Design/Play

Plastic Fantastic

At Dutch Design Week 2016 a lot of the displayed material experiments are visionary statements. Some seem to have no practical use at all, but they still do matter. I spotted some synthetic studies that will make our world more sensitive and tactile. Welcome to Plastic Fantastic.

Bart Hess is the master of materials related to body and skin. With latex and other plastics he creates dynamic alien-like silhouettes that are often digitally adapted into futuristic photos and transcending videos.

He recently returned to Eindhoven after some period in London. At DDW16 he presented the Royal Latex Bed, upstairs in his studio. At first the sheets and curtains of this bed feel and smell awkward, but when you lay down the rubber becomes pretty comfortable. Sweet dreams are guaranteed.
Also intriguing: his ‘dip-dye’ body experiments with candle grease, as performed at the Architecture Triennial in Lisbon and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. A female model is dipped in a basin and then lifted upwards. The coating of candle grease swiftly solidifies into a white skin. Extremely fascinating to see how in the end the model breaks out of this second skin, scraping the pieces of her body. What looks like a non-functional material, can be very appealing, especially in a technological context.img_3635

Hess graduated years ago at the Design Academy Eindhoven and can be seen as the forerunner of a new generation techno-sensual designers. The current graduation show in Eindhoven proves that a lot of students are interested in tactile material experiments. For example the foam fences of Anton Hendrik Denys are a visual contradiction. The soft structures can barely stand up on their own, but the screens help define an interior without blocking or diminishing the sense of space.

Fellow graduates Fabian Briels and Audrey Werthle are crafting with silicone. The last one created a sturdy material with a 3D relief by paring her design down to vertical lines and combining silicone with screen-printing. Fabian Briels re-thinks the way clothes are made and is questioning the process. With ‘Digital Anatomy’ he created a new garment using lasers as needles and silicone as thread. A pattern is engraved in an acrylic sheet and silicone is injected into the grooves. Once set, the flat mesh can be lifted from the plate and draped into a top. Magical effect, zero waste!

Very funny are the oversized garments by Love Ohlin, including hands and feet. The design is just made by tape and scissors and seems to refer to the world of comics, internet and theatre.

Striking is the work of Envisions, a collective founded by alumni of the Design Academy: Sanne Schuurman, Iwan Pol and Simone Post. Although working for known clients they also like to share their ideas together en reveal the steps of their research process without the fear of copycats. As Sanne Schuurman summarized: “I challenge the known application of materials, crafts and techniques to find innovative solutions and create new ways of using our everyday surrounding.”
Envisions showed stylish material experiments with a futuristic approach at DDW-location VDMA, including work made by rookies as Wesley De Boer and Robin Pleun Maas.

And as a flashy showstopper they installed the work ‘RGB Funfair’at the exhibition ‘Broken White’ in the Van Abbemuseum. Indeed, this lollipop playground tastes very sweet, but it is also an un-material prophecy of future colors and materials!

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RGB Funfair at Broken White (Van Abbemuseum), Dutch Design Week ©TommyKöhlbrugge

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