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Talent 2009 Part II

Design's new route hovers at a complicated intersection with no real answer as to what's going to work best for all.  But yet again, it's Europe's top graduates who are contributing most to the discussion by producing work that helps to redefine priorities.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 11-11-2009

In part II of our coverage of the “Talent 2009” show at Designhuis in Eindhoven, we explore the best of rest with a focus on materials and ideas. 

Curator Li Edelkoort seems fascinated by paper and its potential.  So much so that she has dedicated an entire section of this show to objects made from it.  

The strongest showing was from Debbie Wijskamp from Artez Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Arnhem whose “Paperpulp” project is made from treated and recycled paper as well as glue. Her handling of the material lends it a structure and appearance that belies its flimsy reality.

Wijskamp says that she is inspired by how people in different cultures make their homes using materials found in their surroundings.  "in Africa, for example, people in villages make their own homes using straw and hay and other sorts of natural materials," she says.  "I also wanted to make my own building material from my immediate surroundings so I started experimenting with the re-usage of wastepaper."

The paper pulp cabinets are constructed from various oblong boards stacked upon one another. Some parts have drawers, while others are left open to function as shelves. The inch-thick box component has been moulded from paper pulp and assembled using simple box-jointing techniques borrowed from woodwork.  It is all stuck together using paper pulp.  As part of the series there are also a range of decorative table objects.

Merijn van Essen and Sander van Loon from the Willem de Kooning Academy presented on of the most thought-provoking projects that referenced both the past and the future.  Their temporal city is based on a unique approach to mapping areas of Rotterdam. “We mapped out areas that are being built up, areas that are being demolished, as well as the british Archigram vision for new cities,” Van Essen says.  

Their city is made up of various sized blocks and three sides of each block have a different vision or basis for a new city. One side tells the story of all the demolished buildings and the outcry of the removed inhabitants, the other reveals the plans of the governemtn and powerful building corporations and the third is based on the Archigram city model.   “In that way, viewers can look at the map as a sort of infographic and decide how the city can or should be built using their own values,” says Van Loon.   

This project was very much inspired by the British avant-garde architectural group Archigram. In the 60s, this group became known for their neo-futuristic views on urbanism that focused more on the idea and vision than the actual execution of the buildings.  

Ilse Landwehr Johann from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten showed “Table Trees”, a collection of six tables made fmor branches and wax that each visualizes a little piece of nature’s beauty. Unlike a lot of Edelkoort-selected design today these pieces are not camera friendly -  they resonate an exquisite beauty and an almost mystical aura that can only be appreciated in person.

The pieces are entirely natural and let the wax, resin and debarked branches speak for themselves. “Every table has its own identity yet there is a constant that connects them and makes them a part of the whole collection,” says Landwehr Johann.

And lastly, Maciek Wojcicki from the Royal College of Art in London presented “L.O.F.T Workstation”, an adjustable platform designed so it can be customized according to the available space and required usage.  It consists of work surfaces, lighting, shelving, screens, and boards.  The main pillar is the only fixed element.

“The whole idea is to revolutionize furniture as we know it,” says Wojcicki. “Traditional furniture has one function that is always the same.  A desk is a desk and it stays in one place and plays one role.  You use it, store things on it and it gets crowded.”

The L.O.F.T Workstation is more like an adjustable frame or a toolbox.  “You use it according to how you need it,” says Wojcicki.  “If you need a shelf you use an available leg.”

Wojcicki’s teachers at the Royal Academy liked his idea because it emerged from previous projects that were based on the theme of  a nucleus.   “My work there was very much about the living environment,” he says, “and I designed it especially for people who needed flexibility.”

“Talent 2009” runs until the 30th November.

Images large and top small - Debbie Wijskamp’s “Paperpulp”
Merijn van Essen and Sander van Loon’s “Temporal City”
Ilse Landwehr Johann’s “Table Trees”
Maciek Wojcicki’s “L.O.F.T Workstation”

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