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Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation Galleries Part I

Some critics say that this year's galleries lacked the pizzazz of past years, but we found a tangible humility that responded well to the changing design environment.  A lot of the ideas focussed on people and the environment, rather than the creation of big-ego products.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 28-10-2009

The René Smeets Prize for the most promising designer with the best graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven was awarded this year to Bas van der Veer.

More simple and functional than previous winners, Van der Veer’s work fits into the push for design that leaps forward towards the sort of tangible lifestyle changes that reflect current realities.

His inspiration came from the rain barrel in his parents’ garden.  “But they hardly use it,” Van der Veer says.  “I figured that if I could make it easier to use rain water, more people would.”

“A Drop of Water” fits against a wall catching rainwater as it comes falling down through the rain pipes.  Once the attached watering can fills up, the back cavity is big enough to collect and hold a further 55 litres of water.

After a slow start at the Design Academy, Van der Veer knew he was on to a good graduation idea when he started to focus on saving rainwater.  “It’s a practical solution to a common problem and everyone can use it,” he says. “And saving water is such a hot topic … but still I was surprised I won because the standard seems so high this year.”

One of’s favourites was a jewellery project, “Hosting Parasites” by Katharina Ludwig - an almost grotesque comment on the role of balance in a relationship.  “There is always a search for give and take,” explains Ludwig, “and partners are at once parasite and host.”

Ludwig made a series of ceramic parasites that attach to the body in various ways. “I think people like these because they find them intriguing,” Ludwig says.  “They are beautiful and confrontational, but they also make us feel uncomfortable.”

The work is a reflection of the real world and like all of Ludwig’s work is very people-centric. “I am always inspired by human life around me,” she says.  “I like to listen to their stories.”  She started with the German word bindung, which means connection or binding either of physical objects, or in the less tangible territory of human relations.  “From there I started to get more interested in how jewellery binds itself to the body,” she says.

The Design Academy staff appreciated Ludwig’s work, but also pointed out that it hardly sat with the the criteria of her department, “Man and Wellbeing”.   “But they were very curious,” she says.  “I think I had a good hook and after that the story catches people because it is so strange and unfamiliar.”

Jetty van Zwieten’s “De Prachtwijkpionier” project responded to the political attack against so-called problem neighbourhoods.  She designed maps that introduce people to the most interesting and unexpected spots of these lesser understood locales.  Restaurants, unique architecture and inspiring residents are pointed out and the most interesting companies are then teamed up with similar enterprises in more trendy city hubs.

“One upon a time there was a little girl,” starts Petra Lammers.  “From the moment of her birth, the government thought it would be a good idea to start building up a file about her family situation and her health.  Later she was continuously kept an eye on.  At the swimming pool she had to let them take a scan of her finger.  One day she discovered that she was being followed by a huge glass eye, even when she was playing hide-and-seek.  The little girl cried out …”

“Cry For Freedom” is a tapestry on which Lammers explores the bizarre way that not just her little protagonist, but all of us are starting to live.  “It was during my internship that the new chip system that tracks our travels was introduced in the Netherlands,” she says.  “I really didn't like it and started to get more interested in privacy and the way our personal data is collected and stored by the government.”   

As the child starts to grow older, she realizes her dire predicament and screams out in hope that someone might hear.  Lammers’ original graduation presentation included the idea that her tapestry be hung in the walls of a government building. “Imagine if people could see the work, read the story and then become more informed about the type of building they were in,” she says.

Digna Kosse’s “Minimal Dresses” is an exploration of how clothes get worn out not through wear and tear, but through rapidly changing fashions.  “The fashion industry uses an enormous amount of material and I feel that an appearance can be changed without such unnecessary consumption,” she says.

To explore her point, Kosse designed “Minimal dresses,” which are recognizable items of clothing made from a minimal amount of material and thread.  The intriguing albeit unwearable results led to some discussion amongst the external examiners, but faculty head, Irene Fortuyn,  supported and guided Kosse throughout.  "In the 'Man and Leisure' department there is more freedom to be more conceptual," Kosse says.  "We can present an image or a vision not just a thing."

Emiel van Boekels’ “Artificial Mammoth” explores the idea of human dependence on supermarkets for the necessities of life.  “This is in stark contrast with how people had to ensure their survival in the past,” says Van Boekel.  “In prehistoric times, people had huge natural adversaries that had to be hunted for food.”

The abstract object Van Boekel created at first looks like a mere designer chair, but on another level it symbolizes this dependence on produced and luxury goods.  It’s a fictional prehistoric beast that can be used as a chair, but turn it around, and the beast’s organs can be pulled out.

“The teachers were surprised because they also thought it was just a chair,” Van Boekel says.  “Nobody expected the ritual – that the beast can be physically slaughtered. In a playful manner I want to get people thinking about our origins.”

The idea came to Van Boekel during his internship in China.  “In those great crowded cities you can not see where anything originally came from,” he says.  “It was impossible to tell that originally you had nature, then a small village and then a structured city because there is no structure.  Nothing of the original remains.”

And likewise with “Artificial Mammoth”.  It’s a chair with little to no relation to its origins.

Jet Scholte poured beeswax into a silicone mould to create outdoor lamps.  “Beeswax fits beautifully into a natural environment,” says Scholte.  “It gives a yellowish glow and smells pleasant when heated.  The lamps, called “Late-Bloomer” contain LED lights powered by solar cells so self-charge during daylight.

And lastly Zoubida Tulkens looked at the short life span of cut flowers and tried to devise ways of more permanently capturing their beauty.  “I like the idea of creating something of value from waste,” she says.  In “Rosae” she created wallpapers from dried petals.  She collected rejected roses from flower growers, removed the petals and made each one smooth using an iron.  With natural glue and paper, she created the wallpaper – each sheet has its own pattern and four sheets together create a larger pattern.

Images from top: Bas van der Veer's "A Drop of Water", Katharina Ludwig's parasite jewellery, Jetty van Zwieten’s “De Prachtwijkpionier”, Petra Lammers' "Cry For Freedom", Digna Kosse's "Minimal Dresses", Emiel Van Boekel "Artificial Mammoth", Jet Scholte's beeswax lamps and Zoubida Tulkens' petal wallpaper.  All images except Zwieten's by Damian Thomas of Rubberneckphotos.

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