Up Close Wide Open: ‘zooming in and zooming out’ will be the central theme during the 2012 edition of Design Academy Eindhoven’s renowned Graduation Show. Curators Catelijne van Middelkoop and Ryan Pescatore Frisk are allowing visitors an opportunity to get up close and almost personal with the designers. Through a series of debates, critical and in-depth articles, documentaries and special tours – concentrated on specific subjects – you will be able to see Design Academy Eindhoven from up close. Very close. In short, the academy’s doors will be flung wide open to all.

The lectures start at 14h (app. 90 minutes) and will be followed by a design tour focussing on the content of the lecture.

The Programme

The Opening Weekend

text by Danielle Arets

During the opening weekend (opening: Saturday 20 October) visitors can learn about the history of Design Academy Eindhoven. The process of transformation which is currently underway at the school will also be expounded via a debate on design education. On Sunday 21 October we will be exploring the subject of social design. What is the significance of designers’ increasing involvement in the design of social processes; what, for instance, can they contribute to health care? But also: how do we address the question whether it is possible in our times to be anti-social? As an example Noortje de Keijzer has created a knitted boyfriend [see image, photographer: Noortje de Keijzer] as a safe and informal friend who does not require talking to. 

Jan Boelen, Head of the Master’s course in Social Design, will be giving a lecture this Sunday on the usefulness of social design, and he and a number of design researchers from the Strategic Creativity research unit will be setting up a special ‘care’ design itinerary past the various graduation projects.

Measurably Better

The following day, Tuesday 23 October, will focus on data visualisation. The special design itinerary The Quantified Self will reveal how designers are zooming in ever more closely on the user and creating designs with which people can take a close look at themselves and come to a self-analysis. As an example, in his Life-Patterns-objects [see image, photographer: Lisa Klappe] Bram Amendt has explored how personal sounds (e.g. a person’s own child) or ambient sounds can be transformed into  shapes. It has resulted in a surprising interplay between the aural and the tactile world.

By contrast, in his project Measuring more to feel less, Michael Boulay is wondering if all this measuring always leads to the desired effect. Measuring equipment for sufferers of diabetes, for instance, can bring on substantial additional stress, which in turn adversely affects blood sugar levels. He believes that more intuitively oriented measuring equipment may offer a solution.


Many designers may be visuospatial thinkers, but a growing number of graduates is becoming involved in the ways in which design is discussed in talks, blogs and tweets. On Thursday 25 October we will therefore be tackling design writing and blogging. As an example, in het project Anonimus et Libertas Eva Storck [see image, photographer: Rene van der Hulst] points out the anonymity of blogging, which she believes is  debasing public debate. The extreme views and personal points of view expressed anonymously through blogs rarely lead to clarifying new insights.

Roy Verbakel is also asking a few critical questions about new media, but in his case he focuses on the lack of physical tools. He has developed a special ‘brain pen’ with which he is drawing attention to ‘the thinking hand’; the idea that a thought process develops alongside the physical act of writing.

During the afternoon, the platform Design Debates (an initiative taken by Design Academy Eindhoven with MU, Onomatopee, Premsela, Capital D, Stichting Alice, and Krabbedans) will be organising a debate at the Designhuis, centred on the question How much design can we digest?


With the programme as described above, Design Academy Eindhoven is focusing on a critical line of approach during Dutch Design Week. A healthy attitude that has remained unchanged over the past 65 years and that may well be the very thing that represents the school’s unique excellence and strength. The academy’s graduates invariably acknowledge the fact that the school has helped them master a specific attitude to their work, or better still, to life. One that is socially involved, and characterised by an ongoing search for ways to shape our day-to-day lives and to play a significant role in this process by coming up with inspiring, challenging or critical designs. Or, as the subtitle of this year’s catalogue phrases it so aptly:

137 individual perspectives, engaging aspects of contemporary life with the intent to transform our shared future.

Design As Second Nature

On Monday 22 October the subject ‘second nature’ will be tackled, especially the relationships between designers and biologists, physicists or chemists, and the consequences human intervention can have for nature. Laura van Os, for instance, has developed an ecological pesticide [see image, photographer: Femke Reijerman] based on rhubarb to battle the Varoa Mite, arch enemy to the bee.

Internationally famed bio-designers like Daisy Ginsberg, William Meyers and Koert van Mensvoort will be discussing a number of graduation projects with graduates and alumni. The experts mentioned here will also compile a design itinerary for this day that will include work which illustrates this second nature.


Wednesday 24 October will be the day of Bread and Games. There will be some tasty and cheerful presentations on the menu that day, featuring a contribution from the spectacular chef-performer Andre Amaro. There will be no lack of critical appetizers on this day. We will be taking a look at some pressing problems in food supplies, but also at the changing relationships between town and country. Marloes van Bennekom graduated by creating an Outdoor Pharmacy with which she intends to express the relationship between nature and disease. In our everyday environment we can find a host of medicinal plants and herbs; Bennekom wants to point this out with her pharmacy. Based on a similar thought, Maaike Schuitema has created a Food Pharmacy [see image, photographer: Femke Reijerman] which offers our daily ration of fruit and veg in the shape of medicine. DAE tutor Ester van de Wiel will explore new ways of practising urban farming and take a more in-depth look at our relationship with the urban environment and the countryside in a talk with students.


In times of crisis it is especially wise to consider the question what your added value as a designer can be; more importantly, especially when times are rough, there will often be a tension between following your ideals and earning an income. What would be a smart way of manifesting yourself in a shrinking market? On Friday 26 October we will be following a number of students and alumni who are visualising this tension, and a range of self-made designers will show us how they managed to sell their stories. Some of them will present a finished product that is instantly ready for introduction (during a boom), others will invest in long-term projects (often out of idealism).

There will also be a conference on Friday of the four-year research programme CRISP (Creative Industry Scientific Programme). A programme in which Design Academy Eindhoven is collaborating with the three Dutch Universities of Technology, the two Amsterdam universities, and 60 businesses. Designers, researchers and R&D teams from the businesses are joining forces to set up a research project. What is the role of designers in such interdisciplinary teams and how can we best align design education with the situation in practice?

Design & Context

During the closing weekend (Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October) we will be zooming in on ways of presenting the different forms of design. What would be the best way of bringing design-based research into the limelight? Our curators, Van Middelkoop and Frisk, will be present themselves today to elaborate on the added value of their layered approach to curating.