For 25 years Gijs Bakker has been commited to our academy. First as Head of Living (bachelors), followed by a position as Head of a master research programma to finally become Head of the Master Department. We are very proud of the work he has done at our academy and wish him all the best!
Learn more about Gijs Bakker and his world at DAE by reading this interview which was held this year at our academy:
“WE DREAM OF WIDTH”
GIJS BAKKER, HEAD OF THE MASTERS 1, TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF THE MASTERS
AS A PATRIARCH AND HEAD, GIJS BAKKER IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM OF DESIGN ACADEMY EINDHOVEN. HIS “INSANE LOVE FOR THE JOB” GIVES HIM THE PASSION HE INVESTS IN HIS JOB AS A DESIGNER AND ALLOWS HIM TO BE SO SYMPATHETIC TOWARDS THE ACADEMY. BELOW, YOU’LL FIND A NUMBER OF EXCERPTS FROM A LIVELY DISCUSSION ABOUT THE MISSION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MASTERS.
“When I started with the Masters in 2003, a period in which we were still caught in the conceptual thinking, we named the department ‘Conceptual Design in Context’. The most important thing was, and still is to me, that, as a designer, you have to be able to think in concepts. You are able to give authentic thought to whatever you are confronted with. By dealing with this in an inquisitive and investigating manner, you develop a central thought which can be expressed in words and images. This is the kind of thought that will form the basic idea for your final design.
So there is more than just the principal and the issue you’re facing. In my own development, personal intuition and desires have always been a guiding factor. The designer, per definition, is more interesting than the bodice of the industry or the ideology of a school.
Still, we believed that the emphasis on the individual behind the designer was too strong at that time, which is why we added ‘in Context’. The 100% concourse of foreign students quickly taught us what all those cultural influences were doing with us. We converted this enrichment into a program: one of the first things that plays a role within our trade, is the context in which design challenges reveal themselves to you. It simply was the next step en route to maturity of the trade. We joined that process as a department and incorporated it into our curriculum. Meanwhile, the context has become somewhat broader.
Three years ago, we said that the visionary was culturally well versed and that he views the design trade from that perspective. Today, we take this much further. We train our students so that their designs can be guiding from a cultural, economic, political and social perspective. We dream of width, making the trade more layered and more interesting.”
“We are not a position-oriented study. We don’t teach our students any tricks. We build them. What we give them, is something that sticks with them, that makes them who they are, long after they have forgotten all pure knowledge they learned during the Masters…
We grow intellectual curiosity and conceptual design skills with our students and we challenge them to take in an autonomous position in the design field. We prepare them for finding new connections between science, education and society, due to which they can play an unexpected but essential role as a designer in business, education or elsewhere.
This is not so much related to a position as it is to a mentality. Everything has to be questioned. Based on the not knowing, the unanswered questions, the confusion and the calling into question of one’s own beliefs. What I’m trying to do, is to change a way of thinking. By taking away axioms, interesting questions and connections arise. In addition, we cherish intuition. I want to make intuition practicable and explicate the culture our students carry with them. What matters to us, is the indescribable, the contra-rational, combined with solid research. We’re not worried about the question where our students will end up. This doesn’t appear to be a problem, as demonstrated by our Alumni survey.
The author-designer/researcher we train is able to have everyone in a team of interdisciplinary professionals, face in the same direction, and play a leading role. Because of his Bildung and cultural background, he will be able to plot a course and get other experts on board. And that is of great value in many professional situations.”
“I think that it is important that I am a connector, I love to connect people. That is something I inherited from my mother. She had 6 children and a bunch of grandchildren, and she was very good at hiding which grandchild was her sweetheart. When we were playing with children in the neighbourhood, she would always say: “When you grow up, you have to make sure that you’re the one they come and play with!” Wise advice that I still keep in mind. I love working with my team. I feel great pleasure in seeing how Louise, Jan and Joost interact. It is a great pleasure to be at the table with them. We have a good and fruitful partnership. We gained a lot over the past years. It works more efficiently like this, ideas go back and forth, a clear situation for the study coordinator, since we use similar assessment systems. In this respect, the quality of our study is guaranteed as well”
“Over the past years we have gained a lot: broad context combined with authentic conceptual thinking based on intuitive and rational research, with an inspiring and well-cooperating team!”