Dutch Design Week (DDW) is a large-scale and international event in Eindhoven that is focused on design. The event is the largest design event in Northern Europe, taking place annually at the end of October and showcasing the work and concepts of over 2,600 designers. Spread across some 100 venues throughout the city, the events include exhibitions, lectures, award ceremonies, networking events, debates and festivities.
DDW distinguishes itself from other design events by focusing on designing for the future. Although every conceivable discipline and aspect of design is covered during the event, there is an emphasis on experimentation, innovation and crossovers. Every year, special attention is paid to the work and development of young talent. We visited this year’s edition to capture the work of WdKA students and alumni. Below you can read three short interviews with students and alumni about their work and experience during the Dutch Design Week 2022.
Graphic Design alumni Nicol Colga and Edith Dingemans, who both graduated in 2022, presented their joint graduation project called ‘gURL’. Together they form Studio Comrades, a Rotterdam-based interdisciplinary design studio working within the intersection of graphic design, new technologies and topics of social relevance.
For their graduation project, Nicol and Edith were triggered by the changes that the new generation Alpha are facing due to technological innovations that impact the lives of young people. By building a speculative and ‘2.5Dimensional’ teenage bedroom installation, they explore the effects of digitization, online and offline self-expression and finding "retreat" in (digital) worlds in the year 2032. The bedroom includes an 80-page teen magazine, an audio track, face filters, 3D clothing and various custom-made gURL items and objects.
During their research, they interviewed young children that are part of generation Alpha. “What was fascinating to hear from them, is that they are already very much involved in virtual realities where they create their own avatars. With their avatar, they become someone who they can’t be in the real world. By doing this, they create a multilayered perception of self: the real self and their avatar. This triggered us to imagine how their personal safe space wil look like in 10 years from now: the bedroom”, says Nicol.
With this project they address themes like augmented reality, snapchat dysmorphia, the impact of influencers on young people, social media and mental health and cyber security. “We’re not pessimistic but we do want to encourage people to be conscious about technological changes and their social implications”, says Edith.
It’s the third time Nicol and Edith present this installation to the public. The expositions before DDW were both organized by WdKA. “It’s really interesting and inspiring to present our work here, within a professional context. We came up with a lot of new ideas for projects already, by seeing work from others. Also it’s really nice to see so many diverse visitors and see them interact with our work.”
FELT LIKE is an experimental research project where 3rd year WdKA Product Design students collaborated with In-Zee, a PET Felt company that makes sound absorbing products from recycled PET bottles. The students received their left over felt-like material made from 60% recycled plastic, that they used to experiment with. In this exhibition they want to show the endless possibilities and applications of In-Zee’s PET Felt.
We spoke to Daphné and Denisa, two product design students that told us about their design and experience at DDW. “When I first got the material, I explored all heat machines that I could possibly use to heat up the felt. I eventually used the heat machine from the ceramics station, and then started looking for ways to control the material and guide it into a pattern. The end result is this aesthetic design piece,” says Daphné. “I figured out that you can make fluffy parts out of the felt, which makes it suitable to grow plants out of. I thought it had something poetic to grow something out of plastic, to create a futuristic symbiose between plastic and plants,” says Denisa.
While all 31 students were given the same assignment, and sometimes even using the same machines, no outcome of the experiments are the same. At the presentation ‘Felt Like’ everyone’s individual approach, style and vision is displayed. This shows the versatility of the waste material, and the creativity of the students. “It’s super fun to present at DDW and talk with the other designers. I already received a lot of tips about how I could move forward with this project, which is really nice and helpful,” says Denisa.
Want to see more of the FELT LIKE designs? Check this instagram page to see all of them.
Hannah Sterke, WdKA Advertising alumna, presented the project ‘Go Back To The Kitchen’ that she graduated with in 2021. The project addresses sexism and insult towards women within video games. “The title of the project is based on one of the insults heard the most by women playing online video games, including me. Upon speaking through voice chat, your gender is revealed and you can be treated very differently from male gamers. Sexual harassment and insults relating to stereotypes and gender roles discourages women to play video games and creates an environment that is harmful and unwelcome,” says Hannah. Based on her research and personal experience on sexism and harassment, Hannah created a documentary providing insight into the world of sexism in online gaming. Alongside, she designed a toolset for female gamers that are based on items you can find in the kitchen to use in the video games itself. “By turning the insult into a weapon, you reappropriate the slur and thereby reclaim it. In this way I want to empower women in the most literal sense.”
After graduation Hannah started working at an advertising agency, but her dream is to work at a game studio to design women-friendly games. “It’s still a male dominated industry and I think more women in design teams will increase the production of more inclusive games that are targeted at a more diverse audience,” says Hannah.
DDW is a perfect opportunity for young designers like Hannah to connect with people from the industry. “Presenting my work at DDW means a lot to me. I got the chance to talk to a lot of different people who are interested in my project. I also met several other female gamers who have similar experiences and find comfort and support through my work, which is amazing.”
Do you want to know more about Hannah’s work? You can visit her website here.