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One of the projects presented in Milan are Denise Stoopen’s series of films named Smalltalkers. Denise is 50 cm shorter than the average person. What does that mean when you want to play sports, when you get your groceries in the supermarket, or when you have a date? Smalltalkers films are the world as seen by Denise.

How did it start?

“I was trying very hard to be normal, just like anyone else. Until someone asked me: do you recognize people by their faces? I told her that I had developed an eye for shoes and clothes. I can tell a person's name by looking at their shoes or their lower body, and the way they dress. It made me think more about my perspective on the world, and how it could be interesting to share it with other people.”

Self  and / or Unself?

“On a subconscious level my drive to make people's lives easier, more comfortable and more fulfilling comes from my own experience with being a small person. In this sense you could say I am a very 'unselfish' designer. It brings me joy to talk to people and find solutions for their inconveniences in daily life. During my school career I loved designing for the homeless or for the elderly, for example. My graduation work, finally, is about helping myself and people like me. Now that I am no longer avoiding the real me, I can look at other small people with more empathy.”

What kind of designer are you?

“I will probably never design a chair or a lamp that’s just that, a beautiful object first. I admire people like Marcel Wanders, but looking at myself realistically, I know that I am not that kind of a designer. I've always loved research, being able to talk to people and learning about their emotions and their life. Function is important to me; things have to be useful to people. But then again, when things are purely functional, I want to add form. Wheelchairs, for example, are functional but they’re certainly not beautiful. They are neutral. Orthopaedic shoes are the same. They work, but there is no emotion in them. That’s the kind of thing that inspires me. There is so much to do!”

What did you learn while working on your project?

“When I was working on the film and on the bag (Dénice), I interviewed lots of small people. In daily life I’m not used to looking people in the eye, so it was very confronting to me. But it was nice as well, because it takes a lot of honesty and courage to do it. During these projects my personal development took a few leaps. They have made me feel more comfortable with myself.

When I used to look at other small people in the street, they were a lot shorter than me to my mind. I’d see them climbing onto a chair to take a seat, but I never realized I climbed a chair the same way. I guess the image you create of yourself in your mind loses from the mirror that other people hold up to you.”


Published: 27-Mar-2014 14:41
  • 'Smalltalkers' films in Milan

    Denise in front of the camera