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By Gabrielle Kennedy

 

To welcome in the new year Design Academy Eindhoven Student Council launched a pot luck event. In it Creative Director Thomas Widdershoven and newly appointed Director of Education Jurriënne Ossewold talked and exchanged ideas with students about design, positioning and educational reform.

“We want to know where you stand and where you want to go,” said Widdershoven.

The International New York Times’ Alice Rawsthorn recently referred to Design Academy Eindhoven as the most influential school in Europe.  “Influential does not mean the best,” said Widdershoven, “It means we are a player and that is exactly what I see.  I see our students looking outwards towards the world, not just the cultural sector. You are looking for an impact.”

Together Widdershoven and Ossewold remain fully open to both ideas and criticism from the student body, which responded favourably to their goal of enhancing the role of dialogue within the school – dialogue between departments, with Eindhoven, and internationally.

Ossewold described Design Academy Eindhoven as a community of talent. She believes that sharing expertise is both what characterizes and distinguishes the school.  She stresses that the new Board of Directors is not just open to new and experimental ideas about design, but also education.   

“We are very open to new forms of education,” she says, “And a lot of what we have spent the last year planning will come into effect from this September.  All changes are geared towards equipping our graduates to deal with a new reality,” she says. “For example, we think it is important that every student comes into contact with a real client before they graduate.”

Discussion about the graduation show – which some students find overwhelming – turned into a vigorous exchange of ideas. Is it ego? Is it relevant?

“I think it is very important that a student know about the tension of getting something ready and out there,” says Widdershoven.  “The show is about making something worthwhile for others, it is always exciting and works as a sort of check on what you are really doing. For me the show is a highlight and yes of course it is egoistic – it is pointing at you – but that is just part of the circular effect that we believe in - of collaboration, reflection, doubt, questions, dialogue and exchange.”

Ossewold, whose interaction with Widdershoven feels fresh and productive, added: “Being a designer without an exhibition is like being a dancer without a stage. They go together because it is in the eyes of the world that you will find meaning in your work. To me, turning to the public at some point is important and can only ever make your work better.”

Widdershoven ended by formally welcoming Ossewold who until December 1st 2015 was working in an interim capacity. “We look back on 2015 with some good successes,” he said. “We accomplished a lot together and have started to take a new direction in education. Now we can develop further what we have. There is a certain flow going. I can feel it and I hope you do too. Happy New Year.”

Published: 07-Jan-2016 14:20

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