by Gabrielle Kennedy
“Eat Shit” Design Academy Eindhoven’s show in the recent Salone del Mobile successfully explored for the Milan audience how second year design students research and engage with process.
The entire Food Non Food department headed by Marije Vogelzang relocated to our Milan location where they were given the opportunity to work live and engage with an informed and often critical audience.
Images of our exhibition entrance with its fluorescent salmon typography went viral. “Eat Shit” we told Milan because as Jop de Vrieze argued in one the early morning breakfasts, “Provocation is necessary for science and art.”
Student projects ranged from a campaign to “Make Bread Not Chairs”, to an examination of how diet and exercise affects the bowels. “The Mummy Shit Lab” was the logical and necessary conclusion of the exhibition. It embraced human shit as a material worthy of discussion and experimentation. Students became poo-producers, then refiners who categorized and examined, and finally enhancers who freeze-dried and preserved samples in disks of epoxy resin.
But perhaps the most important conclusion of the “The Mummy Shit Lab” was how working through this topic leads to a more intimate human connection. “I think this whole exhibition takes a visitor on a journey from shit to disgust to intimacy, which is really very powerful and integral to the design process,” says creative director Thomas Widdershoven. “Watching this group as a whole, seeing how they relate and connect has been so impressive, and I think it will lead to some fascinating work down the track.”
And intimacy of course captures the core of this academy. Here we are primarily concerned with making a difference in the world as individuals – we work intimately with our materials and topics, but also on a human scale.
As well as the second year Food Non Food students, “Eat Shit” also showcased recent graduates. Jason Page used his DPBLSHD / RPBLSHD digital archive project to reveal the history of the academy’s food and shit related graduation projects from 1976 to Jolene Carlier’s visually arresting “Popcorn Monsoon”. Mickaël Wiesengrün showed his installation project “Révélateur”, which captures the most elusive of senses – smell, and Olivier van Herpt impressed critics with his 3D printer that uses clay to produce vases. Manon van Hoeckel’s “In Limbo Embassy” was another highlight – it explores the plight of the unrepresented and how alternatives can be found to give asylum seekers a stronger sense of political identity.
All these projects are from last December and make us very excited about what we will be presenting in the upcoming Graduation Show during Dutch Design Week.