless and decided to reframe from getting into the crossfire of discussion. The words ‘short discussion’ seemed unimaginable farcical even, whilst the debate raged forth for another hour.

The arduous task of separating concerns for the course and the actual reasoning of the day came to fruition, as Gert Staal decided to take back the lead and put the workshop back on track.

Gert Staal’s teaching approach is extremely pertinent, he posed questions that were well received and had no condescending nature to them. One of Gert Staal’s biggest qualities is his ability to motivate and get the best from the class. He uses anecdotes that keeps the audience interested, but always relates it to the matter at hand.

After a prolonged day the main points of the publication were decided and two teams had emerged (Editorial and Design Team). Many students left the master space feeling, exhausted and slightly annoyed that a workshop with Gert Staal had been tainted by an administrative discussion.

The phrase ‘productive end to a pitiful start’ sprang to mind.

-Carl Harris