This week-end Hlow was in Eindhoven and in Kortrijk (of which you will also have a overview in a futur post). We discovered A LOT of great pieces. I guess you won’t have it all at once. So this is only the first part of our dicoveries in Eindhoven. We hope you will enjoy it as much we did. As a start I would like to talk about the city, Eindhoven, an industrial city, where everything is named after the big central mother company: Philip’s. But it is also a town that has managed to reconvert itself through design. It’s not only the place where the academy is located (one of the two best design schools in the world with the ECAL in Lausanne), it is also a place for all the designers to open their practice, as it is quite cheap and full of factory reconversion that are ideal for designers. As it is in the Netherlands, everybody was travelling by bike, there was nearly no cars, and the places were crowded. In Holland, we take design seriously!

First piece we came accross at the academy, was Mila Chorbadzhieva‘s Immemoral Lanscapes. It is about Bulgaria, its past and its evolution toward acceptation: ” Bulgarian society has seen great social and economic turmoil since it radically turned its back on communism. ‘Immemorable Landscapes’ offers a revaluation of an era whose impact is still so palpable. Researching period architecture, specifically the use of concrete, Mila Chorbadzhieva takes distinctive details from monuments that have stood neglected for decades and casts them in a mix of concrete and resin, to be reintroduced as architectural elements or decoration. Mila says of her visual reminders: “To confront, accept and know our past, to shake off the shame and negativism – this seems to be the only way to move on.”

Then we came across Marble Earth by BART JOACHIM VAN UDEN. Here is the text on the brochure “The ‘Marble Earth’ furniture range plays with our appreciation of chipboard furniture with a decorative top layer. We tend to like it because it is cheaper than solid wood furniture, but it has an aura of discount brochures and mediocrity. Our solution is to cover it up with imitation wood prints. But why stick to a ‘birch’ cupboard door? An ‘oak’ kitchen worktop? Why not embrace the full potential of the material? Bart Joachim van Uden re-imagines our self-deceit. He uses images from Google Earth, selected to look just like exclusive natural stone, and combines them with the aesthetic details of standard furniture production.” To me it is not any news. The people that used laminated flat patterns on furniture the Memphis group, so it is wonder, in the midst of its revival, and while Marble is at the summit of its glory, one encounters a piece like Marble Earth, but it is true the result is more than just that, it is stunningly beautiful and not kitsch at all.

The next piece, Just a Scarf by Kris Vleugels is as conceptual as it is graphic: each line on the pattern is a folding line to adapt the scarf to a different culture. It has been designed to be able to embrace as many religions and cultures as possible, and it is a way to answer with love and beauty to sterile polemics such as the one around the veil.

Dinstinctive Hue by Renée Mes, is a sort of structure or giant screen that creates warmth and delight to a-personal places such as hospitals.

Then, we encountered Forrest Wool, by Tamara Orjola, who got her diploma Cum Laude, was the nominee for the Rene Smeets Award, and the Keep an Eye Grant, and was the winner of the Brains Award. It is a very smart research on material. The idea is to use pine needles as “pinetrees are the world’s main source of timber. Every year 600 million pine trees are cut down in the EU only. But there is more to the tree than just wood: pine needles account for 20 to 30 percent of its mass.” And until now these needles are unused. With random and affordable industrial techniques, Tamara creates an ecological high quality wool. Well done!

Charlotte Therre‘s wellness devices for modern workers, called Body at Work, are less of a revolution but they are indeed desirable and elegant. The fact that Charlotte’s studio is in South Korea, somehow does not surprise me. This series looks like a form of lacquered ritual object. I am very receptive to this kind of patiently obtained sacred harmony. And I think that using it for a wellness device is also a philosophical gesture: our new religion is about preparing the body to productivity.

Next, 21G by Seungbin Yang is also a material revolution. Basically it is lacquered paper. So it is at the same time very light, water resistant, nobly finished, durable, sterilized and eco-friendly. The technique is an ancient Korean natural lacquer called ott-chil that is on the verge of dying out.

Hayo Gebauer‘s Props’s for Order is also about sacralizing the profane, it is sacrilizing the notion of order. “Sorting things and reorganising them is as natural as birds collecting and assembling sticks to make their nests. But sometimes we can get hung up on the act of establishing order. It can become an obsession. With ‘Props for Order’ Hayo Gebauer aims to show the beauty of such behaviour. Instead of hiding our storage systems away like a dirty habit, these objects are designed to use in plain sight, for all to admire”.

Eloise Maës‘s Inner Weather  is “ a design for an air cooler and humidifier, was based on Eloïse Maës’ research of porcelain sand with Studio Unfold. Porcelain possesses the ability to absorb and diffuse water. Its porous nature allows the water to soak into the cavities between the tiny grains of porcelain sand. If you add color to the liquid, the water’s path becomes even more fascinating to track, and pouring and watching it becomes like a meditative ritual. When the water evaporates, the color remains, and the process repeats when you pour again.”

Sejoon Kim is interested in “cuteness” and in why he is more attracted to it than Europeans. His hypothesis is that “with its rigid hierarchy, Confucian culture brought a hidden desire for dominance and control. The rise of commercialism and its powerful marketing aimed at children over the past decades did the rest. Kim believes that when people find something cute, there is an inherent sense of superiority, domination and even violence. Satisfying these urges stimulates the human pleasure centres. Acknowledging both loveliness and darkness can be necessary and useful; it may help alleviate the human urge for control and conquest. This is why he has incorporated these conflicting qualities in his designs.” As you will surely have guessed by now, the name of his series is Cute.

This is only half of it guys, you will soon be able to discover the other pieces. That is a promise!

Sigve Knutson‘s Drawn Objects is about relinking design, or the object production process, to the spontaneity of drawings and crafts.

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