If you want to avoid the long lines for the Design Academy Graduation Show in October, then I have juuuust the thing for you. Because this prestigious Dutch school – alma mater of some of the best designers in the world – also happens to organize a Masters’ Graduation Exhibition in June. I thought it might be nice to check it out and so I hopped on the train to the town of Eindhoven, fully expecting massive crowds ooh-ing and aah-ing over all the provocative projects on display. Boy (and girl), was I wrong! I had the entire place almost to myself – and that, my dear readers, allowed me quietly rub my beard and ponder every detail. Long story short – it was bliss. You should try it next year, I’m sure you’ll love it! Let me show you some of the highlights from the Contextual Design graduation projects.
Lukas Saint-Joigny – Anatomic Construction
First up, Lukas Saint-Joigny thought long and hard about the anatomy of the everyday items that surround us. He threw off the shackles of functionality and aesthetics that limit every designer and created a series of objects that looked very innovative (even if some of them evoked the spirit of Nacho Carbonell – dare I say it?). Looking forward to what this talented student is going to do next!
Erika Emerén – Ornament Now
The reason why it seems I never get anything done around the house, is that I can start out doing a little online research for, let’s say, a blogpost and then end up frittering away an entire morning reading up on something totally random like Spettekaka. Since you’re probably as tempted as I was to look up what it is, let me save you a few hours and tell you here and now that Spettekaka is a traditional southern Swedish cake that is baked by rotating it on a spit over an open fire.
I live for finding out stuff like this and apparently I’m not alone since Erika Emerén turned Spettekaka into an entire graduation project. Bored with the homogenous flatness of modern Scandinavian design (aren’t we all at this point?), Emerén thought it was high time to go beyond the obvious and instead focus some of the more abundant and folksy traditions of Sweden. Hear, hear! Let them eat Spettekaka!
Anna Aagaard Jensen – A Basic Instinct
Since designer Anna Aagaard Jensen named her gradation project after the infamous Paul Verhoeven movie, let’s just cut to the chase and watch (and pause and rewind) the only Basic Instinct scene worth revisiting.
Yup, she went there. And not without reason, since powerful women are more than just the images of glamorous celebrities we see online. Being powerful also means taking on a different and more confident posture. A wide stance fits that bill perfectly, of course. To visualize this self-confident stance, Aagaard Jensen designed a series of objects that I myself was very tempted to sit on – until I read the accompanying note saying that they were for women only, that is. Oh, well.
Siri Bahlenberg – Guilty Pleasure
Break a mirror and you’ll throw it away. Crumple a piece of paper and it will end up in the bin. Tear your pantyhose and it’s gone in a New York minute. We all do it and let’s face it, we all feel slightly guilty about it. Swedish designer Siri Bahlenberg examines use, wear and tear of expensive items and asks herself: If disposable attributes are applied to objects that are normally considered to be enduring, will they gain an alternative perception of value?
Rosanne Ahyi – Infinite Overfload
If there is one thing I like more than making collages, it’s teaching students how to make them. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in my fascination for the visual overload they create. Rosanny Ahyi took things one step further, examined the millions of objects available in 3d design libraries the world over and mashed them up into something entirely new. The result felt random, complex, absurd and beautiful at the same time – just the thing Ahyi was aiming for. Her graduation project was definitely one of my favorites.
Hala Tawil – Gradual Unease
“It is important…to be aware that what objects may seem to promise is something we will never actually acquire or experience.” This sentence is not only the conclusion Hala Tawil draws with her work, it is also a stark reminder that I have racked up so many panda points this past year, it’s not even funny anymore (talk about Gradual Unease!). Be that as it may, I have to say I did enjoy her graduation project. It’s colorful and features multiple phallus shapes. At the end of the day, what more do you want?