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How do Design Academy students feel about the future?

29 October 2018

Don Kwaning | Jan van Tienen
Creators (Vice) asked graduates from Design Academy Eindhoven if they still have hope for the future.

The nice thing about design is that it has such an optimistic attitude towards the future. Perhaps this is because designers are not only creating ideas, but also have to convert those ideas into concrete tangible objects. You see, this is all possible!

Dutch Design Week (DDW) also provides an optimistic vision for the future: "Designers come up with solutions, create innovations, are progressive, make things tangible and functional. They look at their surroundings and the world in a unique way. "
Personally, I’m rather pessimistic about the future, when I look at the rise of fascism, extreme climate change and influencer, but I would be glad to get influenced by the enthusiasm of others. That’s why I went to the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven to ask young, newly graduated designers, who I thought they would be interested in the future, whether and how optimistic they are, and why.

Vivien Vuong
© Jan van Tienen

With Collective Breath, Vivien Vuong (right on the picture) made a kind of textile that responds to breath – if you blow on one of the three sensors, the textile bubbles and breathes and moves. Vivien has an optimistic vision about the future, but according to her something has to happen: "We have to get out of our bubbles," she says. "Something like breathing together is important. My work is based on Spell of the Sensuous, a great book by David Abram that combines a quest for ecology and spirituality. We have to work together. In ancient languages, 'the spirit', 'the wind' and 'breath' are often synonyms for each other. By breathing together, we get back to each other, we think together some more. That’s the goal of my work, and I hope for such a future. "

Rosa Dietz
© Jan van Tienen

Big Vief, the graduation project of Rosa Dietz, centers around a cycling safari through Drenthe. The term Big Vief refers to the Big Five in Africa: the elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard. But instead it is about animals like the Bonte Bentheimer, the Dutch Land Goat and the Blaarkop from Groningen. "The Blaarkop is a kind of cow, which is just as rare as the Chinese Giant Panda," says Rosa. "The Dutch do not realize that a lot of such beautiful, rare animals die out, just because they don’t produce enough things that are useful to humans. Cows used to give 1,000 liters of milk a year, now that could easily be 12,000 liters. Chickens used to lay twelve eggs a year, now around three hundred. "
"I’m looking forward to the future," she says. "But I still believe that if people are aware of alternatives, and know that they have to make small-scale and local purchases, something can change. And that is ultimately what I think design can do: make people aware of these kinds of facts. "

Sem Leutscher
© Jan van Tienen

Sem Leutscher also believes in a future with less stuff. She makes vases that are colored with particulate matter and emissions from ships, she explains. "In the seventeenth century, products that were transported with distant boat trips were rare and valuable. Today, ships are incredibly polluting," she says. "Ninety percent of the stuff you have, come here by ship. That's why I made these vases, to make people aware of the fact that we get too much stuff from elsewhere. "
Our future would be better if we bought less things, she continues. "That's why I don’t like classic design. It just makes mess look nice, so we can buy more things. But what we need are more sustainable products. "

Ola Korbańsk
© Jan van Tienen

"We need more gender equality. And less design. There are too many things. "

Ola Korbańska stood next to her installation PURITY IS TEMPORARY. "For this work I was inspired by the 'Black Protest' in Poland, which is directed against the church and government. They want to abolish abortion completely, which is madness –women are going to die because of that. My design is a protest action: with these mopeds I cleaned places where the power resides – a church for example, or the parliament – and afterwards I used them to make this banners behind me. "
When I ask if she is optimistic about the future, she says she does not know. If I ask her what kind of future she hopes for, she is clearer: "We need more gender equality. And less design. There are too many things. "

Don Kwaning
© Jan van Tienen

Don Kwaning (left in the picture) graduated cum laude with the project Medulla. For this he made packaging material from the foamy core of a type of weed that is common in Drenthe. If I ask him about the future, he laughs. "I do not know. Somewhere I'm pretty pessimistic. I have developed this material partly in response to all that polluting packaging material lying around in the environment. My material can be a more sustainable, more circular solution to our packaging problem. But whether my specific solution will save the future? Who knows. "
When I ask him why the design world usually comes across as optimistic, he says: "Well, what I do believe is that actually all these designers at least strive for a better world. I mean, I'm going to develop my own material, to see what is possible with it. The designers you see here, try to show what is possible on a small scale. But who knows what will happen one day. "

Mikaela Steby Stenfalk
© Jan van Tienen

Mikaela Steby Stenfalk made work about influencers in the museum, and how that affects art. When I ask how optimistic she is about the future, she talks about the growing role of Instagrammable art in the museum. "Museums and curators look closely at which art is getting posted on Instagram. This affects both the curator, the artist and ultimately the public. And thus the entire art world. "
So how does she see a better future for herself? A future in which all influencers are dead? "Haha no, a future in which I'm a curator in a beautiful museum."

Arjan Matteo
© Jan van Tienen

Arjan Matteo Das has made a lamp that imitates the magic of a solar eclipse. "In the past, a solar eclipse was an extremely dramatic event, which people did not understand. Because of technology we have come so much further and we understand so much more. Of course the future is partly fucked. But believe me: we will get out of this. I really believe in humanity and that we can solve problems.” When ask how he sees the future, he reacts extremely cheerful:" I just graduated!"

By Jan van Tienen, editor at Vice | Creators