Awards 2017, and the Winners Are....

Willem de Kooning Academy
Fri 30 Jun

Research Award

The Willem de Kooning Research Award was established by the Willem de Kooning Foundation in 2015 to emphasize the central role of artistic and design research within the newly introduced curriculum.

The Willem de Kooning Research Awards are not prizes for just theses or research documents but for projects merging theory and practice where art or design work is a vital part of the research.  The Awards are granted to graduation projects that combine theoretical and field research with artistic research and which provide new insights to broader audiences of experts and the public at large. Valuing art and design research, the Willem de Kooning Academy will grant three awards instead of just one starting from 2016. Next to the prize money of € 1500, € 1000 and € 500 respectively, the first winning project will also be honoured with a publication by WdKA. This publication is not a conventional research book or catalogue, but an experimental publication to be developed within WdKA’s Hybrid Publishing Practices. It can take any form that is best suited to each project: electronic and print, performative, presentational.

Jury Research Award (BA) 2017: Robin van den Akker; Klaas Kuitenbrouwer; Hilde Westerink; Florian Cramer (chairman), Jojanneke Gijsen (secretary).

Winners WdKA Bachelor Research Award 2017:

First Award: Blind Geordend (Blindly Organised) by Sophie Dirven

"This project has an extremely original point of departure, since it employs blind people as experts for keeping order, thus involving users as designers. The framing of a so-called minority issue as expertise is very strong and transcends this specific project. Research, methodology and product are closely interconnected, crystal-clear and realised on a professional level."

Second Award: Harde Feiten, Zachte Interpretaties (Hard Facts, Soft Interpretations) by Amy Guijt

"This project is a therapeutic toolkit for children in psychiatric treatment. It combines subjective and objective perspective, with a good balance of distance and methodological rigour on the one hand and engagement on the other. It involves the textbook use of external expertise, and experience experts are intelligently used as sources."

Third Award: De Kunst van Tourette  (The Art of Tourette) by Corlieske Visser

"Corlieske’s research is of high quality in general, but especially successful from an artistic perspective. Aside from the socially oriented research question, the aesthetic dimensions of the research are very well thought-through."

And lastly, an extra announcement:

The jury was so impressed by another project that it decided to make it a third award winner, too: The Data Topos by Ioana Tomici. "This dystopian scenario of a society under total digital surveillance does a lot with little means, is strong in its discursive and theoretical aspects and on the level of storytelling."


The Drempelprijs have been awarded annually since 1962 by the Municipality of Rotterdam (Gemeente Rotterdam) to one or more graduates of the Willem de Kooning Academy. Originally, the prize was awarded only to fine art graduates; since 1968 applied arts graduates have also been eligible. The prize is an incentive award, with a nice sum of money: € 5,000. In the WdKA’s new curriculum, the traditional distinction between fine art and applied work is no longer considered relevant. Since 2014, the Drempelprijs awarded to students within the three graduation profiles: autonomous, social and commercial practices.

Winners Drempelprijs 2017:

Autonomous Practices: Ioana Tomici (The Data Topos)

"The Jury was struck by a speculative design project envisaging an extremely fictional narrative of mass-surveillance techno-power and large-scale data-mining, offering us an assemblage of items –softwaree and hardware, text, and imagery – that ingeniuously remind us of constant monitoring and virtual stalking." Read the full Autonomous Practices jury report.

Social Practices: Elise Marcus (Mother Earth Network)

"Elise surprised us with a 3D-installation that demonstrates her ‘Mother Earth Network’ in which she invites citizens to upload all sorts of data sets on all aspects of nature and planet earth at large into a digital network." Read the full Social Practices jury report.

Commercial Practices: Amy Guijt (Harde Feiten, Zachte Interpretaties / Hard Facts, Soft Interpretations)

"The winner has started from herself and worked to a design that could be of any meaning. The final product fits her vision of the future and gives her more opportunities." Read the full Commercial Practices jury report.