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Graduation Show Design Academy Eindhoven

15 November 2019

Design Academy Eindhoven,<br /> Cleo Goossens
Every year a new group of students graduates from Design Academy Eindhoven. In the historic building De Witte Dame, in the centre of Eindhoven, the students learn how to work with materials, present their designs but also how to critically reflect on them. The school is known for its global relevance and its influence reaches all elements of the design world. As a result, Design Academy Eindhoven is one of the top international design schools adding to Eindhoven and The Netherlands as important design locations. With great excitement do we await the annual Graduation Show that marks the end of the students’ educational career and is an annual highlight during Dutch Design Week (DDW).

For the second time, the large retrospective exhibition was held at another location away from De Witte Dame, and took place in the former Campina dairy factory. The large industrial halls formed the perfect backdrop for the graduates' work. This year, the presentation itself was also critically re-evaluated as a new strategy for curating blurs the boundaries between the four Master's and eight Bachelor's programmes. It sheds new light on the way in which designers present their work. By doing so, the school hopes to stimulate more debate and interaction.

A breath of fresh air

Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) states that contemporary designers must answer two essential questions: How does he see the world around him and what position does he take in it? With these questions in mind, Graduation Show 2019 explored how design projects can visualise possible answers to these questions. This year's show was based on eight world views and five design positions. This new selection mingled all departments and the Bachelor and Master projects. The 61 master projects highlighted the five attitudes a designer can adopt: Performer, Critical Observer, Material Appropriator, Situated Agent, and Empath.

The eight different world views originate from the 120 bachelor projects. They are abstract future worlds, each with its own challenges. There is Landscape Amnesia on cultural heritage and its memories, Seven Continents One Ocean with the ocean as the basis for a new international society and The Scavengers in which the inhabitants make innovative use of waste. This year, the topic of waste was given extra focus by the academy with the exhibition GEO-DESIGN: JUNK in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum. In this exhibition video-installations, photos and sculptures could be seen, with the aim of creating more awareness about the traces we leave behind.

Contemporary designers must answer two essential questions: How does he see the world around him and what position does he take in it?

Award Winning Designs

The new strategy resulted in an interesting presentation. The set-up was spacious, so that the projects had enough space to be viewed from all sides, a big difference from the previous presentations in De Witte Dame. What distinguishes Design Academy Eindhoven and its Graduation Show is the wide variety of projects.

© Seok-hyeon Yoon

This year the graduates seemed to prefer the use of traditional materials such as wool and clay. At the official opening of the Graduation Show, Seok-hyeon Yoon (BA Well-Being) won the René Smeets Award for the best Bachelor project. His project OTT combines ceramics with the traditional and above all sustainable Korean technique of using Ott lacquer, from the Ott tree, to make objects waterproof.

Voicing Borders
© Irakli Sabekia

In addition, new technology was used, and existing technology was exploited creatively. As a result, not only physical objects were created, but also social themes received attention. Part of Hidden Publics, one of the eight worlds, is the project Voicing Borders by Irakli Sabekia, a special example of a social project. He took a hostile-looking barbed wire fence in East Georgia and turned it into something positive. By using the wire as a radio antenna, he can communicate information about the villages that once stood on the site of the fence. These villages were destroyed during the Russian occupation but through this project the memory is kept alive. It earned Sabekia the Melkweg Award and he was able to present his project during the international design conference Antenna, held for the third time during DDW.