Art and design practices have a long history of research through close visual studies, prototyping, employing iterative design processes, experimenting with materials, and conversing with other historical, social and disciplinary frameworks. The Willem de Kooning Academy operates from the perspective that art and design research produces new forms of knowledge and practices, and is a catalyst for innovation and social transformation. Research is central to the Academy’s activities. It is constituted from a mix of critical and speculative thinking, theoretical inquiry, and experimentation through making. Outcomes and forms of dissemination arising from art and design research vary widely from publishing to exhibitions, artefacts, designs, symposia and presentations. Research is organised around curricula, expertise, media and material possibilities within The Stations, work done within the affiliated Research Centre and collaborations with national and international partners. Research domains arise from the curricular structure, clusters represent cross-domain activities, and labs involve multiple partnerships and knowledge-sharing networks.
Art and design research produces new forms of knowledge and practices and is a catalyst for innovation and social transformation.
Our Research Domains Are:
Three main research domains are clustered and embedded within the Willem de Kooning Academy’s core practices. It is important to note that the practices work across all disciplines. These are:
- Autonomous Practices are oriented towards the artist, designer or teacher whose work is directed towards self-organized projects and spaces. Autonomy has social, political, economic and poetic dimensions. It is a position to be continually negotiated and requires rigorous approaches to critical inquiry and production.
- Social Practices are oriented towards art, design and pedagogical approaches that practically engage in social issues by (re) imagining the processes and interactions that define society. Work involves dialogical engagement with people and their environment.
- Commercial Practices are oriented towards our new economy. Our world is changing rapidly fused for example by technological disruptive innovations. This changing world creates new opportunities and roles for prospective designers and artists. Creative input has never been so important to businesses as today. In order to develop new ways to create economic value, spot potentially untapped markets and come up with designs, products and services that are sustainable and make a difference, the designer/ artist is becoming an increasingly key player in achieving these goals.
Research Clusters work across the above three domains, or are bound to specific disciplines, expertise, and/or research centres:
- The art and visual culture professorships are a part of the external research unit Creating 010.
- Hybrid Publishing develops novel approaches to design, writing, reading, and embrace the pluriformity of publishing made possible through the legacies of Gutenberg’s press to present-day electronic publishing technologies. Researching and experimenting across media, Hybrid Publishing disseminates WdKA’s research while conducting research through making. Hybrid Publishing capitalizes on knowledge, skills and media found in the WdKA Publication Station, Creating 010 Research Centre, and Experimental Publishing specialisation within the Master Media Design and Communication programme at Piet Zwart Institute.
- Retail Innovation: In an age of online shopping and economic transformation, classical retail needs to reinvent itself in order to remain attractive. This cannot be solved with business economics alone but requires design thinking and new creative concepts. With ten years of research experience on new media and with communication, interior, product and service designers as teachers and students, WdKA sees itself uniquely equipped to contribute to the creative innovation of the retail sector. For this purpose, WdKA closely cooperates with Creating 010 Research Centre. A funding application for a major project has been submitted in 2016.
- Research Labs & Networks: Research labs involve external partners and broaden the WdKA research agenda and establish networks of peer review. RASL (Rotterdam Arts & Sciences Lab) is a collaboration between the Willem de Kooning Academy, Codarts and the Erasmus University. RASL is a platform in which the arts and sciences, students and teachers, education and research meet each other. Promoting knowledge exchange, RASL is a network for experimentation that stimulates new forms of collaboration. The Lab is characterised by three core elements: double degree, collaborative research and creative learning.
Photo: The Publication Station, Ossip van Duivebode. The Stations at the WdKA are an integral part of the research culture. It is as much about the ‘why’ as the ‘how’ that informs art and design processes of inquiry.