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Network culture presents an “incredibly exciting moment” for a new generation of designers, said Grima in his speech to open the DAE 2018-19 academic year, which will see the school vote for a designer to create its new identity.

While of course, you are here to specialise in something, which is design, we have a much bigger task as a school,” Grima told the audience of present and past DAE students, faculty and staff. 

This is not just any school. This is a school that has not just the ability but the responsibility to design design. To think about what design is actually here for, what we are here for, and in many ways what other schools are here for, because what you do in this school has a fundamental knock-on effect on the way design is perceived in the rest of the world.”

Being able to understand and keep track of what design actually is today is almost a superhuman task,” said Grima, who is the founder of Italian design research studio Space Caviar. “You are young, you are just at the beginning of this exponential curve of change, and I don’t envy you in many ways. You have an enormous challenge ahead, simply keeping up to date on what you are actually here to do.”

Grima said that the arrival of networked culture marked a major moment in history, and a cultural shift comparable to the inventions of the semi-conductor and of plastic, and to the discovery of penicillin. This would fundamentally change the way designers worked, he explained.

We live in a culture that is defined by out ability to be connected to others continually,” said Grima. “This is where we stand today, a moment of evolution in which design is leaving behind the idea of simply being a transformation of materials. While that element remains, increasingly it’s something that is taking place on an immaterial plane.”

This is what you are ultimately here to design: relationships between people,” he told the student body. “Whether you choose to do it through objects, whether you choose to do it through processes, whether you choose to do it through actions, performances, protests, whatever your material may be – and you should think really widely about that – that is what we are here to think about.”

Technology is fundamentally transforming the underpinnings of the world we live in, but we still retain the responsibility to think about what is possible and what is desirable,” he added.

This is where our true ability as designers lies. Not being completely seduced by technology, not being completely seduced by our ability to connect to the entire world around us, but also to be able to learn from the past, learn from ideas that are continually there and continually returning, and learn from the fact that in design, in the end, nothing is actually new but is a small evolution of something that previously existed.

The speech marked the beginning of Grima’s second year as creative director of the school. It will be the first year in which the school’s famous Graduation Show, part of Dutch Design Week in October, will be located outside of the school building at a new location – De Campina (Kanaaldijk-Zuid, Eindhoven)

This year will also see three young, international design studios pitch to create a new visual identity for the school. The studios, all run by designers under the age of 35, will each present their work and their ideas for the school to the student body in a series of lectures this trimester. They are Michael Oswell, Simon C Niquille and Studio Folder

They’re all going to bring some radical and provocative ideas about what it means for an institution to represent itself today,” said Grima. “Every member of the Academy community will be given a vote [on which studio to choose]. This is a very big decision, it’s going to stick with the school for a long time, it’s a big responsibility.” Voting for the preferred studio will open on 14 September via the DAE Intranet.

Grima’s speech was part of a ceremony on 4 September to mark the opening of the new academic year, which also saw the announcement of the annual Gijs Bakker, Melkweg and Rene Smeets Awards for the best Master’s and Bachelor’s graduate projects. A new prize, The New Rotterdam Talent Award, was also announced during the event.

The awards announcements were followed by a party attended by current students and recent graduates, as well as tutors, course heads and administrative staff. 

Text by Anna Winston, second year Design Curating and Writing student. ​


Published: 14-Sep-2018 14:55


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  • DAE has responsibility to “design design''

    Creative Director Joseph Grima on stage. Image by Angeline Swinkels

  • DAE has responsibility to “design design''

    Festive closing of the evening. Image by Angeline Swinkels

  • DAE has responsibility to “design design''

    DJ choosing which songs to play. Image by Angeline Swinkels