The Real Deal

moderator: Saskia van Stein
speakers: Koert van Mensvoort, Jan Boelen, Maya Ben David, Ravi Naidoo

Words like authentic, sustainable and green have become the lingo of choice to many designers, architects and companies, in their attempt to address and convince of a responsible attitude towards society at large. But these words run the risk of becoming hollow phrases in a fake narrative of commercial opportunism and window-dressing.

As the design discipline transitions into a phase in which the focal point is shifting from a useful object, to contributing to the major concerns of our time, by incorporating civic processes and our real environmental challenges into the design, the place of values such as authenticity have lost their self-evidence. With the urgency for design output to have sustainable, responsible and integral production at its core, it is crucial to re-anchor ethical and meaningful parameters within this new context, ultimately aiming to create values beyond the economical.

Which skills, tools, technologies and strategies are fruitful in designing for our contemporary needs in a meaningful manner? During this Milan Breakfast we will elaborate on the potential, the paradoxes and the desires implicit and implied by these notions. We will aim to reassess terms such as authenticity but also functionality and involvement, keeping the realistic possibilities and potential of the practice in perspective.

During this Milan Breakfast Jan Boelen, design critic, -curator and head of Master research program Social Design, Design Academy Eindhoven will frame the current developments in their historical perspective. Koert van Mensvoort, media artist/researcher and director of Next Nature Network will share his ideas on the impact of merging technologies, such as nanotechnology, on our every day life. The work of young designer Maya Ben David investigates notions such as memory, identity, social and cultural changes. Other (design) professionals such as Ravi Naidoo (Design Indaba organisator) will be present, join us, listen and/or contribute!

* On the website Ravi Naidoo states "South Africa has gold and diamonds. Yet we didn't have one leading jewelry designer," Naidoo said. "The custodians of our mining industry have been delinquent by not taking us beyond the commodity—the difference between the price of an ingot and a gold chain is 15 times". His perspective on the local conditions (raw material/skills/labor) and how they (can be) combined and contribute to a broader network, the global stage, would be very valuable to our conversation. The Design Indaba conference has proven that, with sharing and dialogue has a vehicle, with creativity at its core, we can fuel the conditions towards a more unified world.

Maya Ben David

Jan Boelen (Photo by Kristof Vrancken)

Ravi Naidoo

Koert van Mensvoort (Photo by Jeroen Broekmans)

Saskia van Stein