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Looking Back: Dutch Design Week 2018

From emotional robots to giant cuddly bears, the 17th edition of Dutch Design Week wowed its 355,000 visitors with the mechanical, the social and the wondrous

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With 2,600 designers across 120 locations in the 2018 edition of Dutch Design Week (DDW) there was plenty to see. Within this slightly overwhelming display of all things design, some topics kept popping up across the many locations.

Socially driven design was one area of design that was further expanded at this years DDW. For the second year running the Antenna Conference brought together 20 young graduates from around the globe who are using to design to tangibly impact the world. Selected by Design Indaba and DDW, the projects ranged from an investigation into the highly contested economic model of a basic income with Martina Huynh’s Basic Income Cafe to products developed by Gwen Gage for Malaria Prevention in rural Senegal.

In a similar pursuit to improve society through design, Social Label – a platform that pairs designers with people with disabilities – launched new products at this DDW including the marble TIJD clock produced in collaboration with Joost van Bleiswijk. Their expansion marks a growing interest in socially active design. Social Label had a solo exhibition at Piet Hein Eek but also notably were present at the Dutch Design Awards for their award of ‘Best Client’ for 2018.

This year also many designers seem preoccupied with the complex, productive and sometimes sinister relationship between humans and machines. The Robot Love exhibition, developed by Niet Normaal Foundation dived head first into this topic asking: are humans capable of loving robots and could robots love us? This provocative question resulted in works such as the uncannily realistic crying lady robot by L.A. Raven entitled Annelies, Looking for Completion, the hypnotizing animated movie Undercurrents, made with 3D rendering software by Albert Omoss and the eerily hyperreal sculptures that are simultaneously cute and repulsive by artist Margriet Van Breevoort.

Similarly, Manifestations in Strip S looked at Technology from “her most human side” exploring the bossy, sexy, caring or clumsy nature of machines.

In a different approach to how humans and technology can interact was the humble blue Kozie Me – a soft, tactile and programmable object that plays music or sounds when stroked. It was designed for elderly people with dementia to both calm them and activate their brains by Roos Meerman and Tom Kortbeek.

Another project dealing with machines was MOBILE JOURNALISM_ by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jim Brady. On show at both G18 and MU’s exhibition The New Newsroom, the project created an interactive virtual reality that can give people new perspectives on breaking news by immersing them in it virtually, thereby challenging dominant media voices.

Finally, at DDW there were simply some projects that made you go ‘ooooh’. Whether in delight, surprise or wonder, these little treasures were to found hidden across the various venues. At Kazerne both Studio Drift’s dancing kinetic sculptures Shylight and All Falls Down, a machine that creates ephemeral bubble paintings with swirls of translucent colors by Sander Hagelaar captivated the audience. The giant blue teddy bear which was part of the installation Le Roi by designer Marc Ange also triggered a lot of smiles. The oversized cuddly toy showed off a range of textiles developed by fabric manufacturer Sunbrella.

The New Material Awards were a showcase of clever observations about the world around us transformed into new materials. Sitting amongst the collections of intriguing material samples were the two overall winners for 2018 – Blood Related which uses waste streams of animal blood from the meat industry to create materials by Base Stittgen; and Algae Lab LUNA from Studio Klarenbeen and Dros from Atelier LUMA which has developed a 3D printing material from Algae.

From emotional robots to giant cuddly bears, the 17th edition of DDW certainly had something for all its 355,000 visitors.

Dutch Design Week
Designer Marc Ange in his installation ‘Le Roi’ for Sunbrella
Dutch Design Week
Antenna 2018 ©Jeroen van der Wielen
Dutch Design Week
Margriet Van Breevoort's work at Robo tLove © TOMMY KÖHLBRUGGE. Photograph courtesy of Dutch Design Week
Dutch Design Week
New Material Award 2018, at VEEM © Max Kneefel Photograph courtesy of Dutch Design Week
Dutch Design Week
Jim Brady, Mobile Journalism. Photography by Iris Rijskamp, courtesy of Design Academy Eindhoven
Dutch Design Week
Studio Drift's Shylight at KAZERNE -Eat,Drink,Design ©Ralph Roelse Photograph courtesy of Dutch Design Week
Dutch Design Week
Social Label at the Dutch Design Awards © Boudewijn Bollmann Photograph courtesy of Dutch Design Week

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