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Toegepast 15

Currently on show at  Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, Toegepast 15 honours five promising young designers chosen by Design Platform Limburg. We take a look at the three Dutch participants: Liesbeth Bussche, Jon Stam and Rocco Verdult.

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 14-10-2010

The annual exhibition of Toegepast (literally applied) celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year, and aims to help young designers get a foothold in the industry that is design. Design Platform Limburg, Belgium hand picks the designers and helps them progress through grants and guidance.  

The theme at this year's Toegepast was The Meeting, not only those between people, materials and techniques, objects and space, but more importantly the meeting between five young creatives and their mentors, Belgian fashion designer duo Ti + Hann . The participating designers were Liesbeth Bussche, Jon Stam and Rocco Verdult from the Netherlands and Andries Vanvinckenroye and Mieke Dierckx from Belgium.

Spatial Jewellery

For recent graduate Liebeth Bussche, Toegepast provided the opportunity to bridge the gap between supervised work at an art academy and working independently from a studio. "This exhibition was a solo project, with support from the side lines. It's fascinating to see how other designers work and handle problems." The ex-Gerrit Rietveld Academy student designed three pieces especially for Toegepast: Necklace for an Office, Sugar Necklace and Copper Diamond.

Bussche's work challenges the viewer to re-evaluate their familiar surroundings or objects. Here, the subject in question is jewellery. Office Necklace is made from Fluorescent lighting tubes that have been soldered together to create a chain of loops, "I got a 220 volt shock during construction," recalls Bussche.  Copper Diamond is the result of copper pipes that have been bent and soldered together to form the shape of a diamond, and Sugar Necklace is exactly what the label says: a necklace made from sugar pearls which is suitable for tea sweetening.

Imagining Curiosity

Jon Stam presents two pieces: a graduation project from the Design Academy Eindhoven named Curiosity Cabinet and An Imaginary Museum especially designed or "conceived" for the exhibition. "The two projects share certain common traits, I see An Imaginary Museum as a sort of cabinet in miniature," explains Stam. Starting out as an idea for a library cabinet, An Imaginary Museum is a digitally enhanced View-Master showing images collected by Stam's friends, artists and designers. The experience of viewing the museum is both intimate and collective as a soundtrack to the images plays over a set of speakers but only one person at a time can see what it's all about. The View-Finder has been modified using a micro LCD screen to be able to show still, moving, 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional images, and can easily be updated, modified, or rearranged to show various content.

Earlier work Curiosity Cabinet also brings together the physical and digital space in one archival system. The solid cedar cabinet features 16 drawers that hold material objects and another 16 with embedded memory suitable for storing digital information. When a 'digital' drawer is placed on the shelf, its content can be viewed, a concept much like the curiosity cabinets popular throughout the Renaissance. Both projects use RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to trigger the digital content by automatically identifying people or objects, leaving the visitor free to observe.

Spontaneous Happenings

The third Dutch designer presenting work at Toegepast is Studio Rocco Verdult. Verdult's work has a community focus – particularly in the creation of spontaneous gatherings of people - take the Box Run for instance where a group of passers-by was asked to simulate the Tour-de-France by running through the streets of Eindhoven in a box. At the exhibition Verdult's work is presented as a set of video installations, where visitors are encouraged to don a pair of headphones and watch the outcome of the designer’s schemes.

Another project called Afrikaandermarkt comprises a football match played out in a multicultural part of Rotterdam where the teams wore striped vests inspired by the kind of plastic bags found at any local market. "One of the boys was given a megaphone and a set of clear instructions to walk through the market calling for other kids to join in the match. Of course, he started shouting all sorts of things after five minutes but that's all part of the charm this kind of project brings," says Verdult.

Toegepast 15 will be on show at Z33 until 12 December, 2010.

Photography: Kristof Vrancken

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