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Order & Sense Restored @ Design Academy Eindhoven

It has been a tense fortnight for Dutch design.  But after last-minute talks this week, the DAE Master's Programme will continue after the summer just as as Gijs Bakker intended it, and all three department heads will return to their positions.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 20-07-2012

Since the three heads of the Design Academy Eindhoven’s Master’s programme announced their resignation two weeks ago, an interesting debate erupted about design education, bureaucratic micro-management, trust and the necessity of providing teachers (who are all design professionals) with enough freedom to follow their instincts and shape courses according to each student’s needs.

All three heads – Jan Boelen, Louise Schouwenberg and Joost Grootens - stood firm, refusing to budge on what they believed was the only way to educate designers in a Master’s programme.  

The system was set up by Gijs Bakker and was celebrated as one of the world’s best.  Under no circumstances were any of the department heads going to let administrators destroy what Bakker had built without a fight.

This afternoon a press release was issued acknowledging that Boelen, Schouwenberg and Grootens would return after the summer with the system they so fundamentally believed in in tact.

“We started talking this Tuesday,” Boelen says.  “It was the first time I got a chance to properly explain face-to-face with the supervisory board what our position was.  We believe in this system absolutely and can not accept anything less.”

Aldo Bakker attended the meeting with Boelen as a mediator.  Chairwoman (and Director) Anne Mieke Eggenkamp was not present.

“What was strange is that it was like they were hearing these arguments for the first time,” says Boelen.  

After two hours of discussions, Bakker and Boelen were asked to leave for half an hour while the board deliberated.  When they returned, they were offered exactly what they had been fighting for all along.

After the summer break, all three department heads will return to their positions.

“I think this shows the supervisory board needs to be extended,” Boelen says. “There are not enough actual designers on there who really understand what matters.  I think this needs to be addressed in the future.”

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