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A Touch of Dutch in Slovenia

In the Slovanian capital Ljubljana now runs the 23rd edition of the biennial of design BIO. The main exhibition Design Relations was curated by the duo Margriet Vollenberg en Margot Konings of Organisation in Design (OID).

By Jeroen Junte / 01-10-2012

For BIO 23, Margriet Vollenberg en Margot Konings curated the exhibition Relations in Design (designed by Joost van Bleiswijk), that investigates the new perspectives on design.

“Designers have to engage in new relationships. They have to work with professionals of others disciplines such as, scientists, artists, researchers and psychologists. Furthermore designers relate to environmental, social and even political issues that ask for a new and multidisciplinary attitude. With this exhibition we want to investigate and show these new relationships in design”, explains Vollenberg.

The exhibition is staged in the Museum of Design and Architecture in a castle on the outskirts of Ljubljana. Vollenberg and Konings have chosen for three themes: digitalization, globalization and technology. “All major developments in design are influenced and in some instances even decided by these issues”, says Konings. With a tour through the exhibition the duo shows how. “Designers more than ever are faced with global problems like the pollution of the seas or the monetary crisis. Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop has his leather vases handmade by Indian teenagers as work training for them to become artisans.” A good example of how designers experiment with new techniques is the young Dutchman Jolàn van der Wiel. “He made a magnetic machine that pulls a fluid silicone from a mould. After a while the material is hardened into a solid stool.”

The public may know Margriet Vollenberg en Margot Konings and their company Organisation in Design (OID) as the driving force behind Ventura Lambrata. In just three years time this new kid on the block at the Salone del Mobile has made its name as the place to look for innovative design solutions and fresh talent in the overload of the Milan fair. Furthermore OID will make its debut with the Ventura-concept outside Milan at the Biennale Interieur in the Belgian city of Kortijk.

The extensive network in the design world that stems from these activities was one of the reasons to pick the two owners of Organisation in Design as curators, explains Matevz Celik, director of Bio 23. “We wanted to attract the attention of international designers, especially the new generation. And they succeeded. With more than 500 submissions from 27 countries the biennial is bigger than ever.” But more important was their “open minded attitude towards new aspects of design and their expertise  in innovative use of materials and techniques”. Celik: “This 23rd edition of BIO has a different setup from previous editions, that focused solely on industrial design. But in the 21st century, design is confronted with new forms of production that fall outside the traditional industrial context. We had a strong belief that Konings and Vollenberg can shows these new aspects design without forgetting the practical and functional design. And so they did!”

The opening night of the BIO 23 was also the stage for the presentation of Bio Design Awards. Among the winners were Dutch designers Jolàn van der Wiel with Gravity Stool (Best Student Work); Tuur van Balen received the special Jury Award for his project Hacking Yogurt. Honourable mentions were given to the Dutch Rick Tegelaar with MeshMatics Lamp, Sabrina Koning-Woud with Biesbosch Buoyes, Pepe Heykoop with Skin Vases and Jo Meesters with Particle Collection. The Gold Medal was won by British designer Kieren Jones. The international jury of the Bio Design Awards consisted of entrepreneur Giulio Cappellini, designwriter Sophie Lovell (UK), and Tent Festival Londen-organizer Jimmy MacDonald (UK), Austrian designer Sven Jonke and Serbian architect Vasa Perovic.

BIO 23 hosts a programme of over thirty exhibitions, seminars, readings and other events running from 27 September to 11 November 2012. The main exhibition Design Relations is open to the public until 11 November at the Museum of Design and Architecture at Fuzine Castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia. For more information check: and

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