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Designer: stop hiding away your models!

Sander Manse won this year’s Simon Mari Pruys Prize for design criticism with his thesis "What does the model do?". In it he researched the role of mock-ups and models in design and architecture. He then also experimented with models himself, creating bendable structures intended for public spaces. Sander Manse has been nominated for a Keep an Eye Grant for his project.

Sander: "When I was doing an internship with an architect I saw how important models are in this profession. It is customary to present them, to show them to the outside world. I thought it was  conspicuous that we, as designers, are always held accountable for our end product, for the photograph in the catalogue. Our research models offer such a wealth of valuable information on the choices and assessments we make in designing. And yet we hide them in archive boxes and racks, they hardly ever leave the studio. That’s why I started describing the history of models in design, to find out why we do these things, and how we could do them differently. Sottsass, for instance, started his career with his "Superboxes", gigantic boxes covered in laminate. They were in fact models for his later work, and the subsequent Memphis aesthetic. More importantly, these models contained his desire to unite the visual richness he had found in India with the Western world. The power and visual impact of these superboxes inspired a host of other designers. The same applies to the models made by Eames: these are actually made to test materials, they were making sculptural shapes to see how far they could manipulate the material (such as plywood). They are in fact 'failed' material tests of the chair that would ultimately make them famous. These models reveal the search itself, the eagerness. It stimulated other designers as well. We should make better use of the communicative features of models.

For as long as I can remember I have done my researching as I write. I’ll start with words, with analysing. I graduated in the Man and Public Space department, but I have developed increasingly as a critic and analyst in the field of design. Not enough is written about design, I think. We don’t document enough of what we do, what we set in motion, what we research. I would like to introduce more language to the design discipline, so that designers can tell the world what their work means.

If I win the grant, I would like to do a Master’s course to make a more in-depth study of art and design history. I find research satisfying. I have increasingly become a writer and I think that this is where my strength as a designer lies."

Published: 10-Sep-2014 16:12
  • If Sander wins a Keep an Eye grant...


  • If Sander wins a Keep an Eye grant...


Photography: Sander Manse