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Written by Žan Kobal


“I would like to thank you”, Joseph Grima addressed the graduates. “Choosing to become a designer nowadays is crazy. And choosing to study at Design Academy Eindhoven is the most radical.” It was July 20th and over the last few days of exams, 54 new graduates proved that they were just that – radical.

Mechtild van den Hombergh, Director of Organization, opened the ceremony by giving thanks to the examination board, heads of departments, tutors and the coordinators of departments, emphasizing their hidden efforts of so many, to create a safe and inviting place to study. A place to push yourself and test your limits, what the graduates have done over the course of the last two years, whom she wished lots of success. “Find a place in the world where you can be influential,” she said, reminding them that this can be a lot of fun, but also carries a lot of responsibilities.

Joseph Grima, the schools Creative Director, encouraged the graduates to continue on their path of curiosity. To embrace curiosity as a fundamental gift of a designer, one that will help them catalyse their dreams and ambitions they have formed, allowing them the possibility to do that their whole lives. “What does it mean to be a designer today,” he asked. “Perhaps it is not about making things, but finding ways of re-balancing our existence”. It is not about building a bridge, but think of how to get to the other side of the valley.

Following the introductions, each of the heads of departments took centre stage, joined by their now former students, congratulating each of them and announcing the Cum Laude recipients and the nominees for the Gijs Bakker Award.

Joost Grootens of Information Design welcomed the 7th generation of graduates from the course, who have been questioning how news and knowledge are designed, working with an impressive array of topics and approaches. From mixed-media installations to short documentaries, the projects dealt with themes as diverse as internet infrastructures, national identity, female representation in media, cookies, the performativity of information and even doing nothing, to name a few. Julian Peschel, whose project unveiled the hidden mechanics and infrastructures of satellite technology juxtaposed with the ongoing migration situation, Giacomo Nanni, for his depth of research on human labour behind machine learning, and Domitille Debret were awarded Cum Laude. For her project on how to visualise quantum gravity or better yet, how to visualise something that is impossible to visualise without forcing and image onto a person, Camila Kennedy received a nomination for the Gijs Bakker Award. Next to being awarded Cum Laude, Domitille was also nominated for the Gijs Bakker Award, for a project she calls “a gentle act of anarchy”, disrupting web page tracking systems, with a help of an unlikely accomplice, a gold fish.

Head of department of Social Design, Jan Boelen emphasized the immense differences of topics. How can you make fences sensual, how can working with materials help us to better understand our reality and what does a millennial bed look like, were some of the questions asked, offering alternatives for present living and design. Cum Laude was awarded to Marianne Drews, for creating a transdisciplinary platform facilitating the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of soil as a resource. Two people were nominated for the Gijs Bakker Award; Maggie Laylon Saunders, who re-imagined a strip club to promote a more transparent financial system, boundaries for consent and bodily autonomy, and Ismaël Rifai. The project looked at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan mainland and the processes of smuggling as a production system.  His final piece, in a moment of a logistic miracle, arrived by post during his final exam presentation.

Next up were Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir who, for the past year, have taken on an incredibly difficult role of acting heads, even co-heads of Design Curating & Writing. They emphasized their attempt at de-professionalizing the course, moving towards the practices of care and facilitating a mental shift from what is being curated to how it is being curated. In De Fabriek the graduates presented an exhibition called “I Know That You Know (that they know that we might know), questioning existing hierarchies of knowing through empathy, poetry, performance, moving images and publishing as curatorial practices. Cum Laude was awarded to Esteban Gomez-Roselli for his performative lectures and diagrammatic space where love becomes a prop. The word itself is presented as a screen upon which others project their own interpretations. Laura Chapman received the Gijs Bakker Award nomination. Her project “Through the Emoji Looking Glass” looks at two collections, a fun and digital collection of emoji and the historic collection of the Rijksmuseum. By comparing and contrasting the two, the highly constructed and inherently biased nature of visual collections is revealed.

Last but not least, Louise Schouwenberg of Contextual Design bid farewell to a group of very good friends, a contextual design family, who in the last two years built a bond that will surely last a lifetime. “We’ve never seen a presentation that would represent what the department is as well as this year’s graduation show,” she stated. The plethora of approaches and topics presented a nonhomogeneous, yet extremely convincing account of searching for new horizons. Through material experimentation and a range of meaningful and semi-functional objects, the projects challenged our very notions of how we perceive and experience the world. Looking into machine learning, uncovering it’s biases by teaching an algorithm not to recognise the objective but more of the subjective, Vera van der Burg presented a project that was intensely personal, yet carries the capacity to make us question how we make sense of the world. For this, she was awarded Cum Laude, alongside Marie Rime, who created an invited stage for breaking the monotony of everyday life, emphasizing our cyclical experience of time and space. The project was realised at the European Ceramic Work Center in Oisterwijk, where she and Colette Aliman had an opportunity to develop their work. Colette, who created a sonic recalibration lab in order to better understand and connect with our sonic landscape, and Colin Keays were nominated for the Gijs Bakker award. In his work, Colin looked at the processes of gentrification and the subsequent diminishment of queer spaces, manifested in a form of a spatial installation.

As no ceremony can go without a hiccup, neither did this one. “Making is the heart of any design school,” started Grima, who introduced the Workshop Award and welcomed to the stage Andre Wiersma. The award was given to Colin Keays and was, in a surprising twist of events, later revoked, finally being presented to Robin Weidner of Social Design.

Grima concluded the ceremony by giving a special thanks to Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir for their work and incredible dedication as acting heads of Design Curating & Writing, a role that is being taken over by Saskia van Stein in the coming academic year.

Overall the graduation projects presented a multitude of approaches and attitudes on how to think, talk and engage with design. It is a group of multidisciplinary practitioners who are sure to enrich the field with new approaches and new narratives, all of which will be showcased at the Graduation Show 2019 during Dutch Design Week in October. For the second year in a row, the exhibition will be held at the former Campina Milk Factory, near Kanaaldijk-Zuid in Eindhoven. 

 

Published: 28-Jun-2019 12:09

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  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

    Photography by Boudewijn Bollmann

  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

    MA Information Design with Joost Grootens

  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

    MA Social Design with Jan Boelen

  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

    MA Design Writing & Curating with Agata Jaworska and Tamar Shafrir

  • MA Graduation Ceremony June 2019

    MA Contextual Design with Louise Schouwenberg