Dutch Design Week 2020 :: 7 Design Innovation Highlights

Dutch Design Week 2020 :: 7 Design Innovation Highlights

Dutch Design Week 2020 :: 7 Design Innovation Highlights

440 440 Velvet

During Dutch Design Week 2020, all virtual by the way, I stumbled upon several design innovations that struck a very sensitive chord in me. They are the kind that awaken all sorts of feelings, but mostly of hope of a better future, despite the blanket of melancholy that has cast its shadow upon us. Hence, I will be sharing them with you today, for they showcase in exemplary ways how design may affect different aspects of our living. And I’m not talking only about interior living, but our living experience as a whole..

Two weeks ago I posted about 5 sustainable product highlights as a first part of the Dutch Design Week 2020 review. Again, sustainability remains a pillar design trend, but the social impact of design is far more enticing in this post. So let’s look at these innovations, starting with my favorite.

7 Design Innovations on the Spotlight from the DDW20

Aiki – objects designed to provide autonomy to children during medical treatment. As a mother of two, this is something that made my heart throb hard. Medical encounters are hard and quite stressful, even under the best circumstances. Thus, Dutch designer Josephine de Fijter conceptualized a sensory object in collaboration with the Charlie Braveheart Foundation and Studio Bibi van der Veldenthat. This object – a cuddle tool – imitates breathing and “aims to prevent the child from enduring a traumatizing experience during medical care.” Moreover, it gives visual cues to the doctor (by changing colors) of the height of fear the child is experiencing. Now, that is unmistakably a design innovation with a positive impact on a child’s wellbeing.

A sensory object to relieve stress in children undergoing medical treatment is one of the most notable design innovations presented in DDW2020. Via: Aiki © Studio Uncoated, Graphic design Ieva Valule.
Aiki © Studio Uncoated, Graphic design Ieva Valule.
A sensory object to relieve stress in children undergoing medical treatment is one of the most notable design innovations presented in DDW2020. Via: Aiki © Studio Uncoated, Graphic design Ieva Valule.
Aiki © Studio Uncoated, Graphic design Ieva Valule.

No species is an island. If you’re on board with this motto, then you are going to love Project Habitate, a beautiful and awe inspiring design innovation on symbiosis. Project Habitate takes the potential connection of humans to nature to a whole new level. It is about “a material that mimics the biostructure of the endangered ash tree’s bark to support the continued growth of associated organisms.” Think of species of mosses, lichen and fungi that are habitat-less and at risk of endangerment due to ash dieback, a disease that eradicates some 95 percent of the ash tree population in Europe. However, you can actively change all that with this wearable new material – that acts like a temporary home and supports the airborne reproduction of those species.

A wearable material that can host species like moss and fungi - one of the most notable design innovations from the DDW2020. Via: © Project HABITATE.
© Project HABITATE
A wearable material that mimics the bark of an ash tree and can host species like moss and fungi - one of the most notable design innovations from the DDW2020. Via: © Project HABITATE.
© Project HABITATE
The science behind a wearable material that mimics the bark of an ash tree and can host species like moss and fungi - one of the most notable design innovations from the DDW2020. Via: © Project HABITATE.
© Project HABITATE

Insectology: Food for Buzz is a series of self-sustained artificial flowers that can serve “as an emergency food source for city dwelling insects.” Atelier Boelhouwer, fascinated by the connections between flowers and insects, developed a flower project that aims to help insect populations (like bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths) flourish again in our urban jungles of concrete.

Design innovations from DDW 2020. Artificial flowers as emergency food stops that promote the insect population in urban areas. Insectology: Food for Buzz - Bee Flower. Photo credit: Janneke van der Pol.
Insectology Food for Buzz – Bee Flower. Photo credit: Janneke van der Pol.
Design innovations from DDW 2020. Artificial flowers as emergency food stops that promote the insect population in urban areas. Insectology: Food for Buzz - Moth/Butterfly Flower. Photo credit: Janneke van der Pol.
Insectology: Food for Buzz – Moth/Butterfly Flower. Photo credit: Janneke van der Pol.

Next imagine, a composite material that can host life. Specifically, Viral Nature, by Martina Taranto, is an 84% organic composite material embedded with plant seeds, that may be cast into complex structures that can later turn to living botanical sculptures. However, these outdoor pieces will not create waste as they perish and crumble over time. Instead, they “decay and, like every natural creation, peacefully return to the land.”

Another design innovation from the DDW2020 from Martina Taranto - Viral Nature. A composite material that blooms and decays without leaving waste behind - ideal for outdoor sculptures
Viral Nature by Martina Taranto. Vases and bench before blooming.
Another design innovation from the DDW2020 from Martina Taranto - Viral Nature. A composite material that blooms and decays without leaving waste behind - ideal for outdoor sculptures
Viral Nature by Martina Taranto. The Echoes Series in Hyde Park.
Another design innovation from the DDW2020 from Martina Taranto - Viral Nature. A composite material that blooms and decays without leaving waste behind - ideal for outdoor sculptures.
Viral Nature by Martina Taranto. Bloomed sculptures, gradually crumbling.

The Debris Stool by Ruben Scheuermann is made of debris from former buildings and or furniture. So this beautiful seat acts as reminiscence. All the while, the use of such an unconventional material, like debris, goes to show that there are aesthetically pleasing and innovative ways to use materials as such.

When debris turns into a furniture piece - a design innovation from the DDW2020. Debris stool by Ruber Scheuermann. Photo credit: Bo Libochant and Lieke van den Eijnden.
Debris stool by Ruber Scheuermann. Photo credit: Bo Libochant and Lieke van den Eijnden.
When debris turns into a furniture piece - a design innovation (detail) from the DDW2020. Debris stool by Ruber Scheuermann. Photo credit: Bo Libochant and Lieke van den Eijnden.
Debris stool by Ruber Scheuermann. Photo credit: Bo Libochant and Lieke van den Eijnden.

And on this note, have a look at Akustak, a flexible, modular acoustic partitioning system with an eco ethos. Akustak with its biophyllic aesthetic is designed to address issues of privacy and focus in open-plan office environments, shielding workers from external stress factors. Hence, the wellbeing of the employees can improve significantly.

Akustak - modular acoustic partitioning system from sustainable materials. One of the design innovations from DDW2020. Design: @bock_studio | Render: @designedbybret.
Akustak. Design: @bock_studio | Render: @designedbybret
Akustak - modular acoustic partitioning system from sustainable materials. One of the design innovations from DDW2020. Design: @bock_studio.
Akustak. Modular range detail.

Lastly, I was fascinated by the Illusory Material “a design philosophy, computational workflow that enables the designer to create material with dynamic color & texture in a controlled way.” In other words, the designer can restructure and re-invent the properties and attributes of ‘matter’ to create unique expressive experiences. It actually puts a designer in control of things that were once only possible in a digital world. So imagine the endless possibilities and applications of that!

Illusory Material as seen at DDW2020. Computational geometry covered by lenticular lens. Photo credits: Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng.
Illusory Material. Computational geometry covered by lenticular lens. Photo credits: Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng.
Illusory Material as seen at DDW2020. The Interactive lollipop. Photo credits: Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng.
Illusory Material. The Interactive lollipop. Photo credits: Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng.

Afterthoughts

A prototype knitted accessory made from linen meant for bouldering by Anna Wetzel. The How&Wow Linen project at DDW2020.
Anna Wetzel / HOW&WOW Linen. Fotografie: Sjoerd Knibbeler.

Needless to say, that there are many more design innovations that are exciting. Take for instance, Anna Wetzel’s How&WowLinen project that “made knitted prototype garments and accessories for outside bouldering.”

In every case, each of the design innovations presented above has its own weight and merit. Some are eco pioneering projects, or sustainable products, while others help redesign society. Yet, I find them equally fascinating for they signal the changes that will come about with regards to our living experience.

Hopefully, design innovations of this kind will help us re-connect and build more meaningful relationships, especially with mother nature as we will ultimately assume the role of the guardians of life. Because design, science and technology combined with good will can save our planet.

Cheers, xo

Velvet signature
close
Velvet in a khaki linen shirt in front of an art gallery wall.
Having a design dilemma? No worries. I GOT YOU!

SIGN UP FOR MORE FREE ADVICE, DESIGN AND STYLE. BONUS: OUR LIMITED TIME OFFER of a 30′ FREE ONLINE INTERIOR CONSULTATION, because YOU ARE AWESOME!

1 comment
Leave a Reply