IF NOT US, THEN WHO?
We’re back with a vengeance!
As every year, MARE was out and about spotting new trends, questioning everything and rolling up our sleeves to participate in everything DDW. In fact, some of us even took our shirts off, to be massaged by spider-like creepy crawlers (more info soon!). However, our top priority was to meet the next generation of design graduates, visionaries and problem solvers a.k.a. Sparks. As the Design Academy states: Their work deals with topics from the fun to the serious to the prickly and uncomfortable. The exhibition can be read as an exploration of society from all angles showing the ideas and preoccupations of the times in which we live.
All of the amazing insights we gathered, culminated in an interactive trendtalk at Hutspot. Together with 4 designers we unraveled the ‘why’ behind these projects, inspiring curious minds at large to become active and engaged trend watchers. All with the intent to encourage our audience to reflect on the ‘stuff’ around them.
Introducing the fantastic three graduates, who we asked to join us during our DDW Extravaganza at Hutspot.
Anna Aagaard Jensen created public seats for women only, encouraging them to claim their space in a way that comes naturally to the opposite sex. Confidently leaning back, legs wide apart and not worrying about what everybody else might think. Indeed, full-on manspreading. Where society still expects women to look, stand and sit like elegant ‘sculptures’, Anna Jensen suggests an ideal world in which women feel equally free in their body language as men do. The color of the pink seats was created using make-up - a middle finger to the idea of women feeling they have to cover up imperfections. The grotesque shapes, uplift anyone seated on top, forcing them into a self-assured, ‘manspreading’ pose. In our book, a powerful way to challenge the boundaries of conventions that fits right into our Mass Avant-Garde trend.
Masaya Kochi’s hypnotic, interactive installation immediately caught our eye. His project is a digital exploration of the Japanese Ema ritual, aimed at bridging the gap between ancient traditions and new media. Traditionally, Shinto worshippers hang their wishes on public shrines for others to read, but this interactive ‘wish cloud’ application has a much wider reach as it allows wishes to transcend borders. Masaya provides a common ground for our universal longing to “ask the universe”, without having to visit a shrine. The way it works is simple: swipe your deepest aspirations from your phone into the cloud and watch it come to life through the installation. At its core, it is an abstract human database that combines new technologies with ancient rituals and we therefore see it as a perfect example of the Ancient Futures trend. A theme we expect to be posting about more often.
At DDW, there’s always one project that brings tears to our eyes and this year it was Seo-kyung Kim’s poetry book, completely written by a robot. The robot had studied 800 works of romantic literature from Tolstoy to Brontë, Joyce and Kafka. While robots may seem autonomous, we should never forget that their behavior is shaped by us. This project explores the relationship between a machine’s performance and our own input. Each sentence is created by an algorithm that finds possible patterns in word order, forming interesting new — and mostly grammatically sound — content. ‘I am not going to cry for humans?’ packs a punch when one realizes that it is a sentence created by a robot. But what really got us was “the large room was full of despair and sadness.” Here too, the Ancient Futures theme suggests we reflect on the type of content we choose to shape the AI in our lives.
Shout-out to our friends at Hutspot for hosting us, to the lovely people at We Crave for the surreal food experience and last but not least to DUS Architects who opened our eyes to the potential of using 3D-printing to revolutionize how we make our cities. We’ll be knocking on your door shortly for an in-depth interview!
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. This word of warning, known from the side mirrors of cars, captures the way we feel looking back at Dutch Design Week 2018. The notion is also in line with this year’s theme, If not us, then who? It conveys a sense of urgency from a generation of designers who feel responsible to declutter the noise around them and come up with designated solutions to very real problems.
Interested in a deep dive into the world of DDW 2018 and what these innovations mean for your organisation? Don’t be hesitant to reach out. In the meantime follow this space for more amazing design projects!