After years of exaggerated self-optimisation and toxic positivity, there’s a growing understanding of the need to embrace all emotions – so that we can bounce back fully from life’s small and large adversities. Contact the designers to collaborate with them!
These are just a few examples of what I loved at DDW. Could you use some feedback on your collections or help to update them? With 17 years of experience in the Home & Interiors and Lifestyle industries, I can give you sound advice on what makes sense for your brand.
#DDW is a great place to discover designers and brands developing or working with fascinating finish effects. In previous years there has been a strong focus on matt finishes worldwide. After the pandemic, there is a renewed interest in tactile experiences and visual excitement. This year, super glossy and gritty surfaces stood out.
5 excellent designers and their dreamy CMF Colour Material Finish projects (clockwise from large image):
Rinke Joosten – Beautifully reflective textured detail of Momentum, a collection of blown glass objects.
Agnieszka Mazur – One of the wonderful finishes from the Memory of the Sea exhibition, a fantastic interplay of raw shells and shiny glue.
Renault x Sabine Marcelis – A masterclass in playing with transparency, gloss and colour in this reinvented Twingo concept car.
Cristina Nan – Poetic computer-generated clay surfaces that have a lower CO2 impact than concrete, steel or glass.
Studio Guilty – I immediately fell in love with these sophisticated gravel sculptures.
What’s your favourite from this selection?
Send an email if you need feedback/support on your brand’s CMF direction. I’m now open to discussing potential collaborations in 2024.
#DDW is always an inspiration for material direction. This year I noticed more projects working with industrial and agricultural waste or simple raw materials. Designers showed that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel to be innovative. This was an interesting change from previous years when there was more of a focus on new bio-composites. I found it fascinating how everyday materials were elevated to something aspirational.
Some of my favs (clockwise from large picture):
Studio RENS x Tarkett revealed the hidden side of linoleum. Such a clever way to update this often underrated material. Did you know that its main ingredients are linseed oil, pine resin, ground cork and sawdust, calcium carbonate and jute?
Rik van Veen‘s sculptural bench made of welded plastic tubes was a real eye-catcher. A great example of how collectables don’t have to be made from precious or scarce materials.
Studio WIES beautifully upcycled discarded vinyl tiles. MATERIAL IDENTITY CRISIS’ was a fitting title. Vinyl is always defined by the texture it is printed on, as Wies van den Maagendberg points out. Lovely work seeing non-recyclable waste as a resource instead of sending it to a landfill.
Collectif MONO has made wool sexy. They used local wool from Swedish farmers. Felted qualities are naturally water-repellent. Unlike materials derived from fossil fuels, microfibres from sheep’s wool do not harm the planet. Fantastic to see more designers rediscovering the positive qualities of #undyed natural fibres. At Milan Design Week 2023 I was already raving about Formafantasma‘s research project for Tacchini on the benefits of working with (merino) wool.
orange or red featured rattan in its purest form. I loved how it added texture and interest to this side table sculpture. Isn’t it beautiful how you can still see the wood texture through the transparent bright green glass? I have been a fan of designer Marieke van Heck ever since I saw her at Rossana Orlandi‘s gallery during Milan Design Week.
So to sum up, there is still a lot of potential to work with tried and tested, mundane materials. Another bonus is that recycling facilities are already in place for many of them.
This is how we should think about the future of colour! Much more than just aesthetics – although aesthetics do have a very valid function as well. Such a wealth of colour innovation coming out of Eindhoven this year. To my delight, there was a high amount and quality of designers developing/working with natural and more sustainable colourants.
Some highlights (clockwise from large picture):
– Textiles, pigments and sunflower waste impregnation. The water-repellent sunflower coating retains the breathability. Designer: Jess Redgrave.
Why is it important?
The use of sunflowers could be a regenerative alternative to cotton. Cotton requires large amounts of water to grow, tends to deplete soils through monocropping, and is often heavily treated with pesticides. In addition, cotton can only be grown in certain parts of the world and often has to be transported over long distances.
– Circular varnish to protect wood made from harmless fungi and linseed oil. The fungi are nourished by the linseed oil and can even repair themselves if damaged. Designers: Frans Van Rooijen and @Michael Sailer
Why is it important?
Wood painted with chemicals often can’t be recycled. The toxic substances often end up in our natural environment. This bio-finish doesn’t harm the planet.
– Pigments derived from algae. You may have seen seaweed being used to dye textiles previously. ‘NORI PIGMENT’ was first shown at Milan Design Week in April this year. I missed it there. Now it was great to see the tile work at Dutch Design Week, which extended the initial research. Designer: Kaori Akiyama of STUDIO BYCOLOR.
Why is it important?
Algae are naturally abundant resources.
– Literally honeyed light to enhance your living space. Designer: Akira Nakagomi
Why is it important?
Using the inherent colour of materials is an important aspect of future-forward colour design. The designer also points out that honey can be used as emergency food because it can be kept at room temperature for a long time. It also has a sterilising effect and is thought to reduce inflammation when applied to wounds. Pretty sweet, eh? (pun intended)
– Using living bacteria as co-designers in block printing. I first saw ‘PRIMORDIAL PIGMENTS’, during Milan Design Week 2023, and when I saw it again, I just had to feature this beautiful project. Designer: Annelise Payne
Why it matters?
Microbial-based colour palettes that work with pigment-producing bacteria instead of conventional dyes certainly need to be explored more.
#dutchdesignweek is always one of the events that give me hope for people and the planet. Here designers are increasingly offering solutions to major global problems such as the waste pandemic, toxic pollution and social inequality. It is one of the most influential springboards for design graduates and new(er) design studios. This makes it a rich source of innovation. But the input can be overwhelming.
What is shown in Eindhoven is diverse. Design in all its forms is covered; from the ultra-conceptual to the commercially scalable, and from the personal to the systemic. For many, it is difficult to find the information and inspiration that is relevant to them. In my design consultancy work, I filter the insights for my clients (drop me a line if you are interested in this service).
It’s worth noting that Dutch Design Week has a reputation for being very concept-driven. However, #DDW23 was also surprisingly inspiring in a very tangible way. Woven through the indicators of emerging/growing macro and micro trends (tendencies in culture, technology, work, lifestyle, etc.) were many wonderful examples of where colour, material, finish and shape are heading. As my focus as a consultant is on interior design and CMF, I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days. I’ll also share more on key themes.
However, my verdict for this year is that several exhibitors tried too hard to load things up intellectually. This does not make the design more valid or accessible. Frankly, I question whether it’s an efficient design proposal if you have to read the full project description to understand what it’s about. Some have even topped this by expecting a high level of design/trend education from the reader.
In the coming year, I’d like to see more contributions to designing fair supply chains, creating local recycling facilities, and mending and repairing. It would also be great to see many more practical, affordable, robust yet sustainable solutions that make life easier for the millions of disadvantaged people around the world. Let’s face it, too much design innovation is focused on privileged audiences. It’s time to change that.
In conclusion, Dutch Design Week continues to be a leading event for learning more about global issues and design direction. I went there to broaden my horizons and the show made that possible. Soaking up fresh ideas, discovering cutting-edge aesthetics and meeting top creatives was a fantastic experience.