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Stories of a Product

18 October 2020

©Meiying Lu
In our Western world, we are moving further and further away from the products and objects that surround us. Stories of a Product is one of the subthemes of the DDW20 theme The New Intimacy and is about the relationship between man and product.

As a result of mass production, the disappearance of local production processes and increasing prosperity, objects have become fleeting commodities. We hardly ever cherish them, nor do they last a lifetime. It has become the 'norm' to simply replace our possessions: it is often more expensive to repair them than to replace an item with a new one. Most products are designed in such a way that they can no longer be repaired.

This system has led to incessant production and consumption with all the environmental consequences while losing sight of the real value of objects. Because this is not just reflected in the price and the picture, but in the story behind them. Products and utilitarian objects are typically items that tell us something about who we are, our culture and our history. Designers play an important role in this. Not only are they capable of making meaningful items for the future. Better than anyone else, they are eminently capable of letting us look at objects in a new way or of designing new systems through which we deal with objects in a more sustainable way. This article shows a number of examples of designers who actively support this philosophy, thereby creating new ways of connecting between man and object.

Diamon Makers Lab
© Aniela Fidler

Diamond Makers Lab by Aniela Fidler

Designer Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska focuses on design as an expression of emotion. In the Diamond Makers Lab, her graduation project of the University of the Arts in London, she asks why we continue to use the diamond as a cliché symbol of love. She proposes a lab where we make 'diamonds' of objects that are dear to us, and thus share a much more personal symbol of love with our loved ones. How about turning one of our mother's cakes into a diamond? Or the teddy bear that stood by your side through tough times. On the one hand, Fidler Wieruszewska opens our eyes to cliché symbols, inasmuch as they still fit in with the current Zeitgeist, and on the other hand to the real value behind seemingly ordinary objects in our lives.

Zeeuws Museum by Remi Veldhoven & Hul le Kes

International woven fabrics are a colourful curiosity in the Zeeuws Museum’s collection of eighteenth-century textiles. Never before have they been subjected to such extensive research in partnership with designers to determine their origins, weaves, use of colour, production and distribution. Textile designer and researcher Remi Veldhoven and fashion designer Sjaak Hullekes offer insights into and awareness of contemporary sustainable design and production methods in comparison to those of centuries past. In partnership with textile companies Wolkat in Tilburg and EE Exclusives in Heeze, the Zeeuws Museum offers a glimpse into the creation of a new damask coat and the making of a product that can be cherished for a lifetime.

Cross-Cultural Chairs
© onomatopee

Cross-Cultural Chairs by Matteo Guarnaccia

With the collection of chairs, presented by Matteo Guarnaccia at Onomatopee, he does not aspire to create a new furniture line. These eight chairs symbolise the results of a study about social and cultural differences on the subject of 'sitting' across the world.  In eight different countries, including Russia, Nigeria and Japan, Guarnaccia commissioned a local designer and craftsman to design a chair that symbolises the traditions, materials, production processes and cultural characteristics of that region. In doing so, he demonstrates that chairs are not simply functional objects to sit on, but that they are also bearers of larger community stories.

Book No.0 by Meiying Lu

The emotional value of some objects is very clear, but the functionality may have been lost. With his project Book Nr.0, Meiying Lu shows that clothes not only have a function, but that they can also tell a personal story of a loved one. When people pass away after a protracted illness, the next of kin are often left with a feeling of emptiness. In this project, Lu uses garments that evoke cherished memories and personal stories, thus making them into a diary in memory of the deceased. Personal belongings are therefore given a role in the grieving process of the next of kin and in the commemoration of the deceased.

Controversial Objects Lecture at MU

At MU, one of the few venues in Eindhoven that can still be visited in person this autumn, the theme for this year is The Self Design Academy. Here they research via various presentations and lectures how we can define, understand and design ourselves. On Wednesday 21 October, they are organising an evening with Karaoke Discourse about misconceptions with the theme: controversial objects. Almost all objects we surround ourselves with contain, in addition to their functional value, a symbolic layer. We are most likely all in agreement about what some objects, such as luxury cars, radiate. In the case of other objects, opinions are at times so divergent that one wonders if everyone is talking about the same object. Do you buy a scooter to go to places or to impress your friends? During this evening, you are challenged to research the subjective meaning of objects and to ask yourself which meaning objects have for you.

© DDW Talk: Connected Living

DDW Talk: Connected Living with Seetal Solanki

Ma-tt-er was founded in 2015 by the British designer Seetal Solanki with the aim of redefining the world we live in by better understanding what objects are made of. According to Solanki, it is crucial for a sustainable future that we connect with the objects around us and that the key lies in getting to know materials better. During the DDW Talk: Connected Living on Thursday 22 October, Solanki, as well as Lyall Sprong and Yegwa Ukpo, are available to answer all your questions about materials. Think of this -with a wink- as a therapy session for material problems. Log in, submit your problems to the panel and take the first steps towards a new connection with the objects around you.

Stories of a Product talk x Dezeen

At 16:00hrs on Tuesday 20 October, Dezeen has arranged a discussion between designers Seetal Solanki, Aniela Fidler and Christien Meindertsma about designing meaningful products and sustainable use.

The New Intimacy: Stories of a Product
Covid-19 has enveloped our entire social fabric and has exposed all wires and frayed edges. One of the most important human values, intimacy, is at stake now that physical contact is often no longer possible. How do designers reflect on this? How can they translate the value of intimacy in a creative and innovative way in their design? Stories of a Product is one of the subthemes of the DDW20 theme The New Intimacy and is about the relationship between man and product. Read the full text about The New Intimacy.

Written by: Lisa Hardon, programme manager DDW