Dutch Design Week (DDW) returned to Eindhoven for nine days this month (October 19-27) with its usual blend of speculative, social, and experimental design as well as polished installations in high-ceilinged former factory spaces. This year’s theme was “If Not Now, Then When?” and many projects centered on new bio-based materials and products made out of dung, mycelium, and bauxite (the by-product of aluminum production), to name a few, as well as the latest generation of bioplastics. There was also a focus on circular designs that can be recycled or returned to the earth and on textural and tactile products that demanded you touch and enjoy them. If that all sounds a little serious, think again. With 2,600 designers in attendance and 120 locations involved, there was no shortage of humor, flair, and beauty. Here are 10 highlights.
1. Willem van Hooff’s flat vases
The flat vases (pictured far right) by Willem van Hooff had something ancestral and primordial about them, harking back to the vessels early humans used to carry food and liquids. The pieces were shown as part of Dutch Invertuals’ fantastic traveling exhibition exploring “The Circle,” that iconic timeless form, adding designers to its roster as it goes. The mesmerizing drapes, featuring work by “Invertuals” on them, were by EDHV design studio.
2. Studio Mieke Lucia’s Growing Textiles series
For Arnhem-based textile maker Studio Mieke Lucia it was all about texture and three-dimensional form. Founder Mieke Lucia van den Hout showed her Growing Textiles series (tactile wall pieces made out of discarded sheep’s wool and designed to enhance a room’s acoustics, pictured at left), a series called Textility (with embossed textural shapes) and hand-tufted wall carpets made from leftover materials from global flooring and carpet company Tarkett.
3. Tiipoi’s artisanal stoneware cookware
London-based design brand Tiipoi showed a collection of cookware and casseroles with a difference: because it has no glaze, it is completely circular. Made with powdered stone and clay by artisans in Longpi in northern India (3.7 miles from the border with Myanmar), the stoneware is shaped by hand over a plaster mould and polished using bamboo sticks and stones. The objects are fired in an open bonfire and smoked in sawdust to give them their distinctive cast iron appearance.
4. The Fluid Forces installation
The Dutch edition of Elle Decoration put on “Fluid Forces,” arguably the most seductive installation at DDW, in three rooms of an old factory space known as “the Bunker.” The space’s rough and pockmarked concrete walls contrasted beautifully with the soft and bulbous retro forms and bright colors of the interiors and furniture. We especially liked the custom-made wallpaper by Alex Proba, the swirling poured floors by Veerle Nanna, and the classic Lana armchair by Agnes Studio.
5. The Sett CE Sofa by Gispen and Peter van de Water
This Sett CE sofa by iconic Dutch design brand Gispen and designer Peter van de Water is notable for being made out of 95 percent recycled materials, some of it from the company’s own plastic waste stream. The body of the seat is 3D-printed and the back and seat are made of recycled polyether foam. What’s more, the sofa can be separated out and each component processed into something new. An exemplary piece, in more ways than one it was the winner of the Product category at the Dutch Design Awards.
6. Ott ceramics glaze by Seok-hyeon Yoon
So much glazed ceramics ends up in landfills as the hard, toxic, glassy glazes make recycling impossible. Seok-hyeon Yoon showed Ott at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show, a glaze made out of wood resin traditionally used to lacquer wooden objects in Korea. Ott doesn’t need to be baked and evaporates at high temperatures.
7. Reclaimed wooden bowls by Loyal Loot
Canadian collective Loyal Loot makes beautiful vibrant bowls out of locally reclaimed trees that have fallen or been cut down due to infrastructure needs or bad weather. The trees are hand selected, dried, turned, and finished with a high-gloss color and a water-based furniture finish for some bowls, or natural stone and charcoal pigments and a beeswax finish for others.
8. “Please Take Off Your Shoes!” by Sander Wassink
Artist and designer Sander Wassink created a surreal landscape of new work and prototypes in his studio in Section-C called “Please Take Off Your Shoes!” There were, among other things, cloud-shaped lights (one tumbling out of a bucket) and mirrors and an oversized human-shaped basket, all resting on a playful and sensuous landscape made from Desso carpet materials.
9. Erik van Schaften’s hogweed-based materials
Erik van Schaften turns giant hogweed, the infamous and invasive plant, into new materials and applications. With the bark he makes a beautiful and poetic-looking veneer, with the hollow trunk (mainly consisting of pulp) he makes insulating foam, and with the rest he makes a light but strong alternative cardboard. The plant is plentiful, requires no maintenance and spreads quickly, making it a perfect option for a potentially resource-scarce future.
10. Growing Pavilion by Company New Heroes
It wasn’t the most aesthetically beautiful structure at DDW, but it was one of the most fascinating. Designed and conceived by Company New Heroes, a multi-disciplinary arts collective, Growing Pavilion was a circular structure made almost entirely out of mycelium grown over several weeks onto a timber frame. The furniture inside was also made out of bio-based materials and the floors out of bio-laminates made from cattail plants, burlap, and potato starch. Outside the structure was encircled with a beautiful bench made of rice straw.
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