How does a region profile itself internationally through design? For Design Cooperation Brainport’s exhibition at Istanbul Design Week, the key elements were networks – in business, education, design and industry – the business of design and the everyday. The jam-packed, compact exhibition stand itself reflected the density of activity in the Eindhoven region: around 60 objects were exhibited on the 100m2 stand.
Curated by Zuzanna Skalska, trend watcher at VanBerlo, Design strategy + Product development, the fifth edition of the Made in Brainport series of exhibitions entitled Six Degrees of Smart Society takes its cue from the idea of six degrees of separation. Here six themes (Wellbeing, Technology, Farming, Craft, Environment, Local) were illustrated via a curated presentation of products and projects differentiated into emotional and rational zones: the emotion and rational representing the functioning of the brain but also a characteristic way of thinking in Dutch design. (on an interesting side note, not all aspects could be represented, however, in particular those products with a biological origin didn’t make it through quarantine restrictions).
The exhibition showcases the predominant sectors in the Eindhoven region – Automotive, Care, Design, Energy, Food, Healthcare and Home offering not only thoughts about technologies, aesthetics or design thinking but also a cultural introduction into Dutch daily life. “Farming is not just about farm life, but about the production and preparation of food, which has since time immemorial been the function of the countryside – certainly here in the Province of North-Brabant,” Skalska explains. “Environment is about the quality of life, and Craft about the innovative applications of traditional know-how in the region. And Local is about the region itself, by way of an introduction.”
Throughout the exhibition, as the title suggests, collaborations and connections are integral: between industry and education, manufacturers and designers for example. “The lines are short in this region- everyone knows each other. This makes developments proceed very rapidly! That is the guiding theme at the exhibition: good design doesn’t just happen, but is the result of a successful collaboration between designers, training institutes, SMEs, the industry.”
The juxtaposition of emotion and ration essentially showed two polar opposites of Dutch design under one umbrella. It was interesting to compare the approach of the conceptual (emotional) products/projects with the industrial (rational) within the context of the same theme and observe that they don’t need to be at loggerheads with each other. For instance in Farming, a soup server machine designed by Vendinova/VanBerlo promising fresh soup efficiently prepared in a compact machine is included alongside a beautifully crafted lunchbox by Van Eijk/Van der Lubbe that encourages its owners to take joy in bringing their own home-made sandwich to their work. Similarly in Healthcare, Brigitte Coremans’ Miscarriage coffins touch a raw emotional nerve whereas Philips’ MyHeart, is a pragmatic research concept that enables the heart and breathing rate of a person to be measured while they are sleeping via textile sensors integrated into the pillow case and bed sheet. Considering the boundaries where the emotional and rational crossover, can we think more about how conceptual thinking and industrial design can complement each other more?
Design-wise, the Netherlands excels in the integration of design into the everyday and the exhibition strongly supported this image. Skalska: “I wanted to show that design is not only about fancy names and brands. It’s about design in everyday objects. I also wanted to show where creativity meets the business side: design means business and business means design. In the context of Turkey, where the economy is relatively booming and the search for a contemporary identity is increasingly important, I wanted to show how this identity could also be closely connected to the local industries.”
Other designers and companies featured in the exhibition include Jo Meesters, Piet Hein Eek, Ahrend, Dirk van der Kooij, Studio OOOMS, Kiki van Eijk/Royal VKB, Batavus and Yksi. The exhibition was designed by Lilian van Stekelenburg.
Further Dutch participation during Istanbul Design Week included lectures by Lidewij Edelkort, Mattmo, Hans Robertus and an exhibition of the finalists and winners of the 2010 Dutch Design Awards.
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