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After certain developments at the Design Academy Eindhoven at the end of last year, namely the resignation of three of the heads of their master’s programmes, their graduate show and talks during Salone were bound to attract attention. Taking over Lambretto Art Project (LAP) in the Lambrate district of Milan, the graduates’ Linking Process show shared the space with a number of other galleries. For three mornings of the festival ‘The Milan Breakfasts’, a series of discussions with various designers and academics, were held against the backdrop of the Linking Process exhibition.
On Wednesday morning the discussion fell under the rather ambiguous heading of ‘Creativity, Solutions and Morality’. Chaired by the candid Tracey Metz, who likened her position of organising designers to “herding cats”, the panel discussed various topical issues of the design world. Sitting at this particular panel were designer Jurgen Bey, Director of the New Institute Guus Beumer, and Dean of Domus academy, Alberto Bonsoli.
The conversation highlighted such areas as the need for business acumen within the design world, the social responsibilities of designers and, perhaps most insightfully, the future of design schools. With increasing numbers of design students from China and Japan, as well as a massive flow of design graduates every year, the conversation addressed the need for design schools and the role they should play. All having strong connections to academic institutes, the panel unsurprisingly concluded that design schools are valuable places. However, the design school as a place to meet and discuss and as a method for working certainly has its merits, as does the idea of the design school as a place to shelter students from a market-driven economy for a period of time to allow them to thrive. In these discussions, the Milan Breakfasts were successful in providing a platform for discussion. At such a major event like Salone, reflection such as this is certainly warranted – if not vital.
Linking Process, the DAE graduate show curated by Miriam Van Der Lubbe, displayed not only the end results of the graduates’ designs but the process itself. Van Der Lubbe created an engaging space that highlighted the many, diverse ideas investigated by DAE students. Particularly charming was ‘Splendour Lender’ by Jelle Mastenbroek, which examined the role of status in people’s lives. Using the pronkkasten (a cabinet in which people in The Netherlands used to show off their precious porcelain), Mastenbroek created a veritable pinball machine of porcelain objects, complete with a coin slot. By putting in a euro coin, the user experiences music created by the porcelain and the coin. Afterwards, the coin is returned to the owner.
The prominence of Gijs Bakker within the other exhibitions that shared the space was notable. Following his resignation from the Design Academy of Eindhoven as Head of the Masters programme, his presence indicated a continued, strong relationship with university where he worked for 25 years. On display was his ‘Chi ha Paura…?’ for HAN Gallery – the Taiwanese gallery of which he is Creative Director – and also his son Aldo Bakker’s new collection of furniture. These exhibitions and the talks at LAP resulted in a well-considered space that drew the crowds with diverse ideas, objects and discussions on the future of the design industry.
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