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Final round-up of themes explored at Dutch Design Week

18 October 2019

With DDW only a day away, we compile a final list of the interesting and innovative projects that await visitors.

Theme: Plastic Solutions

From speculative designs to real solutions to the problem of the plastic soup, designers are reusing plastic waste or looking at plastic as a new mineral.

Leonne Cuppen | Rethinking Plastic
© Anne Sophie Flores

Rethinking Plastic’ is an exhibition created by Leonne Cuppen of Yksi Expo, the Dutch Design Foundation, World Design Embassy and Searious Business that shows products and projects by designers and brands around the globe that are approaching the plastic crisis as a design challenge. More than 25 designers and companies have tackled the status quo on plastics and the innovative results range from bio-based packaging alternatives to recycled plastic toys and design furniture. Both the co-curators and participants aim to show that with creativity and courage, it’s possible to rethink our relationship with plastic entirely.

Kenneth Arnold | Waterside Gobblers

Situated along urban canals and rivers, where plastic debris naturally collects, the Waterside Gobblers remove passing plastic rubbish from the water with their jaw clamps and turn this urgent activity into a fun and inspiring game. The goal of this project by RCA graduate Kenneth Arnold is to activate people around the issue of plastic pollution and to reduce what travels downstream into rivers, oceans and the wider ecosystem. Gobblers can take on the form of different creatures that inhabit the environment such as fish, amphibians, or birds - the idea is that Gobblers should adapt to their local communities.

Chloe Severien | Infinite Re-usable Knitwear

Infinite Re-usable Knitwear’ is Chloe Severien’s knitted collection made out of recycled plastic (PET) from car tires that aims to reduce the fashion industry’s ecological footprint. “This yarn is super strong, colorful and shiny," she says. What’s more, it can be reused endlessly as it can be unravelled to knit a new piece. Severin is the first designer (that we know of) to knit with this material using a knitting machine, and the results are much more comfortable than you might expect. Infinite Re-usable Knitwear has been nominated for the Manifestations Young Talent Award and has already won the Drempelprijs - an incentive prize of 5,000 euros from the municipality of Rotterdam in collaboration with the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Theme: Artificial Nature

Digital representations of nature don’t have to be cold or counter-intuitive. DDW shows how they can be humanizing and inspiring.

Rive Roshan | Stilled Life

‘Stilled Life’ is the title of the new work by Rive Roshan: an immersive poetic experience, in which the sound of silence is captured, as well as the beauty of a fleeting moment. It’s called ‘Stilled Life’, instead of ‘Still Life’ because it freezes moments that are full of movement, such as ripples in the water, the reflection of light on the water, and sand that blows away; elements from nature that fascinate Rive Roshan. The studio worked with designers such as Sandhelden to make stools, chairs and vases out of 3D-printed sand, and with Moooi Carpets to make an enormous geometric rug featuring printed water patterns. This modern version of the Zen garden with sculptures, through which the visitor can walk, find space for contemplation, reflection and tranquility, is a counterpoint to the disappearance of traditional religions, the ugliness of the world, growing populism and the distance of man to nature and each other.

Visual Citizens | Lilypad - Concept Image
© Visual Citizens pf Spacey Studios

The fluctuating relationship between nature and technology can create possibilities to reconnect with nature. Lilypad is an immersive experience designed by inter-disciplinary design studio Visual Citizens that gives the visitor an uncanny perspective on the technological-natural relationship through a mix of digital, man-made and natural objects and materials. Beneath the oversized furniture a reflective material mimics the water of a lake, which is decorated with artificial lilypads. Surrounding the space is a large-scale digital visualisation of a natural landscape. The visitor can relax on the furniture and experience the surreal feeling of floating upon a lilypad in a lake.

Theme: Circularity and Bio-Design

The need for a bio-based circular economy is becoming increasingly apparent. Designers are starting to find solutions for the mounds of bio waste produced in the world, and using organic materials, such as mycelium, algae, leaves, blood, or apple peel, to make new products.

The Growing Pavilion

The Growing Pavilion’ shows the possibilities, and above all, the enormous beauty of bio-based materials. The use of organic or grown materials is an important solution for reducing plastic (waste), preventing subsidence and sea level rise, capturing carbon dioxide and reusing waste by-products from agriculture. Driven by a strong necessity and the need to stimulate a new way of thinking, Company New Heroes and the Dutch Design Foundation, along with partners from the world of design, architecture, construction, government and education, have created an iconic structure that consists entirely of bio-based materials sourced as locally as possible. The Growing Pavilion is an ode to the beauty of bio-based materials, especially mycelium - tiny fungal threads that produce mushrooms and grow on waste – that when rendered inactive, creates an extremely light and very strong material that can be used in architecture and doesn’t absorb moisture. Atelier Tom Veeger will present a pavilion made out of mycelium.

For his Design Academy Eindhoven graduation project Seok-hyeon Yoon presents ‘OTT’, a natural resin derived from wood and traditionally used to lacquer wood in his native Korea, as an alternative substance for glazing ceramics. The advantages of this non-toxic, non-chemical alternative to the traditional highly-polluting glazes used in the ceramics industry are manifold. Ott dries out naturally, which means ceramic pieces do not need a second shift in the kilns as they would with glazing. It also dries naturally enabling DIY maintenance or repair to damaged Ott glazing, and broken ceramic pieces can also safely be recycled. Ott has the potential to be a game-changer: the ceramics industry could become circular.

Studio Carbon & Lindey Cafsia Studio | The DUNGse experience
© Studio Carbon & Lindey Cafsia Studio | The DUNGse experience

With over two million cows the Netherlands has a serious problem of excess dung. Studio Carbon and Lindey Cafsia Studio present ‘DUNGse’: a project to use this dung to build a circular future. Dung can be used to make floors, absorb radiation or turned into mobile phone holders, home incense and sound-absorbing wall tiles. At DDW the pair will show an experiential kiosk where visitors can come feel, smell, test and experience a dung-centric future.

Danielle Ooms | Apple-based Matter

Daniëlle Ooms, an Eindhoven University of Technology graduate, is interested in the future of materials and fashion. She has made a biodegradable, apple-based material that is similar to leather but doesn’t have the same harmful impact on nature. This work has been nominated for the Manifestations Young Talent Award. 

Theme: Material Innovations

DDW shows the newest inventions and new technologies, from 3D-weaving and garments that need no sewing to using industrial residues as a source for new materials.  

Karlijn Sibbel et al | Re:flex - Grid sample of Re:flex

While natural materials are constantly changing due to changes in the environment, materials invented by people are often static. Enter ‘Re:flex’: a reconfigurable, programmable material that changes its shape in response to heat. It is inexpensive, widely available and a durable material that can be produced on a large scale at low temperatures. Re:flex remembers the shape in which it was created. As a result, you can heat it, transform it into a temporary form, allow it to cool and freeze. Upon re-heating, the material returns to its original shape. With Re:flex, Karlijn Sibbel and her multi-disciplinary team imagine a world in which the materials we use are no longer inert and where users can adjust materials to meet their needs.

Fashion researcher Karin Vlug is exploring and pushing the boundaries of fashion, production and new materials. She has developed digital on-demand local garment production methods that do not require sewing. In May 2018 Bas Froon and Karin Vlug founded UNSEAM - Seamlessy Shaping Textiles – to develop digital production methods for new materials. In the ‘What if’ Lab in Indonesia, Vlug teamed up with Iwan Pol, Nidiya Kusmaya and Ronaldiaz Hartantyo to explore new design and production opportunities using Mycotech, a mycelium-based material.

Royal College of Art | Red Mud / Aluminium

Four designers from the Royal College of Art explored ways of transforming ‘Red Mud’ – a secondary industrial residue - into functional and familiar forms. Working closely with factories across Europe, material scientists and ceramicists, they made a series of surprising tableware pieces and structural elements that hint to the potential of this material. Red Mud, also known as Bauxite Residue, is a byproduct of refining bauxite ore into alumina, a precursor of aluminium. It is made mostly of iron oxide, lending it a vibrant colour. And there is a colossal amount of it: roughly 2.5 times the amount of Red Mud is made for each part of aluminium (that's upwards of 150 million tonnes of Red Mud produced every year). Currently this residue is left unused in giant pits around the world and the environmental impact is huge. The designers worked closely with KU Leuven and Imperial College London to explore the potential of the material both as a ceramic and as a building material. They developed their own clay bodies, slips, glazes, and concretes, all made with the material.

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ABN AMRO wants to accelerate the shift to sustainability. That is why the bank supports Game Changers, designers who set the course for a better world with their products and way of thinking. Designers who deal explicitly with urgent issues such as climate change, resource scarcity and social inequality in their work. In the run-up to DDW19, a professional jury selected four designers – Jalila Essaïdi, Adrianus Kundert, House of Thol and MarcelvangalenDesign – to tackle an everyday problem and find a sustainable solution. To support the development of these designs, the designers can pitch their products to investors. ABN AMRO, the main sponsor of DDW, also wants to link the Game Changers to the network of the bank. The Game Changers will get their own dedicated exhibition at DDW the Game Changers Experience where their prototypes will be shown.