Where I'm @
Product Design

The Master of Unusual Materials

Isaac Monté
Wed 20 Dec
Being a designer is a lifestyle
Function Designer, WdKA tutor
Year 2013
Major Product Design
Practice Social Practices

Isaac Monté - Product Design - 2013. I am a pre-Practices era graduate. But my graduation project “Filter Factory” is a good example of Social Practices (Sustainability), the practice in which I am teaching now.


Filter Factory is a stament against the littering behaviour of smokers

An average smoker throws every year 2.5 kilo of cigarette ends on the street. Birds eat them, because they confuse them with food, and die as a result. On the other hand, birds are smart and use the cigarette filters while building their nests. Because the filters are made out of a synthetic fiber, they keep the eggs warm. Besides, the nicotine keeps leeches out of the nest, so the little chicks don’t die.
It is my aim to make smokers aware of their littering behaviour and reward them for their good behaviour instead of punishing them for bad behaviour. When cigarette end is thrown in the machine, it is shredded and the counter runs. Every three hundredth cigarette end, the machine door pops open and the lucky smoker can take a birdhouse home with him. The cigarette filters birdhouses are molded into shape in a sort of big waffle iron.

What is your occupation now?

I run my own design studio in Rotterdam and I am teaching at the department of Product Design and Social Practice (Sustainability).

What expertise did you gain at WdKA?

Before I started at WdKA, I have graduated as a Master in Interior Architecture, at Sint-Lucas in Belgium. The reason I wanted to study at WdKA was to gain workshop experience and to learn designing on a smaller scale (=products). I learned all of the above but I also learned to leave my comfort zone. To fail and to be okay with failure. To dare more, to do more, to stand out!


What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

My work is always science-based and I collaborate with scientists a lot. I believe we are moving towards the society run by interdisciplinary teams. For example, now that we are designing and redesigning our bodies with artificial organs (like a pacemaker), we could ask ourselves if this practice should be conducted by a medical doctor or by a designer, or by an interdisciplinary team. The scope of design practice is now being redefined, we see that designers’ skills can be applied in a wide variety of contexts and practices.

The Art of Deception

Humans use deception to achieve perfection in society, art and science. Reacting to this through art, we have taken discarded pig hearts and transformed them into elegant vessels for new life by decellularizing them and re-populating them with various techniques, into aesthetically improved hearts for humans.

Photo: Hanneke Wetzer

Decellularization marks a new era of synthetic biology – organs are stripped of their cellular contents, leaving behind a sterile scaffold that can be repopulated with stemcells. While the medical utilization of this resource is being realised, the artistic and creative value of ghost organs represents unexplored territory. With this collection of 21 transformed hearts we explore how biological interventions and aesthetic manipulation can be used as tools for the ultimate deception: the transformation of inner beauty, from grotesque to perfect. Can the ghost organ be a blank canvas for designers? Can organs be objects of design? Will humans be able to manipulate organs for aesthetic purposes? The discarded dead hearts will not function as canonical organs, but rather as a representation of how far science can manipulate the human body.

In collaboration with Professor Toby Kiers (Free University Amsterdam)
Commissioned by Bio Art & Design Awards, with the support of ZonMw (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development).
Project assistants: Iza Stepska & Elise Marcus

You never leave your house without…?

..my pants, cause it would look silly.

Any words of advice to future students?

Play hard, work harder. Being a designer is a lifestyle, you live design, you breathe design.

Name your favourite recent project.

Leek Paper - which will be presented during Dutch Design Week.

Leek Project

With 110 hectares of land, Jan van Lierop is one of the largest organic vegetable producers in the Netherlands. Cleaning these vegetables are the main source of waste within the process, which is currently being used as fertilizer. This is more of a solution to get rid of the waste rather than a fertilizer technique itself. As a starting point, we asked ourselves, can there be another application to this crop waste?

​During Dutch Design Week, visitors can literally see how we transform the waste into packaging and even participate in the process.

Visit Isaac's website to find out what he is up to now.

Cover photo: Hanneke Wetzer