Self unSelf @ Salone del Mobile 2014

Self unSelf @ Salone del Mobile 2014

News letter cover

The Design Academy of Eindhoven ( DAE ) alumni presented their graduation projects in Milan, Italy: at the Lambretto Art Project Building.

Curators Thomas Widdershoven and Jan Konings produced the exhibition under the theme “Self Unself”, the same thread that ran through the DAE Graduation Show and the recent show at the Van Abbe Museum for the 2013 Dutch Design Week

In every location, the Theme manifests itself in different ways.

All the initiatives presented emerged from an investigation conducted on the relationship between Self and Unself in design, used to identify and analyse what is new.

While on the one hand DAE students are taught to cultivate a certain egocentric approach in design, for the end of year exam they have to develop work in which their talent is placed at the service of projects in healthcare, open-source production, new economic systems, all voted to altruism as with the most evolved part of contemporary design.

The ‘self’ in the exhibition title still first and foremost refers to the student. The Design Academy of Eindhoven is fully focused on the talents, preferences and fascinations of its students. For their graduation they have to initiate projects themselves, in which these come to the fore.

But when you look at those projects – about healthcare, open source production, new economic systems – they come across as pretty altruistic. Contemporary design is very much oriented toward the ‘unself’.’


Where Objects and Issues Meet by Thomas Widdershoven ( Director DAE )

Thomas Widdershoven

In Milan two worlds meet.

In the city center the opulent Duomo catches the evening light. Next to it stands a huge palace of commerce, the 19th century shopping gallery Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. The material meets the spiritual.

The two contrasting structures come together on a public square. If you go into the Duomo the light exterior crosses into a dark interior so abruptly that it feels like a transition of one world into another. The Gallery is the opposite. It’s a passage. You don’t go in, you go through. You enter without realizing that you have entered. You just feel a gradually growing sense of richness – in architecture, in window- dressing, in commodities – that you unknowingly have become part of.

Where the Duomo excites wonder, the Galleria excites desire.

In 1988 the Design Academy Eindhoven changed it’s perspective, shifting from industrial design to man-centered design.  A humanist stance that fitted the time. Post-modernism and punk were fading away, together with the youth unemployment of the eighties.

A brighter future called for brighter design: post-post- modernism, super modernism or happy modernism – whatever we call it. Design was playful, ironic and low tech.

In 1993 a first generation of the academy’s new-style graduates were presented in Milan by Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers under the name Droog. Conceptual design with an ironic twist brought life to the Salone del Mobile.

When Tonny Holtrust and I were appointed last year to direct the Academy, we started questioning the man-centered design perspective.

As a first impulse we interpreted man-centered to mean student-centered. We are an institute for student-centered design education.

Each year we bring a group of young talents together from all over the world. We handpick them, selecting for talent, motivation and personality. And then we try to help them develop their talents.

This was the same when I entered the Rietveld Academy 25 years ago. And it is still essential to our academy now. So what is new?

‘Self’ and ‘Unself’ are two words that popped into my mind when trying to identify and analyze what is new.

Our students present self initiated projects with an unselfish inclination. Many projects raise social issues and are geared towards the collective good.

This seems fitting in a time of growing youth unemployment. Career recipes have gone, the world is no longer straightforward, the beaten tracks have become overgrown. The new generation is exploring new economic models.

‘Self’ and ‘Unself’ are opposites. In my mind they form an axis, a dialectics.

As a decentration: as if we stepped out of a self-centered position to start thinking in terms of relationships.

Self Unself Milan explained by Thomas Widdershoven at design debate.

Since coining the term ‘Self Unself’ last year at graduation, I have been using it to research present positions in design.

Part of this research was done in a practical sense by curating shows at the academy, at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, in Shenzhen and in New York. And now in Milan.

Milan is a bazaar of things.

Thinking about Self Unself in Milan means thinking about objects, things, commodities. But many of our students stray away from objects or excel in other forms of expression like performances, films or debates.

We want to show the one and the other.

In Milan two worlds meet. In the exhibition this means that next to objects we offer a program. Next to ‘presenting’ we offer ‘happening’.

The objects on show sit on pedestals of varying height in order to make room for interventions.

Self Unself presents a sort of public square where objects and issues meet.

love the sign salone milan 2014 (4)


love the sign salone milan 2014 (1)

According to Thomas Widdershoven ….The Milan Furniture Fair, is a multitude of things but design is yet more. In as much as designers can materialise your idea in an object in porcelain, wood or fabric but it can also assume the form of audio-visual or technological devices, laboratories and debates. These two paths converge in the event in Milan that aims to be a lively forum where many things can happen, with or without objects


Participating DAE Graduate designers

Alexandre Humbert, Arnout Meijer, Aurelie Hoegie, Bas Kamp, Ben Landau, Bora Hong, Dave Hakkens, Dave Hakkens, Echo Yang, Erik van de Wijdeven, Erwin van der Krogt, Esther Jongsma, Gintare Cerniauskaite, Inge Kuipers, Jan Pieter Kaptein, Jeannette Petrik, Jules van den Langenberg, Maayan Pesach, Marie-Elsa Batteaux, Martijn van Strien, Martina Muzi, Matthias Borowski, Matthijs Holland, Monica Alisse, Nienke Bongers, Nina van Bart, Pablo Calderon, Philip Weber, Renée Scheepers, Sanne Ree Barthels, Silvia Modigliani, Simas Zabulionis, Tristan Girard, Tsuyoshi Hayashi, Wei Lun Tseng, Willem van Doorn, Anne Couillaud, Anne van Galen, Debby Yu, Debby Yu, Denise Gons, Denise Stoopen, Franciska Meijers, Francois Duquesnoy, Gerard Jasperse, Jaap van der Schaaf, Joram Raaijmakers, Maud van Deursen, Nick Meehan, Rudi Boiten, Sotiris the Wit, Tijmen Smeulders, Ward Goes


Other 2014 Milan Salone DAE Events programme

What Happens to Dutch Wallpaper ?


Artists Lernet and Sander were commissioned by the Het Nieuwe Instituut to create an exhibition by using the historical wallpaper archive by manufacturer Rath and Doodeheefver.

In the twenties, Rath & Doodeheefver worked with architect H.P. Berlage and until the eighties their wallpapers were seen in thousands of Dutch interiors.


Self Unself – Networking Reception

self unself networking reception

The networking event was organised at Lambrate Arts project by the DAE together with the Dutch Consulate, Stimuleringsfonds and Het Nieuwe Instituut.

A lot of designers, journalists and industry professionals and the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science ( Jet Bussemaker ) who addressed the audience




The Secret Cookie Factory

secret cookie factory

Would you give your personal secrets to a stranger ?  You will be very tempted by this group of fortune cookie makers at the Secret Cookie Factory

secret cookie

cookie factory

cookie factory

Maxime Benvenuto, Anne Texier, Juhee Hahm, Floriane Misslin, Daeun Lim, Bo van Bommel


Self Unself – Talks

Self Unself unfolded by inspirational graduates, design critics and curators of the show for morning coffee or your afternoon tea !

Over the past few years, the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) developed the healthy tradition to start the busy Milan days with a solid breakfast talk.

3 Breakfast talks and 2 Tea-time talks: The DAE invited acknowledged design thinkers and makers for nourishing discussions.

Through the Talks, the DAE discussed how design education can stimulate a healthy ego, what role designers can play for societal issues and the creative economy and how we can create a flourishing culture for design critique.

The talks were also a good opportunity for the DAE to introduce its new directors – Thomas Widdershoven (creative director) and Tonny Holtrust (educational director)

As well as introduce the new Masters Programm for Design Curating and Writing that will start from September, 2014 at the DAE

All talks were moderated by Tracy Metz, journalist and author on urban and spatial issues.


Breakfast Talks No 2

Thomas Widdershoven, creative director Design Academy Eindhoven about the exhibition theme Self Unself.

self unself breakfast talk

“Designers self initiate projects with often very unselfish ideas. They gear towards new economic models, aiming for transparency. Besides they more and more work in collaborative teams using each others skills and expertise. The topic Self Unself is a perfect tool to discuss these issues.”



Thomas Widdershoven, creative director Design Academy Eindhoven & director studio

Thonik Alexandra Midal, freelance curator, head of Masters programme HEAD (Haute ecole d’art) in Geneva

Dave Hakkens, graduate Design Academy Eindhoven,

Bora Hong, graduate Design Academy Eindhoven, gradation project Cosmetic Surgery


breakfast (1)


Breakfast Talk 4

Research Ourselves

breakfast talk 4

Design today is called upon by the economy, society and culture to help build bridges between previously separate disciplines and interest groups, because no expertise alone can solve the complex ‘wicked’ problems we are facing today.

The Readership Strategic Creativity at Design Academy Eindhoven investigates how designers can create knowledge that enables creativity to play a more strategic role in service innovation for society and the economy, by placing ‘doing design’ at the heart of doing research.

What can design research contribute to existing forms of research? What are the skills that need to be trained for this?

How can this strengthen the Creative Economy?



Bas Raijmakers, reader Strategic Creativity at Design Academy Eindhoven & creative director of STBY

Anne Meroni, researcher at Design and Innovation for Sustainability, of the Department INDACO (Industrial Design, Arts, Communication and Fashion) of Politecnico di Milano

Sara Ferrari, Director and Founder Sara Ferrari Design

Share your thoughts