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DDW Trend: Comfort and healing with emo design

22 October 2020

We live in a period of massive uncertainty, which in turn stirs feelings of upheaval and listlessness. Or even depression. The climate and Covid-19. Trump in power and the housing market collapsing. One demographic suffering immensely is the millenials. That seems to be something of a consensus among the final project exhibit at Design Academy Eindhoven, which contains various projects with an almost therapeutic impact.

Angéline Behr finds comfort in the meaning and power of flowers while feeling depressed during her graduation. Using botanical studies, stories, myths, legends, pseudo-scientific beliefs and other fictions, she developed a typology of plants and flowers based on their properties and their ability to solve problems. Between mediation, gentle medicine and shamanic ritual, her Imaginary Flower Therapy helps her to overcome the difficulties of modern life.

Temporarily Unavailable

Temporarily unavailable is an animated film by Deborah van der Putten, in which she shows the emotions when she felt while suffering from burn-out as a student at Design Academy Eindhoven. This film is intended to show friends or family if you feel burnt out, so that they understand better how you feel. But the film can help you understand yourself better, if you're suffering from burn-out. It's no surprise, then, that the creative process for Van der Putten was also a form of processing.

Emotions don't always have to be private; they can be shared. What if we could express how we feel through our clothes? Not by making a choice in front of the closet every day, but thanks to tech-fashion. The Mood Adaptive Dress is a dynamic and expressive dress that can switch between two different states: subtle and expressive. You choose how you feel. The dress is a hybrid collaboration between TU Delft's Emerging Materials Lab and the Flemish fashion designer Jasna Rok.

Emotion Whisperer
© ©Simon Dogger

Simon Dogger lets visually handicapped persons 'see' the emotions of the person they are talking to with his Emotion Whisperer. A pair of glasses with a camera and face recognition scans the other person's face. If he laughs or is happy or angry, the camera records this and gives a signal to the vibrating device that the blind person holds in his hand, so he feels the emotion of the person he is talking to.

For anyone who feels overwhelmed by their emotions – which can happen in these times when emotions run high – there is an app called Sprekkie that wants to break the taboo surrounding mental problems and provides information about them. The seeks to be an ice-breaker for youth to discuss fear, shame and uncertainty, but also depression, psychosis or maybe even suicidal ideation. The concept was developed in close collaboration with 113 Zelfmoordpreventie, psychologists and social workers. It is precisely with better knowledge in their immediate environment that young people with psychological problems can be better helped. Clever and friendly emo design, which is needed now more than ever.

Someone who gets this better than anyone else – naturally – is Lidewij Edelkoort. At a double exhibition New Melancholy in the Van Abbemuseum (ed. check out our 360˚ video) and De Kazerne in Eindhoven (ed. check out our 360˚ video), she uses objects to generate an atmosphere as a metaphor to create a new melancholy that hangs over society like a fog. A leather bench in the shape of a cow's body but without a head. An understated owl folded from an old rag that actually looks more like a scarecrow. A table and chair that are buried under a tight cocoon of latex, making it impossible to sit on. A rocking horse made of cemented carbide with pointy spikes – a children's toy you can't actually play with, because it's too dangerous. These are objects that evoke a certain sorrow, a metaphor for the unfulfilled desire of melancholy.

This associative way of making expositions and trend forecasting is characteristic for Lidewij. It is a suggestion rather than a harsh opinion. But fair is fair, the internationally renowned trend forecaster hits the nail on the head with it. We do live in times of grief and a longing for peace. Melancholy, indeed.

Written by Jeroen Junte, editor-in-chief DesignDigger