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Dutch Design Week shows vision of the future

Running from October 19 – 27, Dutch Design Week (DDW) will explore themes that are as diverse as they are challenging and timely, casting its focus as much on the speculative idea as the finished product. After all, most great inventions, designs and technologies started life as a prototype.

This year projects range from the conceptual, quirky and artistic (designed to capture the imagination and spark ideas and debate), to the practical (products and technologies designed for the era we live in). What follows is our first selection of DDW themes and project highlights. More themes – such as plastic solutions, bio design, health, privacy and gender/identity... will follow over the next few weeks.

Food and sustainable farming

The wonderful and innovative world of food design takes centre stage at DDW19. Food is both primal and sophisticated, manipulated and raw, designed by both nature and man. It is explored as a means of sustenance, as a signifier for social mores of interaction and communication, and as something that needs to be grown and consumed differently at a time of deep climate and biodiversity crisis. Three highlights are listed below.

Agri Meets Design is a place where designers, farmers, policymakers and businesses come together to explore the creation of a future-proof food system and ask the following question. How can designers contribute to a new circular agricultural food system in the Netherlands? If you’re a designer, farmer, policymaker or food professional and want to join us on this adventure, stop by the studio at Sectie-C.

KAIKU Living Colour is a system that creates colours out of plant waste, creating sustainable alternatives to petroleum-derived synthetic colours that are causing ecological devastation. Plant-derived dues used to be the norm, but were quickly cast aside during industrialization. One issue preventing their comeback is scalability as dye plants take up valuable agricultural land. KAIKU proposes to use waste from plants as a viable alternative and transforms the waste of everyday foods, such as avocados, onions and pomegranates (plants that are normally left to rot in landfill and emit harmful methane), into pigments you can paint with.

A guaranteed DDW highlight will be a highly experiential dinner by Eindhoven social designers Joes Janmaat and Manon Barendse called ‘Is het normaal dat?’ (Is it normal that?) that will play with the unwritten and constantly shifting social and cultural rules around love, relationships, intimacy, gender identity, body image and reproduction. Conversation around sexuality, taboos, stereotypes and orgasms will be facilitated in an original and delightful way during this positive, intimate and sensorial experience.

Robotica and AI

Robots and AI are both awe-inspiring and terrifying areas that promise to change society forever. In the end it is not technology but ethics that will dominate the discussion for the years to come. Our explorations into the theme are sure to fascinate and excite you. Three highlights below.

The Manifestations Festival at DDW is dedicated to showing the more human side of technology. Curator Viola van Alphen 2019 has selected works by over fifty young artists and recent graduates that aim to shine a powerful light on the exciting interaction between human beings and technology. The festival will touch on themes as wide-ranging and current as geo-political superpowers, body enhancements, robots, fear, hope, mass-media, e-Fashion and the Macho versus the feminine. Participants include Nick Ervinck, who combines fragmentary elements from the past and futuristic imagery to create a cyborg- sculpture.

Aiml is one of the animals in the interactive circus show Cirque du Data, a project initiated by RAUM and CLEVER FRANKE. and comes to DDW for the first time this year. Aiml creates drawings that show how her mood has been influenced by her surroundings. The project aims to show how a machine can gain insight into the mood and feelings of people in a neighbourhood using AI and Machine Leaning techniques. Nowadays, these kinds of techniques are mostly used by commercial organisations to gain a better understanding of people. Aiml explores how they could be integrated in an organic and beneficial way into the public space. CLEVERoFRANKE, the interactive design agency behind the project, won the Dutch Design Award in the Service & Systems category.

Homo Sensorium by Baltan Laboratories investigates the blurring of borders between the synthetic and organic, sense and perception, human and machine. By focusing on sensory perception, we get closer to the essence of what it means to be human, while investigating the future of our technologically mediated body. Immerse yourself in a multi-sensory tour based on the industrial heritage of the Strijp-S building; get test married in a high-tech wedding ritual; or create your own 3D-printed wedding rings in the Brainwave Wedding Lab. These and other sensorial experiences await you.

Technology & Poetry

Technology doesn’t have to be scary or distancing, it can also be poetic and beautiful. As is the case with these three upcoming DDW projects.

Pas de Deux by Studio Yūgō explores the temporary state of the human body during classical ballet. Through analysis software, the movements of bodies are recorded and the data is fed into a kinetic installation, which in turn creates its own choreography.

An interactive light installation composed of laboratory glass tubes, Flylight by DDW19 Ambassador Studio Drift responds to the viewers around it and is inspired by the behaviour of flocks of birds and the mesmerising patterns they make in the air. Ultrasonic sensors measure the distance between the viewer and the installation and the ‘flock’ reacts differently the closer you get to it or when more people approach it at once. The piece will be exhibited for the first time in Eindhoven in the DOMUSDELA, a venue that promises to become a new DDW hotspot.

A recent graduate from HKU in Utrecht, Jonne Stout brings two recent sound installations - First Rhythm and Second Verse - to DDW. The works explore her fascination with ceramics and the surprising and often overlooked acoustic properties of this timeless and ancient material. Using motors, various unglazed forms and wooden sticks, she creates kinetic installations that are both immersive and fascinating.

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