A personal encounter of DDW 2017

This last weekend, I was in Eindhoven for the beginning of Dutch Design Week 2017. In an earlier post, I mentioned one of the projects but I am going to talk about some of the other projects and repeating themes I’ve been noticing. Just keep in mind, this is only the tip of the design week and only from my personal interests and perspective and not a review.

Radiax de Bijenkorf window installation by Martens & Visser. Low-tech, high craft, smart use of space and materials.

General trends:

Nature independency, nature inspired, and empathy in my opinion are not new trends but rather traditional methods used in science and engineering, however they have become more important for designers. This shows the merging of science, technology, and design as bio-hacking, sustainability, smart materials, AI and data science are on the rise in design.

Tumble Pulse: rethinking interaction with smart home products.

But one of the results of this is that many designers may be solving problems by focusing on the last stage of the problem instead of looking to the root of the problem. For example, I saw many projects based on memory-loss, dementia, and alzheimer’s. They try to help people remember usually through sensory triggers. But instead of designing for before memory loss, they’ve captured the very end of the problem, memory lost. Many projects also assume we no longer need to remember because we can get technology to help us. I’m all for new technology but I am definitely not giving up any of my human skills. Instead, we could design a device that would maintain human memory by purposely “forgetting” allowing the human to fend for themselves.

Kozie multi-sensory care applications specially developed for demented people.

Here’s my highlights from just 2 days at DDW:

Digging deep is digging hard. Students have been mining their own personal lives as well as data sets and codes of law and material and technological possibilities to address omnipresent concerns. — Design Academy Eindhoven

Pragmatic solutions

These products found a specific problem that they want to solve using technology that we now have but also thinking about the basic needs of life.

Hugsy makes the benefits of a parent’s embrace last longer, to provide comfort to babies even when their parents cannot be nearby.
The SEMiLLA Sanitation Hub is a closed wastewater treatment unit, using advanced space technology to convert sanitary wastewater into clean water and nutrients for food production.

Soundstallation

Since my Rainmaking on Mars project, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to sound-based projects and sound-making products.

Aleksandra Jakuć designs Metal Sounds, exploring different disciplines rooted in design
The Wiggle Kit by studio OWOW is a digital sound-making tool that artists can use as a creative medium

Sensory objects

This is a person area of interest for me because I’m interested in liberating senses of the body aside from visual through wearable technology and objects. Not only are these designs aesthetically pleasing, but also uses these other senses to connect humans with their body.

Wearable technology: Shani Langberg designs Body & Mind, monitoring and moderating the inhale and exhale.
Nienke Helder, Sexual Healing targeting women’s health through sensory pleasure.
Aurore Brard, Moving Memories a set of playful, intuitive tools, that mimic familiar specific movements in cooking, stimulating the senses and encouraging curiosity.
Roxanne Brennen, Dining Toys, re-discovering the experience of eating through a set of playful and sensual tableware inspired by sexuality.

Low-tech, high-craft

The Dutch value traditional and high-quality craftsmanship. Materials and the act of making is rooted in their design aesthetics. These projects are well-made and highly innovative in their method of fabrication. They play with the relationship between digital technology and physicality of the bodily experience.

Left: 3D printed modular instruments, PRINTSTRUMENT by Kristaps Politis, Middle: paper, one of the oldest materials used to transform performance, Paper Suit by Carlijn Veurink. Right: Yarn used to mimic a digital screen, Flux Rug by Tamara van Roij

Artificial Intelligence

Of course, it wouldn’t be a design festival in 2017 without this topic. But I found these projects interesting in their critical execution on AI.

I am also trying to find the affective states in human computer communication. This project uses emotion recognition and machine learning to translate the human emotion into sensory feedback. Some emotions just can’t be described by words but can they be described by machine?

The Post-Labouratory by Ottonie von Roeder is questioning the impact that automation could have on our lives in a humorous speculative future scenario around labour.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

It’s hard to pick a favourite but in relation to my thesis topic on gestures in attraction and interaction, I think the project that made the most impression was Dress_de_code by Dasha Tsapenko. Social, performative, and spatial, this project is a re-enactment of the daily routine of dressing in a predesigned, staged environment. I love that the topic is around daily routines, because that’s the area I find most inspiring, our unaware habits.

A collection of scenographic props forms the 3D score of a daily choreography. By introducing new material components and a movement vocabulary to the routine we take for granted, Dasha questions and challenges the ways we move and the body techniques we are accustomed to.

Dasha says, “how we use space became a way to design fashion” and by seeing the everyday gesture as a dance, the obstacles and installation gives the human body another way to experience the dressing space.

I have been thinking about how I can make people move in the space to experience my final major project involving a kinetic dress. During the performative piece, I use the costume to effect the performer’s movements, creating a symbiosis between performer and costume.