Dutch Design Week 2015: 7 home trends

VISI.co.za, 30 October 2015

Design is one of the national pastimes of the Netherlands. Some 275 000 people descended on a town of 216 000 during the nine-day Dutch Design Week that ended on Sunday 25 October 2015 in Eindhoven.

Here are seven ways that the humour, romance, innovation, and sometimes just plain weirdness, of what was on show will soon be coming into your home.

1. Furniture gets a life

Embedding a touch of personality into furniture makes it come alive. Yksi showed how cabinets can become urban elements, or at least fantasize about a higher calling. Lucas Munoz turned the speaker into a fluffy creature. What artist Margriet Craens and designer Lucas Maassen did to normal domestic chairs will not soon be unseen: The Chair Affair book asks just how intimate our furniture likes to get.

2. Contemporary romantic

Also practically breathing were Studio Drift’s diaphanous Shylights, shortlisted for a Dutch Design Award. These utterly exquisite dandelion-like flowers open and close as they plunge down. Similarly harking back to old-fashioned whimsy was the bent-veneer and ceramic Viola coat hanger by Roos Sanders and Tijn van Orsouw intentionally made to be too beautiful to hide in the closet. Reviving the classic art of hand-caned chairs with exciting new patterns was Jonghlabel.

3. Candles in the wind

Romance without candles is nothing – clearly Europeans don’t need load shedding as an excuse. A plethora of all manner of holders and candles were on show everywhere, including the royal blue porcelain Bubble Collection by Jorine Oosterhoff and strikingly utilitarian Elbow by HeetmanPatijn. By Thomas van Rongen for Puik Art, the Candela brings a new shape to wax. Yet, why are we using wax, asked Tijn van Orsouw with his Vet Pot that burns on used cooking oil.

4. Textured textiles

Beyond simply fancy prints, intricate weaving and production methods are making textiles three-dimensional. Sanne Muiser needle-punched latex with wool and sisal to create a second, fur-like skin. Combining organic and synthetic materials, hand craft and machine techniques, Roos Soetekouw’s fabrics are each multi-dimensional masterpieces. Machine-knitted fashion, blankets and throws were seen throughout, best exemplified by the Plaids by Hella Jongerius, Simone Post and Studio Truly Truly for the Textiel Museum.

5. Food food food

Designed food experiences and concept pop-ups included Aart van Asseldonk’s indulgent banquet in a church, The Allegory of the South, and sustainable food practices from around the world at Age of Wonderland. Product-wise, Michal Avraham showed how to use chocolate to make design rocks that look almost too good to eat, and Mickey Philips’ tessellated plates insist on an intimately communal mealtime.


6. Tricks of the eye

Besides introducing an element of seeming magic into homes, optical illusions can also beneficially change the space. At the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show, Ward Wijnant showed the Spacelamp that with its curved mirror surface reflects light and enlarges a room during the day. At night, when the light is switched on, the mirror is turned translucent and the room becomes small and cosy again. Also playing on the changing light were the ethereal clocks by Daan Spanjers that use evolving colour combinations to show the time, like the sky.

7. Weird and wonderful

From chairs grown from mycelium fungi by Eric Klarenbeek to fashion made from human hair by Anouk van Klaveren, design materials are simply not what they used to be. Winner of the Young Designer title at the Dutch Design Awards was Teresa van Dongen with her bacteria-powered light installation showing that we’re already living in science fiction. The brand new future we live in also has 3D-printing producing personalised bras by Mesh Lingerie, woven vases and lamps by Atelier Robotique, and intricately detailed ceramics with fabric-like textures created by musical vibrations by Olivier van Herpt and Ricky van Broekhoven.


Find out more about Dutch Design Week at ddw.nl/en.

Highlights from Dutch Design Week 2015

Aart van Asseldonk’s the Allegory of the South

A young Eindhoven-based designer, Aart van Asseldonk’s epic wood, metal, fur and flower installation in the celestial surrounds of St Augustine church evoked complete aesthetic awe in every visitor, both in execution and in the sheer scale of his vision. Pieces from his range launched at Plusdesign Gallery in Milan earlier this year showed how he is contemporising the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.

Screenshot 2015-10-27 13.46.05
Conversation piece

Ten years after the original London Calling exhibition, Maarten Baas, Joost van Bleiswijk, Kiki van Eijk, Graham Hollick, Kranen/Gille, Tomáš Libertíny, Lucas & Lucas en Marc Mulders reprised their punk design philosophy to a present a new exhibition of design objects that engage with the changing times. Drawing on inspiration from The Clash and the Memphis design group, Van Ejik’s Conversation Piece demands that we just stop, think, talk and ask why again in design.


Big Chair Affair

The new book Big Chair Affair by Margriet Creens and Lucas Maassen was launched in conjunction with publisher and gallery Onamatopee’s new, more expansive space. Showing the suggestive coupling of furniture in a humorous way, the book talks to the intimate lives of our material possessions. It also represents the meeting point of art (Creens) and design (Maassen) methodologies.


That the bacteria-powered light installation wonTheresa van Dongen the Young Designer title at the Dutch Design Awards points to the groundswell of biological design applications – in particular mycelium (mushrooms) and bacteria – at DDW. The installation uses her Ambio light that works by supplying the bioluminescent micro-organisms that make waves glow at night with oxygen.


Days of Need and Greed
Days of Need and Greed

How can we live better with less? This is the essence of post-recession design, the counterpoint to Van Asseldonk’s opulence. Kristina Schultz explored this by empty her Stockholm apartment of all possessions – including her partner and child’s – and starting again, making one essential new thing every day. Roughly hewn, with austere ingenuity and personal preciousness, the results are delightfully surprising. The theme was also pervasive in the Age of Wonderland food projects from around the world.


Screenshot 2015-10-27 13.41.19
Thing Nothing

Also raising questions about value, substance and materiality was the group exhibition at the Van Abbe Museum, running until 15 November, curated by Thomas Widdershoven. Ordinary household objects lent to the museum by the general public were juxtaposed against design by the likes of Ai Weiwei, MVRDV, Dunne&Raby, Studio Drift and more. It is the final exhibition in a trilogy with Self Unself (2013) and Sense Nonsense (2014).


Limbo embassy

When design is no longer about fetishised things, its utility is increasingly interrogated. By Manon van Hoeckel, the Limbo Embassy is a mobile safe-space for refugees who seek asylum in the Netherlands. It as a finalist at the Dutch Design Awards and showed on the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show, among other projects that engaged with issues such as dyslexia, khaki ethics, public space engagement and loneliness among pensioners.