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Dear Graduates.

Two years ago we spoke about the unselfish attitude of a new generation.

The self-initiated projects that you present at the end of your education are often very unselfish.  Design is geared towards the outside world. Many projects are open source, address social issues, are made in collaborations. We design for real issues. We address issues of race, gender, politics, immigration and ecology.

This unselfish attitude sometimes becomes a burden. We take on too great a responsibility. And it leads to criticism. Our projects are sometimes discarded as being dysfunctional or even dangerous.

That is why it is important to also talk about nonsense. Yes we make nonsense, but nonsense is not a dirty word. There is no rational path to innovation. We need more craziness. Or to put it in a less provocative way: we don't come up with solutions, but we create alternatives. Alternatives that are fueled by art, literature, poetry and film.

So our inclination is unselfish, our method is nonsense… but what do we make? We make things, but what is a thing?  That is the question posed by Marlies Kolodziey who presents a stick, a frame, a simple strip of leather and two difficult to define objects.

We make things, we make questions and often we make nothing.

To say that seems strange in a school where the workshops are so important. At the Design Academy you learnt to work with matter, with wood, with metal, with fabric, with plastic, with clay. Here you learnt to work with your hands. To form matter into things. To see something grow under your hands. To experience what it is to make an object. To materialize something that gets a quality beyond your intentions, that gets formed partly against your intentions. Like Pinocchio, matter can take on a life of its own.

The workshops are vital in our education. And we see the result of that training today in your projects. Beautifully crafted cupboards, cups, textiles, tables and bikes. We have an abundance of things. Or should I say: we still have an abundance of things. Because more and more our world is de-materializing. Next to the real world there is a virtual world where we live more and more. Design is bridging the real and the virtual world. That is an important area that design is evolving into. There is a fascinating project by Sara Sturges Yebernetsky and Daniela Treja who started a magazine “Not Another” where each issue is devoted to recurring images sourced through social media.  She shows, for example, the virtual life of a pineapple and a palm plant and brings it back to real print.

The virtual and the real also meet in a bust by Jonathan Roditi who portrayed Koen Kleyn so life-like that again the story of Pinocchio jumps to mind.

The material is present in Adrianus Kundert van Nieuwkoop’s carpets that are rejuvenated while aging.  Jasper Rombouts researches the qualities of lava – made in an artificial volcano from basalt. Basalt is a readily available 35 km thick crust that covers the earth - an endless resource that even upcycles if you recycle it.  And then there is a material experiment by Job van den Berg who combines a thin sheet of metal with wood veneer, giving strength and a new beauty in his final product - Metal Wood cabinet.

The virtual world is addressed in a project by Lucas Teixeira that physically speaking is almost nothing: a little piece of plastic that you wear behind your ear. This is a forecast of technology that enhances our perception and a type of speculative design that we see in more projects.

I have a special mention for the whole presentation of Man and Identity. Color is a complex and intangible topic to talk about, but Sam, Vera and Anouk addressed color in an intense and effective way. I hope we will be able to address this theme in more depth next year.

So you made things and nothings. And I think we are all very happy with the results. Results for which we should thank the workshop instructors, the department heads, the teachers and staff and of course your parents who often have a hand in realizing what we saw today.

I look forward to seeing what you will do with all your talents after the academy.

Congratulations with your diploma, good luck, and keep in touch!

Thomas Widdershoven

Published: 06-Jun-2015 12:36
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