German Design wants to show the truth. Dutch Design wants to show what could be true.
Update: I wanted to publish this article last year after my visit of Dutch Design Week. But as you all know time flies and now we are again looking forward for this years exhibition ;-) Maybe see you there in October!
For nearly six years now i’ve been visiting the „Dutch Design Week“ in Eindhoven to get inspired by design-thinking outside the box. Luckily we are in Europe and so you can find a different perspective behind nearly every border. I personally really love the Dutch Design Scene.
What’s so different in the way of thinking about design in this little country in the west? Let me illustrate this with a question: Can you remember a design event in your country where technical engineers show their work alongside with fashion- or industrial-designers? I’m afraid you can not. We like to keep it seperated here.
Let’s go trough a few examples which i chose from my personal favourites this year (which might not be the ones who got officially awarded )
My first stop every year is the final presentation of the Design Academy Eindhoven. The New York Times recently called this school ‘the most influential design school in Europe’ in it’s international issue. The two examples here are from this year’s exhibition there. But you can find inspiring work at nearly every exhibition during this week.
The first work is a master class final project from Louisa Zahareas. It’s called “screen mutations”. What you see on the photograph below are a weird designed teapot and a deformated cake which seem to come out of a painting from Salvadore Dali.
But have you ever skyped with your friends or relatives abroad and tried to have a “virtual” coffee table or breakfast? It’s a common practice to keep in contact over long distances today. You might have recognized that all the objects you see on the screen — for example the teapot or cups — look deformed and ugly. That’s the effect of the camera lens. There are now two things you can do: First is, you don’t bother. It’s just a technical limitation. Nothing interesting. But second you might think: Why does it have to be that way? What do i have to change to make it look right? Isn’t it a need in our days where more and more things are happening on screen? Now you are into the experimentation-design-mode. At the end you might come up with this beautiful solution. These deformed teapots, spoons and even the cake are looking perfectly shaped through the lens of a desktop camera.
The side effect is: you come up with real design objects, you never ever would have come up with if you just thought in terms of good design or „Gute Form“.
The second project i want to share with you is „Hackjes“ from David van der Stel. I love these ideas which hack normal things and uses them for something completely different. But what i really find brilliant here is to come up with a set of tools to do it yourself, as to say a hack-your-world-kit.
Prove me wrong but when i compare these work with the work i see every year in the german design exhibitions like red-dot or german-design-award, i miss these surprising new perspectives and experimental approach a lot. Maybe it’s there but did not make it through the competition or it’s not seen as design but more as art. At the end i think it’s a different way of what it means to be designing something. While the Nederland Designer might think, why can’t this be true? What happen if i do it the other way round? The german designer might think: How can i improve the work of my category? Or how can i solve a problem for ever? Just compare the two Websites of both organisations who represent the design awards in Germany and Nederland and you will see, what i mean. Which one do you think, promises a fresh and inspiring event? … yes your right.
Things could become very boring if you loose yourself in categorizing, optimizing and aiming for the perfect solution.
We really should try to learn from each other. I think there is room for more out-of-the-box thinking in our design scene and maybe there is also a need for the netherland designers to test there unseen and often a little bit crazy ideas in a country like Germany which is focused on hard facts and solutions for a much more wider audience of 80million people. Would be great to see …