In Need Of ...
Opening speech by
Dear graduates and guests,
All 171 of this year’s graduates are working in a critical moment in time.
Theirs is an era characterized by upheaval and extremism, but most of all uncertainty.
So much is changing and there are so many questions that this generation needs to address.
What is the future of labour, of homeliness, of diversity, of privacy, and of trust? And what will happen to art and design in Western societies as its middle classes are slowly disappearing? The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider and the solutions are nowhere to be found as is evidenced in the almost farcical US presidential elections.
And yet, design remains an optimistic and courageous discipline with designers still able to capture the poetry and humanity that is out there.
This Graduation Show “In need of…” demonstrates that our students possess a profound desire to utilize design as an act of engagement; they are firmly committed to making a real difference – not to solving all the world’s problems, but to creating meaningful alternatives.
And they have achieved this with an intuitive sense
of compassion; a quality which we believe should lie at the core of design. In this way and particular to this new
era, Design Academy Eindhoven is embracing design as a courageous counter-movement.
It takes guts to challenge the system to look at power, injustice and government and recognize that design has played a large role both in creating many of the problems that we are facing, but also in paving the way to a different type of reality.
Current affairs have made students look into the concepts of conflict and harmony and of war and peace. Also looking for a redefinition of equality, justice and wealth. We see throughout this show the role design can play in these broader topics.
It takes trust to create new ways of being and living and to honestly speak out about what is there. Identity is a huge issue many of our students are dealing with. Whether that be cultural identity, gender or queer, how can we create what is not yet there and combine play, experiment and pride?
It takes poetry to reimagine a world beyond the constraints of what is technically possible and to see hints of this imaginative world around us. Many of our students address pressing social issues by designing interactions, interventions, new systems of meaning, new ways of community building, and also the possible consequences of a merge between man and robot.
We see students looking at the potential of new technologies to create sustainable alternatives.
For example, using waste materials to design new products and even taking it one-step further to create new materials from a mix of crafts, mechanical and digital technologies.
To sustainably innovate we need a whole new process of recreation in which materials, production processes and form intervene with each another.
We see the reshaping of crafts by mixing traditional skills and digital technologies, but also by exploring digital crafts. Projects show a recreation of form, colour and shape using a mixture of methods and technologies. The end result adds in a current way to some century old traditions.
This year Design Academy Eindhoven presents three new initiatives during Graduation Show 2016.
The Academy Collection is a new series of books we will annually publish of a research thesis.
The idea is to unlock and celebrate research to make it available to a much broader audience. The idea came during this year’s examinations when Alice Rawsthorn as an external examiner said that the research conducted by contextual design graduate Jing He was exemplary. Jing researched in a fresh way how her Chinese identity may or may not have an impact on her work as a designer.
On a similar theme we have also introduced more content and reflective articles to our annual Graduation Catalogue – again unlocking the stories and thinking of our graduates and in the meantime adding to the broader design discourse. We are looking for new forms to address the issues concerning design and the role and meaning of design.
This search is also expressed by a new element that is part of the Graduation Show - The Arena.
The Arena is a stage for design students, graduates and professionals to question the default option and to find alternate forms of expression. We will present – PechaKucha style – non-stop daily programming of performances, films, debates and presentations.
Performance can be an ideal medium to express concepts. It affords designers a whole new way to explore the larger world issues they are tackling. You can find The Arena on the fourth floor.
This year’s show is curated and designed by FormaFantasma. All graphic design is by HallerBrun. A big thanks to you both.
Also thanks to our staff and everyone who made this year’s show and publications possible. A big thanks to the Keep an Eye Foundation for generously providing the grants.
But most of all I want to thank our graduates for studying with us, for making the touching, provoking, beautiful, meaningful work you have made and adding to the riches of design.
And of course congratulations, and good luck to all of you.
Please enjoy the show!