ennu visits DDW
Dutch Design Week – a seven-or-nine-day (depending on your involvement) celebration of Design as a multi-disciplinary phenomenon which connects makers and spectators from all ends of the creative spectrum. It is the largest design event in Northern Europe, this year encompassing an impressive 427 different events including various lectures, debates, exhibitions, networking pavilions, performances and entertainment.
Needless to say that as avid lovers of creativity, we wanted to attend as many of these as humanly possible in our one-day field trip to Eindhoven – the decades-long host of this growing and glowing platform for creative expression. This was naturally beyond the limits of human achievement, so we decided to narrow-down our interest in the festival. Rather predictably, we were most drawn to attend the happenings closest to our hearts – fashion and textile design, as well as the more puristic expressions of these disciplines, which do not necessarily require a wearer. We focused in on some of the hippest and most-saturated venues on the map, where innovation and young talent, which were focuses of this year’s edition to begin with, were most prevalent.
FIRST STOP :: PERRON
We began our journey next to the train station of Eindhoven, at the Design Perron – a relatively new space for exhibitions and social events. Upon entry, we are overwhelmed by the multitude of colours, shape and textures that permeate this minimalist space.
Our first encounter is with Dutch visual artist, fashion and print designer Sophia Wantia of Studio Wantia and her richly-hued playful 3-D collage / installation “Need to Play”. The bright shades of lemon yellow, contrasted by an IKEA-bag blue speak to our love of rich primary colours and the way they can drastically elevate one’s mood. The textures included shiny nylons, smooth poplins, squeaky plastics and rubbers, as well as spongy and fluffy objects which invite the curiosity of touch. Indeed, the artist’s motivation in choosing these combinations were to incite joyfulness and optimism, as an antidote to the stressors of everyday life.
The second highlight of our Perron visit were the subtle yet striking works of Iris Lucia Megens from her “Between the Lines” series. The artist approaches us and gives us an in-person walkthrough. It explores a futuristic modus of designing through creation, employing the immediacy and tactility of working with a 3D-printing pen. This imaginative process pushes the technological boundaries of the tool, as well as the classical model of the separate stages of production. The direct visualisation and realisation expands the possibilities of fleshing out one’s ideas and puts emphasis on the power of imagination. Once again, the deep ultramarine blue draws us in to learn of its symbolic use, which echoes the colour of ink in the ubiquitous ball-point pen.
Not more than two meters away lay the stark leather creations of Moscow-born, Gerrit Rietveld Academy-graduate Yana Monk whose Amderma collection recognises our innate need to travel and escape the moulds of an increasingly overpopulated global society. She took inspiration from visiting the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, an indigenous area, in an effort to study an authetntic nomadic habitat. The tonality of the collection takes after pale arctic landscapes; the forms express a spontaneity mirroring the local architecture. The exaggerated shapes and ad-hoc silhouettes, perfected with brushed finishes and beautiful tonal hardware gave us the avant-garde fix we were so desperately after.
NEXT UP :: WAREHOUSE OF INNOVATION
Rather fittingly, the next venue we attended was situated the former V&D building, The Warehouse of Innovation’s theme was dubbed “New Order of Fashion / Modebelofte: The End is Near”. The idea behind this provocative title is to expose the injustices and absurdities interwoven within the current Fashion Industry, to challenge our habits of consumption, to propose new modes of creation, distribution and utilisation of fashion, which treat both the various stakeholders within the global supply chain, and the environment, which much needed respect.
The programme here was rather diverse, and was structured around themes of alternative production, social design and graduate collections. What grabbed our attention the most were the initiatives UNSEAM, and A Common Label. The former bridging the realms of digital design and local, on-demand modes production, and the latter providing an open platform for sharing methods to reuse more clothing by connecting consumers with makers and menders of clothing, encouraging a slow production process which considers the entire life cycle of a garment.
Within the graduation collections area, many young designers stood apart with their strong messages against gender norms, inequality, overconsumption, capitalism and the climate crisis, all the while presenting visually-captivating pieces which delivered the serious topics with a lot of wit and humour. Some favourites were:
Ahmed Serour‘s NonEGYBoi – a vibrant collection of male belly dancer costumes, questioning our notions of masculinity, kitsch, religion, queer identity and agency – Who dictates what is considered good or bad taste; what are the Western orientalist cliches about Arabic gender roles? A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Serour is based in Cairo.
Andrea Grossi’s DeusLand (after the chilling book Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari) fuses Tuscan and Umbrian leather craftsmanship with technological innovation such as laser-cutting, embossing and bonding to create characters within a larger narrative. It puts focus on 21st-century issues such as social sustainability by juxtaposing them towards historical phenomena such as the dominance of the Catholic church and Nazism.
DI DU, a Chinese fashion design graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, delivers a futuristic, hyper-feminine take on womenswear, which focuses on the dialectical relationship between camp and elegance. Designed to empower, as well as subvert, her phantasmagorical pieces have been worn by the likes of Arianna Grande. Rosalía, Rico Nasty and Sita Abellán.
Esra Copur (BA Fashion, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht) critiques contemporary consumer patterns of throwaway culture, picturing people as programmed individuals whose purchases are driven by compulsion, as opposed to fulfilling a functional or higher need. Copur renders the wearer as trapped within a garment rail, pressured by their environment to consume automatically and repetitively ad nauseam. The research for this project roots in the century-old idea of Dadaist artist Raoul Hausmann, whose work Mechanical Head sees humans robbed of their agency to make rational decisions, driven only by their immediate environment.
PRE[SSOC] Ka Yee Kee’s graduate collection SLAVE SALARYMAN originated in her research on the Capitalist system, particularly in how it manifests in Japanese work culture. The exaggerated shapes of the shoulders and tie, symbols of power within the Capitalist vocabulary symbolise the overwhelming pressure the Japanese upper middle class businessmen experiences on his shoulders on a daily basis. She chose to use the modern-day workwear uniform – the corporate suit – as the sole piece in her graduate collection, pushing the boundaries of this otherwise constricted and de-identifying garb.
Valentine Tinchant’s PACO RANDOMME took inspiration from the Ethiopian Daasanach tribe who use waste to create accessories, as well as the visionary linking techniques used by Paco Rabanne in the 1960s. The main material used is ‘resinovo’, an innovative up-cycled material, consisting of 95% recycled resin from car windshields saved from landfills. The 15,000 metal rings used are also recyclable, and the pattern used for creating the pictured cape is created with a zero-waste approach in mind, in addition to being handmade without the use of electricity or machines. Other materials include old magazine pages, cigarette packages and pictures of flowers, babies and guns, the eclectic symbolism of which reflects modern society, according to the artist.
WRAP UP :: VEEM
Our visit comes to an end at the brutally beautiful Het Veem, located in the once-hermetically sealed sector of Eindhoven, Strijp-S. The Veem, with its breathtaking network of steam-pipe scaffolding, was once the testing ground of Philipps Electronics, where technological innovations came into existence. Unironically, this industrial marvel and its surroundings is now the testing grounds for an array of social innovations, including Plug-In City, Studio Toer, MU gallery, Vershal het Veem, and many many others. The most saturated expo was in zone B8, where hundreds of young creators could showcase their collections and projects – we give you the overview of our highlights.
SENSCOMMON – an Amsterdam-based label for lifestyle apparel gives the term updated a new meaning. Senscommon focuses on fabric innovation within everyday staples, to elevate them in terms of comfort, durability and resilience to our dynamic urban lifestyles. Challenging the conventional product categories and design processes, senscommon’s approach often begins with the functional benefits of a certain fabric, which then translates into its utility within a garment. From self-hygienising tees and jumpers with active-charcoal fibres to thermo-balancing ultra-soft merino body warmers, the minimalist label values your comfort and the longevity of the product above seasonality. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Ching-Hui Yang graduated from CSM with an MA in Material Futures before relocating to Amsterdam. Her jewellery focuses on the relationship between body and object, drawing inspiration from investigating people and their emotions. Utilising high-tech innovations such as 3D printing with new materials, Yang’s series titled Five Stages of Grief looks at the iterative process of coping with tragedy. The collection honours people struggling with physical and mental disability and aims to cultivate compassion and visibility. The material choice for each piece in the series is symbolic of the psychological process it manifests in the grieving person.
Evelyn Sitter’s Ada’s L&F takes inspiration from the patterns and prints of lost&found garments on the streets of Berlin, to create experimental textiles in the form of wall hangings, fabrics and items of clothing. Their creation employs traditional craftsmanship and fabric manipulation techniques with a low-energy process to reduce environmental impact. The stunning viscose fibres with shining surfaces recalling those of their synthetic counterparts are sourced from European mills’ deadstock and then woven by hand. Selvedges remain attached to the pieces, reducing waste and exploring new modes of display and wear. The aesthetic appearance of the pieces is an important focus which aims to shift public perceptions of conscious production towards being equally suited to luxury.
image copyrights: Evelyn Sitter.
We are extremely grateful to have been able to see all the talent and commitment to design the festival had put together. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage, for those who were not able to relish the experience first-hand. We highly recommend that you get some tickets and hop on the train next year, as the festival was really easy to manoeuvre and there is sufficient infrastructure and organisation put into making it an enjoyable experience.
Thank you for your readership and let us know what you think!
See you later,
Disclaiemer: all images our own unless otherwise stated