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“Design is learning, learning is design,” declares the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial—A School of Schools. The biennial considers the need to rethink design, education and design education at a time in which the traditional logic of material abundance and information scarcity has been inverted, and current social, political, economic and ecological systems are flailing.


“By naming the design biennial A School of Schools”, curator Jan Boelen explains, “we sought to go beyond the traditional ‘school-as-institution’ connotation. Everything and everywhere is a school, and every single interaction we have with design is pedagogical,” says Jan Boelen (head of Social Design Master), who curated the biennial with Nadine Botha (DAE graduate) and Vera Sacchetti. An exhibition and public programme of more than 100 interdisciplinary practitioners takes place across six cultural institutions in Istanbul from 22 September to 4 November.

With an emphasis on process, collaboration and dialogue however, the biennial sought to expand the spatial and durational limitations of an exhibition. For the past year, workshops have been presented in places ranging from Shenzhen to London, design research trips to Istanbul have been undertaken by designers and school groups (including DAE social design Master’s students under the tutelage of DAE graduates Henriette Waal and Martina Muzi), satellite events have been manifested in Milan (featuring DAE graduate Jon Stam) and Basel, a digital platform of interviews and research has been launched, and a reader comprising reflective essays and provocations compiled. Together, these intend to stretch the educational web of the biennial beyond a six-week event in a single city.

Questioning Design. Photo by Studio Joost Grooten.

The urgency to reconsider design education was also taken up by Design Academy, which is launching the Questioning Design magazine as part of the biennial’s public programme. Edited by Contextual Design Masters Head Louise Schouwenberg and Information Design Masters Head Joost Grootens, the publication reflects on how the academy’s Masters programmes explores some of the challenges facing the purpose and definition of contemporary design. Contributors include the heads of the Master’s programmes – Schouwenberg, Grootens, Boelen, Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir. Co-heads of the Design Curating and Writing Masters, Jaworska and Shafrir will launch the publication at an event at Akbank Sanat on Friday 21 September at 12pm.

Numerous Design Academy graduates are also featured in the biennial. Studio Legrand Jager present a new work considering the implications of machines going beyond facial recognition to emotional profiling. Inspired by a Turkish tea maker, Ottonie Von Roeder has developed a new addition to her Post-Labourtory robot series. Mark Henning designed a research installation exploring the relationship between trust, standards and the body. Juliette Pepin has developed a design workshop and infrastructure for the children’s programme. Muzi premieres a new film about her research into the role of family units in Chinese markets. Working with Arvid Jense, Marie Caye has developed a speculative bestiary of future life forms, called “Bestiary of Autonomous Machines“. The result of a collaboration with Stam, Jesse Howard (DAE tutor), Tim Knapen and Simon Bekker, the Commonplace information machines reimagine the linear construction of book-based knowledge.

Other participants who graduated from Design Academy include Marijke Annema, Atelier NL, Rogier Arents, Jurgen Bey, Amandine David (2018), Jonas Ersland, Studio Guus Kusters & Maarten Kolk, Bora Hong, Alexandre Humbert, Klarenbeek & Dros, Philipp Kolmann, Anastasia Kubrak, Boris Lancelot, Camilo Oliveira (2018), Helmut Smits, Vivien Tauchmann (2018), Thomas Trum, Unfold, Tjeerd Veenhoven, Giuditta Vendrame, and Daan Wubben.

For more information about the public programme and exhibition, and a full list of participants, visit

To see this year’s graduates of Design Academy Eindhoven, please visit the Graduation Show 2018 (G18) at De Campina (Kanaaldijk-Zuid, Eindhoven), our brand new location. After the Graduation Show 2018, a digital copy of Questioning Design can be requested by sending an email to

Published: 20-Sep-2018 18:42


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