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It’s all in the air

With this year’s title It’s all in the air, Toegepast, the annual launchpad for recently graduated designers, celebrates its 18th birthday with an exhibition of work at Z33 Gallery in Belgium.

By Katie Dominy / 21-11-2013

Toegepast is organised by Cultuurplatform Design and is an opportunity open to all recent graduates from the greater Limburg region, including therefore alumni of Design Academy Eindhoven and Maastricht Academy of Fine Art and Design (ABK Maastricht). 

The designers are mentored through 2013 to develop their career forward and the resulting work is then shown at Z33 Gallery in Hasselt, Belgium. This year the six recipients of the award are Mattijs Brands, Henry Baumann, Mats Horbach, Isabel Tesfazghi, Pieter-Jan Pieters and Giacomo Piovan. spoke with Cultuurplatform Design and some of the designers on show. Cultuurplatform Design told us why they chose ABK Maastricht alumni Henry Baumann: “The jury was charmed by the Henry’s graduation project in which he gave new life to 130 strawberry boxes which were considered to be waste products. Henry’s work reflects upon our patterns of consumption and the way we deal with waste.”

We asked Henry Baumann about his updated project  - a giant lampshade and a ‘sitting object’, a combination of lamp, bed and lounge chair reworked from the giant spools used to transport electricity cables. “My aim in Toegepast was to stay true to the theme of my most recent work, by re-purposing ready-made materials but leaving no waste behind. During my continued experimentation with fruit crates and other modular systems, I came across the cable drum. While this cable drum was far too heavy for one person to handle on his own, I soon realized that the simple adjustment of making just one cut allowed me to effectively approach the cable drum and, at the same time, remain faithful to my vision of using all the material in my final product. The name of my work in the exhibition should perhaps be One Cut as this realization is what transformed my work from where it was to where it is. Just glue was added and also, the sawdust was reused in the object.”

Originally from Italy, Giacomo Piovan is a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven and Cultuurplatform Design told us they chose Piovan ‘for his 

Farming Pollution project in which he collaborated with university scientists who do research on plants and bacteria for cleaning up soil pollution. This project is an interesting example for social designers on how to create partnerships for projects with a human focus.’

 We asked Piovan how Toegepast had advanced his work. “For Toegepast I am presenting a short film which is somewhere between a documentary and science fiction. I based my project in the region where, like in many other places in Europe, the industry left behind polluted areas. For the documentary part I have interviewed the former generations of Italian workers about the landscape in which they work and the influence it has on their lives.  Within the more future-focused element, I propose positive ideas about how current scientific developments can be used to turn this post-industrial landscape into new areas for the generation of new sustainable economies.”

Mats Horbach is also a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven and for the 

Cultuurplatform Design jury: ‘‘Mats is a real design poet. The works he presented in his portfolio are a triptych of graphic works combined with short stories and the actual objects. He’s able to create something beautiful and intimate but which strikes you with its essence” Fast forward to now and Horbach tells us of his new work: “My project that I'm showing is an ode to the ‘nothing’. It started with my fascination that when you turn on the television clear images pop up, when you turn on the radio you hear clear sound, when I email to the other side of the planet the message is received in a millisecond. This is something special. All these things are connected on invisible networks of waves and signals. All these signals make sure that everything we want to do is possible. As a blanket this ‘nothing’ cares for us and makes sure we are not alone. I wanted to thank ‘nothing’ for everything. 

“I made three ‘nothing’ machines based on the crystal radio principle. Their antennae catch a signal, the ‘nothing’ and with this signal they create their own power to produce sound. These machines make something out of nothing showing us the magic that is all around us.”

For all the designers we spoke with the experience has been extremely positive. Last words to Giacomo Piovan: “For now, the best thing is for sure the relationship with the other young participants who are now collaborating with me on new projects. I met Mattijs Brands who graduated with a similar project related to sustainability. We are already working on a project together: next year we are going to propose a participatory project for the re-qualification of an old factory in the surrounding area of Hasselt. We hope by then, to undertake multidisciplinary research to enable us to foster collaborative relationships with scientific partners. We hope to transform the dream into reality.”

Toegepast 18 runs until January 19 2014 at Z33 Gallery, Hasselt, Belgium


1 - It’s all in the air

2 – Henry Baumann

3 – Farming Pollution, Giacomo Piovan

4 – Ode to Nothing, Mats Horbach

5 – The Social Project, Pieter-Jan Pieters

6 - Mattijs Brands

7 – Cosmic Stewardess, Isabel Tesfazghi

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