Self Unself in Suzhou

Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum

September 13th 2014 - December 12th 2014
NO.1 Guanfeng St., Suzhou Industrial Park, P.R.China


Being in the world
Jan Konings, curator of Self Unself: ’Design is not about shiny objects and consumerism anymore. It’s not about icons, it’s about issues. Self Unself presents a kind of inventory of positions and solutions born from this new attitude towards design.’ !

Co-design on all levels
Self Unself was originally conceived as a graduation show but was soon expanded to include the work of both graduates and alumni of the Design Academy Eindhoven. The ‘self’ in the exhibition title still first and foremost refers to the student, says Widdershoven. ‘The academy 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’.’!

A fitting example is PhoneBloks by Dave Hakkens. It’s a flexible cellular phone, which can be produced and assembled modularly. A network of cottage industries produces the universally compatible parts thus breaking the monopoly of market leaders. Every component can be replaced individually, thus making it a much more durable product. ‘Hakkens starts off with the consumers, he remains really close to their actual needs’, says Konings. ‘And he also actively involves them in the realization of the phone. Through his website he has gathered the support of almost a million potential users and he will multiply that number by a thousand through the new social media site Thunderclap. This is co-design on all levels.’

Whereas with Hakkens the ‘unself’ is the audience at large, an organic but anonymous mass which has come within easy, empowering reach through the present means of communication, traditionally the ‘unself’ the designer foremost has to deal with is the client, a well-defined entity with clear wishes and demands. Hella Jongerius, widely known for her research into textiles and colors, was confronted with the strictest of regulations when working on KLM’s World Business Class. Konings: ‘Jongerius managed to keep her experiments intact and apply them outside her studio. This is quite extraordinary since the airline industry is rather conservative by nature and bound by ever tightening inter- national legal regulations. This type of commissions – full of inherent friction – often leads to non-descript, middle of the road design but it constitutes for a sizeable part of our public space. It makes you wonder how open and free this space is and to what extend designers can still influence it.’

  • Cover_Book
  • Bert Jan Pot - Masks (2010 - ongoing)
  • Daan Roosegaarde - Smart Highways (2012)
  • Dave Hakkens - PhoneBloks (2013)
  • Jan Pieter Kaptein - The Second Self Laboratory (2013)
  • Vincent Tarisien and Bora Hong
  • Bora Hong - cosmetic surgery kingdom (2013)
  • Monica Alisse - Mapping Malala
  • Ro Smit - Wolwaeren (2011)
  • Formafantasma - Moulding Tradition (2009)
  • Thonik - Eternally Yours (1997)

in China

‘Self Unself’ lands in Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum


Self / Unself - Dutch Contemporary Design Exhibition will be held in Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum at 4:00 p.m., September 13rd (Saturday), 2014. The exhibition is organized by Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Design Academy Eindhoven and Macao Design Center, and is curated by Feng Boyi, Liu Gang, James Zhu and Thomas Widdershoven.


The First Exhibition / Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum
September 13th 2014 - December 12th 2014
NO.1 Guanfeng St., Suzhou Industrial Park, P.R.China

Tour Exhibition / Macau Design Centre
January 14th 2015 - March 15th 2015
Travessa da Fabrica NO.5, Macau

Participating designers

Alicia Ongay Perez
Atelier NL
Bart Eysink Smeets
Bertjan Pot
Bora Hong
Christiaan Hendriks
Christien Meindertsma, Wandschappen, Loes Veenstra
Cody Wilson
Daan Roosegaarde
Dave Hakkens
Erik Kessels, Ria van Dijk
Hansje van Halem
Hella Jongerius
Jan Pieter Kaptein
John Körmeling
Klaske Oenema
Lucas Maassen & Sons
Maarten Baas
Marije Vogelzang
Roland Pieter Smit
Studio Formafantasma
Studio Maarten Kolk Guus Kusters
Studio Makkink & Bey
Thomas Gottelier
Vincent de Rijk
Yeb Wiersma