Designer Daniël de Bruin makes curious installations. The first analogue 3D printer, for example, but also an installation with motor oil and LED lighting. His work is on show with Dutch Invertuals and in the Van Abbemuseum this year. This is part 6 of a series of short interviews with designers participating in Dutch Design Week.


You studied at the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, but you have now ventured into the field of design. What kind of designer is Daniël de Bruin?


“I increasingly wonder about that myself. I should prepare that pitch a bit better. But, still, I’ll make an attempt: my work is centred around technology. I use it to make installations and products that tell a story. That make people think about something. The main objective is to create something new each time. More I can’t really say. Except that I feel most comfortable when I’m in my ‘make flow’. As long as I can make things, I am happy.”


You present the project Fosfeen during DDW. What kind of installation is that?

Fosfeen, do you know what that is? It’s the spot that is briefly on your retina after you’ve looked into a bright light source. I thought LED strips were so bright, you could hardly look at them with the naked eye. By putting them in oil – which isn’t a conductor and therefore doesn’t cause short circuits – I can dim the light or make it brighter by immersing it in the liquid. I started to experiment with this fact. This installation is actually no more than a closed circuit with some waste oil, mechanics and LEDs. When someone walks by or moves, movement sensors activate the mechanics in the installation. They push and pull the strips in and out of the oil, creating different graduations of light."

Fosfeen seems like a big experiment. Will you develop the idea in more detail?

“I’m really happy I got to present this project with Dutch Invertuals in Milan and during Dutch Design Week. Here, among the conceptual designs, I feel the installation is in the right place. It’s an experiment I have invested a lot of time in. Especially in the technology. That isn’t actually quite as simple as the black surface might suggest. I’m already happy with this result. I notice from people’s reactions that they are enthralled by the interaction with such an  installation. I actually made this suspended version especially for Invertuals. The first one, a horizontal one, can now be seen in the Van Abbemuseum, as part of the exhibition Broken White. What else I’m going to do with Fosfeen? I don’t know exactly.”

Finally: Dutch Design Week  will be over again in nine days’ time. Any idea what you are going to invent and make in the coming period?

“For starters, I have to look for a new place to work, because the property next to my current studio burnt down to the ground last month. Miraculously everything is still intact in my studio, besides damage from smoke and water. I also have a few projects running I can’t and may not say that much about. Let’s say, it has to do with a festival in Eindhoven next year. I’m also busy with the further development of my project Neurotransmitter 3000, a self-built attraction, so that I can eventually control it through my own biometric data. And then there is my childhood dream of course: I would love to build my own roller coaster. But hey, that’s not really an option yet. Unless I find sponsors of course.”


The making of’ is the theme for the 15th Dutch Design Week. The anniversary year is an ode to the making process and the makers. Guests of honour are 2500 designers who made the event bigger, and the world just that little bit better, smarter, handier or more beautiful. For 9 whole days in Eindhoven they show their latest work and the best of what design has to offer.